Couture vs Toney – Why It Matters

In the early days of the UFC, every fight was filled with meaning and importance.

I watched in anticipation and eagerly awaited the outcomes of Karate men vs. Wrestlers to see which art held more combative truth.

Later, I bit my nails and chewed my lips as the embodiment of Evil, Tank Abbot threatened to take the throne and lay waste to the the “Myth” of Martial Arts and prove to the world, the supremacy of Street Thugs.

My palms would sweat as I wondered if champions of the Martial Path such as a young Vitor Belfort would rise to protect its Honor despite a visible weight disadvantage, as the fate of the Universe hung in the balance.

And then… Fights became mere contests between two mortal men. Talented as they may be at times and as entertaining as some fights were, the meaning was gone.

That is until recently where fights such as Lesnar vs Carwin would once again, bring me up off of my bar stool and into a screaming frenzy like a teenage schoolgirl at a Beatles concert.

UFC 118 promises yet another fight, fraught with meaning and importance.

You see, Randy Couture vs. James Toney is more than just another MMA fight. It’s a fight in which James Toney has set out to prove that Boxing is superior to MMA.

Or to put it in his words “…I represent Boxing… I’m going to destroy your so called legend.”

Am I excited for this fight?

You’re damn right I’m excited!!! There’s something so audacious about Toney, a complete greenhorn in the sport, accepting a match with one of it’s legends. And although I don’t believe for a second that the fight has any relevance for the Boxing vs. MMA debate (if there even is one), there are those for whom this fight might actually sway their opinion of the two sports. An opinion, ultimately of me, my chosen profession and my circle of friends and colleagues for whom MMA has become a way of life.

I am titillated by the idea of Couture stomping on a fighter who would show so little respect (whether intentionally or out of pure ignorance) for an art that we’ve made our home.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love and respect the art of Boxing and would feel the same way about an MMA fighter entering the world of the Sweet Science and accepting a fight with one of it’s premiere representatives on his maiden voyage. My hope is that our champion will teach his opponent just a little more respect for this new kid on the block (MMA).

Couture with Coach Billy Robinson.

But enough of my ramblings. Let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this conflict.

Does James Toney stand a ghost of a chance against one of MMA’s greatest Heros?

I would argue that he definitely standsa a punchers chance, and that is exactly why this match up is so compelling.

In fact, a long time ago, my cousin and I came up with the “Golden bb Theory”. The proverbial little stone that could fell even the mightiest of MMA Giants. And anyone who can ball up a fist and throw, always has a chance of finding that golden bb.

But James Toney is no ordinary man, and the bombs he drops, in no way shape or form resemble a bb. A Titanium 12 gauge slug is more like it. There is a very real possibility, however remote, that Toney will find his mark with those man stoppers of his and turn the MMA world upside down.

You don’t believe me. Does Serra vs. GSP or Douglas vs. Tyson ring a bell?

There are so many external factors that make this fight intriguing.

Toney is just now beginning to delve into the main 5 areas of MMA, while the pioneers and leaders of the sport are already branching out beyond the foundational elements of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/Submission Grappling, Folk/Freestyle Wrestling, Muay Thai, Grecco Roman Wrestling and Boxing.

Few have begun to unravel the riddle of Lyoto Machida who, in the terms of the MMA Cavemen, whom I despise, has a style that is “Karate”. Anderson Silva has recently been seen experimenting with Aikido.

All the while, Randy Couture, has sought out the help of Coach Billy Robinson to learn Catch As Catch Can wrestling techniques for his MMA game.

(You can learn more about Catch Wrestling or register for the next CACC Certification Course at

Has Toney ever experienced being pressed up against a chain link fence?
Has Couture ever experienced the sting of a Champion Boxer’s hands?
Will Toney, who seems strongest at finishing in bent arm punching range (uppercuts, hooks and overhands) be able to stop the body lock?
Will Couture be able to corner and takedown a man who’s art is known for it’s excellent footwork?

I don’t know but I am certainly excited to see and who knows, with any luck, Couture will finish Toney with a Shin Lock and Toney will proclaim his respect for the art of MMA.

28 replies
  1. Dickey
    Dickey says:

    After seeing that interview it seems to me that Toney knows next to nothing of grappling of any kind besides the Boxing Clinch. I respect boxing. I grew up on it and from the start seemed to have a knack for it. But for how much study and time I’ve put into fighting, I know that MMA is much more than Boxing. I’m not saying one’s tougher. Boxing is a lot of techinque that you need to get down pat. MMA is just a lot more in general, though. Now if Randy is smart, he will kick or jump in and clinch with and possibly Greco slam the thug. The amount of respect that Toney showed toward Couture instantly made me want to see him get stomped. When it comes down to it, I see Randy prevailing if he plays smart and doesn’t get caught with the “Golden Bullet” punch. If one thinks about it, a puncher, no matter how amazing he is, is only good in a position to punch. You get him clinched up tight or laying on his back and he’s a squirming drill dummy. I say Couture.

  2. Sterling
    Sterling says:

    Hi Dr. Sick, loved this post sir. Brought back fond memories of the style vs style matches of early UFC.

