James Toney's UFC Experiment Over After Lopsided Loss

BOSTON -- On the night that multi-time boxing champion James Toney made his mixed martial arts debut with the intention of showing that boxing is the most effective combat style, it was ironic that there was not a single knockout recorded. Instead, it seemed that subconciously, the athletes of the UFC were intent on showing Toney how varied and effective other forms of fighting could be.

Toney was on the receiving end of the fifth and final submission of UFC 118, losing to Randy Couture in a one-sided fight that will be his first and last foray in the UFC, according to company president Dana White. When asked if he would stick to his pre-fight promise of only a single fight for Toney if he lost, White said yes.

"He's the IBA and NABO heavyweight champion. He's a boxer and that's what he does," White said. "He wanted to fight, he picked a fight with our guys and he fought tonight. He's a tough guy, he's been around. I have a lot of respect for him, but you can't expect a guy to come in with one discipline and do well. He stepped up, he came in and did it. He picked a fight and he got one."


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UFC 118 Post-Fight Press Conference: Randy Couture Highlights | Complete Video

Toney lasted just 3:19 against Couture after the five-time UFC champion took him down within the opening 20 seconds of the bout, and before Toney could throw a single punch.

Both White and Couture emphasized that Toney deserved credit for his effort and courage to take on the challenge, but added that the fight only underscored the widely held belief that Toney could not compete with a seasoned MMA fighter after only a few months of training.

White admitted that he still had a few anxious moments thinking about the possibility of Toney stunning Couture.

"I've got to be be honest, as it got closer, my stomach hurt, I was dizzy and nervous," White said with a laugh. "A mixed martial artist stepped in against a boxer. It's a fight and anything can happen in a fight. Toney lasted longer than I thought he would actually. But I wasn't a guy trying to bad-mouth boxing and take boxing down or hurt the sport."




For Couture, it went as expected: takedown, groundwork and finish. Effective and efficient.

"Yeah, it went exactly how I saw it in my head," he said. "I had no illusions of trading blows with James."

Couture said that Toney showed his novice status throughout the bout. First, Couture correctly assumed that Toney would not know how to defend a low single leg takedown. The variation Couture used is rarely tried in MMA because a fighter has to dive in at his opponent's feet. That leaves him in a vulnerable position, and it's a fairly low percentage move. Yet Toney immediately found himself on his back as a result of the fairly basic takedown.

"It's pretty easy counter because you shoot from a long distance away," Couture said. "You have to get pretty low. A good grappler or a good wrestler is going to step out of it. I caught him on his heel and get pressure on the knee to get him down. I didn't think James would have a counter for that. You don't see it in MMA simply because good grapplers have a counter for it."

Secondly, Toney had no idea how to defend on the ground, a position where it seemed inevitable the fight would go.

"I didn't feel like he demonstrated any real solid skills once he hit his butt on the mat," Couture said. "He didn't close his guard, he didn't protect himself, and I got to mount pretty easily. I could hear his corner yell at him, giving him instructions, but I think he was more interested in trying to punch me in the head from his back."

While Toney's experiment is over, another was recently suggested. Last week, Toney's boxing promoter Dan Goossen challenged Couture to do the same thing Toney did: fight in his opponent's world. But when asked if he would do it, Couture didn't hesitate.

"I would respectfully decline such an offer," Couture said. "It would be just as silly as I think it is for James to fight in mixed martial arts."
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