Couture destroys Toney -- and doesn't prove a thing
So Randy Couture steamrolled James "Lights Out" Toney at UFC 118 Saturday night, proving once and for all that an aging but proficient mixed martial artist is better at mixed martial arts than a boxer who is 18 years and 77 pounds past his prime.
And that's about all Couture's highly anticipated but hardly unexpected win proves.
It also proves that Toney, who hounded Dana White for the final three months of 2009 before finally receiving his shot in the UFC, probably should have started out in Strikeforce because they probably would have let him debut against a creampuff more suited to his (non-existent) MMA skills. I mean, Herschel Walker is 1-0 as an MMA fighter thanks to Strikeforce and Greg Nagy.
Either way, I'm hardly the only guy who figured Couture would take down and overwhelm the 42-year-old Toney without much time or effort. It doesn't take a visionary to foresee a wrestling expert and MMA veteran choking out a guy who has never grappled before.
The result was about as predictable as a showdown between Toney's willpower and the buffet table.
Yes, Saturday night marked the first time we saw a big-name boxer take on a top-flight mixed martial artist in a near no-holds-barred fight, but the bout was far from a final referendum on which group of athletes is superior.
I doubt such a thing exists.
As I told friends on Twitter Saturday night, Toney facing Couture in the octagon is like the Pittsburgh Pirates meeting teem Pakistan on the cricket pitch.
Like Toney the Pirates have a glorious and well-documented past. Thirty-one years ago the Pirates claimed a World Series, giving the city of Pittsburgh six major pro titles (two World Series and four Super Bowls) in the decade of the seventies.
But like Toney they watch that glory fade a little every day, and while they still remain in the major leagues their performance, payroll and paid attendance slide steadily toward minor league levels.
Couture, meanwhile is like Pakistani cricket: not the same force as in the glory days (there's no replacing Inzimam Ul Haq), but they're still a world power, and way too strong for any minnow to challenge.
So expecting Toney to put in nine months of MMA training and give Couture anything resembling a tough fight is like asking Andrew McCutchen and crew to fly to Islamabad and go wicket-for-wicket with team Pakistan.
Wouldn't happen, and we know it because we realize that for all the similarities between baseball and cricket there's still a vast difference between the two.
Somehow we forget that when trying to compare boxing and MMA but as Couture demolished Toney Saturday night we all received an emphatic reminder.
If we really wanted to prove MMA fighters were superior to boxers in all aspects we'd have to arrange a rematch between Toney and Couture under the Queensberry Rules.
Of course, it's been discussed and of course, Couture is vowing never to enter a boxing ring with Toney.
After Saturday's fight he told reporters that if the two men ever boxed “James would probably knock me out in the first round.”
I don't know.
First round knockouts were never Toney's style (and yes, I feel comfortable discussing Toney's boxing career in the past tense). More likely he would pick Couture apart early and beat him down in the middle rounds. Either way, if Toney and Couture had met in a ring Saturday night Couture might still be on his back with the referee counting over him.
But they met in an octagon, which proves that Couture has learned a hard lesson about the fight game that still eludes Toney:
Never take a fight unless you know you can win it.
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