    Cool to see the elite fighters branching out further, exploring the bleeding-edge of MMA.

    The MMA Cavemen almost seem to deserve a break as it seems that Lyoto Machida helped encourage the labeling of his fight style as “Karate”. It’s a lot more than karate, but does seem influenced by it. Yet he brings a lot of attention to the fact that he trains in “karate”.

    He and his father are leading an upcoming training session called “Karate Is Back”. 🙂

  3. naturalbornfighter1
    naturalbornfighter1 says:

    Great column as usual Dr.Sick! Loved it!
    I’m amazed at how many people are giving Toney no chance at all. So many people are saying ‘couture will take him down and pound him out.’ I totally see their logic and I believe the same thing is likely to happen. So many fans however refuse to acknowelege ANY way Toney can win. Toney is a multiple weight world title holder. He toyed with Evander Holyfield, and if he can put Holyfield on the canvas he can certainly put an older Couture on the canvas too. When Randy fought Chuck in their second and third fights I remember thinking to myself ‘why is Randy trying to trade with such a lethal striker?’ If Randy gets tagged there’s a huge possibility it’ll be ‘Lights Out’ for Randy. It’s not anywhere near as clear cut as many people think!

  4. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:


    Thanks for the link. That’s awesome. It’s like Guru Inosanto has said for years. Every technique and every art are 100% true, just not 100% of the time.

  5. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:


    I’m with you bro. The odds are that the fight will go down exactly as all the “experts” say. I’d agree that that’s how things will most likely happen. But even a “nobody” can clip you with a lucky punch. Toney is no “nobody” and his punches are some of the “luckiest” I’ve seen thrown.

  6. Dickey
    Dickey says:

    Yes, great article Dr. Sick. Forgot to mention that. Haha. Sorry. Everytime I get on I hope for a new blog post. They are always so interesting and such great reads. I’m hoping this fight will maybe bring back style vs style fights, rather than the present Star vs Star.

    Toney may be the underdog by far, he does have a long list of disadvantages, but in the Sweet Science, anything can happen. The King Mo article made a great point by mentioning the Mercer vs Sylvia fight. Couture is the “expert” pick, but Toney is a multi-weight world champion in another respected combat sport and knows and understands the one-on-one combat situation. I’m still standing by saying Couture via Ground n Pound or Sub, but I’m not totally ruling out Toney.

  7. Sterling
    Sterling says:

    @Dr. Sick – I’ve never heard that quote from Guru Inosanto before. So much wisdom there.

    @Dickey – I know what you mean about Dr. Sick’s blog posts. Love how he can write from a strictly technical way on details of a move, but can also share his personal side with his years of experience and passion for MMA. It’s one thing to be a good instructor, but it’s another to be a good writer.

  8. Jake Shannon
    Jake Shannon says:

    Look, discounting the built-in bias I have toward grapplers winning in this sort of match, this is going to look like a prison rape. There is no way Toney will be able to match up Coutures MMA and wrestling experience.

    Toney is used to the ref breaking things up in a clinch. That is where Couture excels.

    My prediction; 1st round submission via neck crank, maybe leglock. Couture will cut off the cage, bait Toney, shoot, clinch, high-amplitude throw, and end the fight.

  9. kenseisato1989
    kenseisato1989 says:

    isn’t james toney learing grappling with some of the world class mma fighters?
    its easy to fight for hand control and stripp off limbs that comes attaching to you and of course foot work is the key to anti-grappling, its easier said then done but will james toney be able to become a great anti-grappler when he fights randy coture?

    what do you guys think?

  10. Sterling
    Sterling says:

    @Jake Shannon – Do you think Couture will submit rather than ground n pound, just to prove a point about grappling?

    @Kenseisato1989 – Would be crazy if he had evasive footwork like Anderson Silva. But from the King Mo interview, looks like he was taken down with double leg fairly easily.

  11. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:

    Dean Lister claims that Toney nearly foot locked him

    And Jake, Couture wasn’t able to cut the ring off against Liddell. Even Prison Rapists slip on a bar of soap every now and again.

    Toney might just pull off a stick and move game plan or even catch a guillotine on a shooting Couture…

  12. Jake Shannon
    Jake Shannon says:

    @Sterling – I think would like to think so, I think he’ll take it as it comes. If Toney is a total cake-walk look for Couture to go for a submission, however if Couture is peeved look for him to grind it out with GNP.

    @Dr Sick – Rossen said it best: “The more that comes out of James Toney’s training camp, the more I feel like I’m being victimized by some kind of elaborate, subversive PR stunt — one in which Toney is morphing into an actual threat in a mixed-style fighting ring.”

    Dana White probably wrote Lister and Lawal a fat check to leak that to the media to up the PPV buys… You put these guys in the ring ten times, Randy wins 9.

  13. Sterling
    Sterling says:

    @kensei sato – Yes, I want to see it too!

    Would be wonderful to see another top-level striker with excellent footwork and takedown defense like you described. Who knows, maybe Toney will surprise us!

