MMA legend Randy “The Natural” Couture is sitting a few weeks out from taking on boxing champion James “Lights Out” Toney in the co-main event of UFC 118. Toney has promoted the fight from his end in what has unfortunately become the boxing standard: making over-the-top claims of one’s greatness and trash talking everyone and anyone who challenges those claims, or just happens to be around. Couture has managed to laugh off most all of what Toney has claimed about the inferiority of MMA compared to boxing and has largely ignored Toney’s other claims. One such claim, bolstered by the admission of “King Mo” himself, is that Toney managed to submit world class grappler and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal during a training session. Couture has heard the rumor, but told MMAFighting.com’s Ben Fowlkes recently that he isn’t putting much stock into it.
“Nah, I don’t believe that,” Couture said. “He’s probably doing some wrestling with Mo Lawal. That wouldn’t surprise me. I know he’s not training with Dean Lister. Dean called me himself when that one broke and said, ‘I’m not training with that guy. Don’t believe that stuff.’ But it doesn’t matter. All the talk is just talk. No matter who he can get to say he’s tapped them out in training, on the day he’s still going to walk down to the cage and get in there with me and that’s when all that stuff stops.”
As much as it is being marketed as a fight to distinguish the better sport between boxing and MMA, Couture doesn’t believe the outcome of his fight with Toney has any real bearing on which sport is better and doesn’t believe that the argument itself even holds much water.
“This sport is doing awesome,” Couture said of MMA. “We’ll be compared to boxing forever and that’s probably not going to stop after this fight. There’ll be some other boxer that’s going to step up and say he’s going to knock everybody out. The sport’s going to continue to do what it’s going to do whether I win this fight or not. Obviously, I’m preparing to win and doing everything in my power to win this fight. James is a dangerous guy. There’s no doubt about that. It’s still a fight when we get in there, but it’s a mixed martial arts fight – not a boxing match.”
Though “The Natural” acknowledges Toney’s potential dangerousness as an opponent, he does question the level of shape that Toney will be in for this fight as a direct result of the negotiations over which weight class their bout would be held in.
“At first I thought we’d do 205, since that’s the weight class I’m at now,” said Couture. “Then they said, ‘How about a catchweight of 220?’ I said, fine with me, since that’s the weight I generally walk around at. Then his camp said they didn’t want to do 220 and just wanted to do a heavyweight bout. I said, whatever, it’s fine, let’s just do it. You know, he’s 5’11, walking around at 240 or 245, if he wants to do the work to get in shape and get down to 220 or 205, okay. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t make any difference to me.”
Couture and Toney will square off in the co-main event of UFC 118 which is scheduled to go down this August 28th at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The card will be headlined by the lightweight title fight rematch between Champion Frankie Edgar and former champ BJ Penn.