Randy Couture hasnt made it this far, to 47 years old, to his 13th year in mixed martial arts, by taking excessive risk, by throwing caution out the window like a spent cigarette, and just indulging in a rock em sock em robots style in the Octagon.
He is a master at conserving energy, at locking up his foe, pushing them into the cage, and breaking them down with superlative dirty boxing.
I expect Couture to do just this on Saturday night at UFC 118 in Boston, against boxer James Toney, if he doesnt just first dump Toney on his considerable keister with a swift double leg takedown, hop on top of the neophyte mixed martial artist, and rain blows down on the pugilists head, as Toney, unaccustomed to punching up toward the ceiling, drowns in a sea of uncertainty.
But part of me, a large part of me, hopes that there will come a time in the fight, which I dont see getting out of the first round, when Coutures pride, and curiosity, get the better of him, when he does in fact stand and trade withy Toney.
The Natural, in a chat with TSS, swears that wont come to pass.
Tactically, youve evaluated the fight correctly, I think, he said. Unless I get stupid, and draw myself into an exchange, I will do well. I dont want to go toe to toe, trade with Toney. As far as the most dangerous strikers Ive faced, Ive faced some damn good strikers. But hes probably the most pure effective pure striker Ive faced. But other guys can kick. And Im not worried about him kicking me in the head. Or anywhere.
Toney, who turned 42 today, could train in MAA til hes 47, and he still wouldnt be able to master as much as Couture has forgotten. So while we can admire, if indeed he has trained like weve been told, and has trimmed most of the blubber in the last six months of MMA immersion, Toneys tackling such a weighty obstacle, that admiration likely wont help him in Boston.
Still, Couture swears that hes not looking past the boxer, subconsciously or otherwise letting his foot off the training pedal because Toney is a newbie in the Octagon. It is just another fight to me, he said. A win means the same, that I was the more prepared, the better competitor on that night. But this isnt a boxing match. I plan on staying away from his strengths. I take every guy seriously. Hell be dangerous, especially early, when he has his legs underneath him. Im not worried about him submitting me, and can he stop a takedown, or put on a triangle? Probably not.
Toney has, surprising to no one who has heard him bluster over the years, sold the fight well, talking trash about Couture, declaring that he will send Couture to the hospital. The MMAer said that the boxer hasnt taken up residence in his head. That makes me smile, he said. Hes created some more interest in the fight. Im happy to get the nod to welcome him to this sport.
Is Toney making a silly mistake, I wonder, tackling this new discipline?
I dont know if its silly, but I think hes in over his head. I think he wanted to make a run, make headlines, not to just make money. But I have a ton of respect for Toney, and a lot of boxers. Ive watched boxing since I was a kid. My mom actually said I couldnt participate in boxing. Shes probably kicking herself, because I might have done it, and gotten it out of my system.
Speaking of which, Id hazard a guess that James Toney will get the full MMA treatment on Saturday, and will, in fact, get mixed martial arts out of his system, with an assist from Randy Couture, who will pummel and squeeze the urge out of him.