  14. Kevin Dillard
    Kevin Dillard says:

    footlock/leglock/ankle/toehold or neckcrank/sleeper/choke or GnP.. I’ll take Couture either of these ways..
    and despite Tony’s “puncher’s chance”.. it may only be one trick.. but he’s only got to really catch you with it once..
    that said, I’ll still take Couture,, if it don’t work out that way.. I say go ahead and feed Toney to Lesnar, Carwin, Velasquez or Dos Santos..

  15. Jason Mallory
    Jason Mallory says:

    Can’t wait for this one. James is not a PPV draw in boxing but he is still relevant as a current heavyweight title holder. I would hope that Randy’s complete game will be too much for Toney.

    This one is a hard one for me to pick a winner. I knew James Toney growing up in Ann Arbor, MI. but I want the all around more complete fighters of MMA to come out on top.

  16. johnny cage
    johnny cage says:

    couture vs tooney… does the ufc not know wtf thier doing.
    simply put wtf is going on rocky vs hulk hogan again, dana white really doesnt know how to make cards like the pride fc could do. where are the super fights? where are the tourneys like in pride? where are the cards that people want to see dana? wtf are you doing dana? ufc is done, reached as far as it will go if you ask me, no competive match ups and everything a pay event like lydell vs franklin? holy sh$t that should have been free or not even on a card. wake the fu$k up dana. who the hell wants to see toney vs couture your mama?

  17. johnny cage
    johnny cage says:

    oh yes dana did you hear of jumping the the shark as fonzie did on happy days, well its over for ufc they “jumped the shark” this time

  18. johnny cage
    johnny cage says:

    the people writing” its going to be hard to pick this one” are full of sh$t it going to be like chess and checkers.. one fighter schooled in one discpline and the other schooled in 20 disciplines you tell me whos comming out on top. did you see those early fights of hoyce when nobody knew wtf was bj well thats what its going to look like.

  19. Matt T. Bay
    Matt T. Bay says:

    Nice article buddy, but MMA vs Boxing it is really hard to determine w/c is better, but one thing i know although the best of MMA fighter againts the best of the Boxing fighter makes a face off the one who can give the best shot on the right spot will decide who will win..since i’m also a boxer i will go for Couture..XD

  20. Matt T. Bay
    Matt T. Bay says:

    And i’m also dreaming, praying to all of gods that Floyd “all talk” Gay weather will also take a stand to jump into the octagon w/ Penn..that will be so sweet

  21. Zod
    Zod says:

    Oh really? That is the biggest load of garbage I have ever heard. It took Ray Mercer 9 seconds to defeat Tim Sylvia who is a 6″8 former UFC champion. 9 SECONDS. Ray Mercer was way past his fight prime.

    My background is in Boxing and MMA. My Father was a sparring partner for George Chuvalo. I am absolutely telling you guys right now that now UFC fighter has ever been hit as hard as James Toney can hit. Randy Coture is an amazing athelete, obviously past his prime, but he is underestimating hte serious damage that Toney could do to him with 4oz gloves on..

    Its been said that Toney has a punchers chance!! Haha..its more like Randy Coture has a grapplers chance if he can manage to avoid Toneys strikes. MMA Fighters throw strikes, Boxers throw punches. I have been in both rings, and I can tell you without a doubht that Boxers punch harder. They can generate an incredible amount of power from very short distances.

    Of course the odds are against Toney, he is stepping into the MMA ring. But what UFC fighters would step into a Boxing ring? None. Mike Tysons hardest punches were tipping the scales at 2800psi!! Look it up yourself. The hardest UFC punchers like Chuck Liddell were punching at 1800psi max. 2800 psi is like being hit by a Car in the form of a fist.

    Even if Toney has retained 75% of his power and speed, Coture would be in trouble. If Coture cant get Toney down, he is going to be smashed apart. He has never been hit with the strengh of a Pro Boxer, and James Toney has never been stopped, the mans record speaks for itself.

    Randy Coture would not be able to withstand a single punch from James Toney on the chin or to the body, no man could. Randy is still favored to win, but if he eats a fist..bye bye

    For those saying that James Toney was being disrepectful to MMA, id encourage folks out there to look into the crap talking Dana White has done about Boxing over the years. There are alot of MMA fighters that have no respect for Boxing, its pretty sad actually.

  22. Sterling
    Sterling says:

    @Zod, interesting points but I have to disagree with your main arguments.

    Tim Sylvia vs Ray Mercer is a poor comparison. Sylvia is not a very well-rounded MMA fighter and doesn’t posses much grappling ability. He’s known primarily as a striker. And Couture proved to be the better striker when he came out of retirement and beat him up for 5 rounds with muay thai combos. So of course Ray Mercer is the better striker.

    Also, the power of a boxer doesn’t make much difference after a certain point. Couture has been stopped by strikes before. So it doesn’t matter too much if Toney can hit harder than other guys who stopped him. What really matters if he can land the punches while avoiding takedowns and clinches.

    All of this speculation is exciting. We’ll find out tonight.

  23. Nick
    Nick says:

    So Couture beats a fat James Toney. Don’t get me wrong, I like watching MMA, so why doesn’t White put Couture in a boxiing match with one of the Klitchko brothers and lets see what happens.


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