UFC Hall of Famer and former dual-division, multiple-time champion Randy “The Natural” Couture did what most expected he would when he took on veteran boxer James “Lights Out” Toney last night at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
“The Natural” wasted no time in dragging Toney into his world; less than thirty seconds in Couture shot a low single on Toney and promptly deposited the world champion boxer on the mat.
“I had no illusions of standing around and trading any kind of blows with James,” said Couture at the post-fight press conference. “I had to pull out the old low single from college and dust it off. I spent the whole camp working on that low shot because it’s pretty hard to counter-punch that.
“The first thing I noticed when I got into the cage and kind of settled in was that he was wearing those things on his feet,” he noted. “A huge thing with shooting a low single is you’re used to doing it against wrestlers when they’re wearing shoes ‘cause it’s something that I can grip, so when he had those things on his feet, I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be better. I have something I can grip.’”
Once Couture had Toney on the mat he let loose with a barrage of ground and pound while scooting “Lights Out” up to the cage. Once the decorated Greco-Roman wrestler had Toney mashed against the fence it was only a matter of time before he would apply the fight-ending arm triangle choke submission. Once the 47-year old had the choke secured he spun out of mount to increase the leverage and separated Toney from consciousness at 3:19 of the first round.
“I didn’t feel like he demonstrated any solid skills once he hit his butt,” said Couture. “He didn’t close his guard. He didn’t protect himself that well; I was able to maneuver and get to mount pretty easily. From mount I knew he had no idea… I could hear his corner yelling at him…but he was more interested in trying to butt me in the head from his back.”
With the win, Couture proved most everyone (including Toney’s boxing peers) right and demonstrated the reality of mixed martial competition: that bringing only one dimension of combat to the cage just won’t get you very far. Couture also earned his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with the victory; his coach Neil Melanson draped the black belt over his shoulders mid-Octagon during his post-fight speech, prompting a hearty laugh from “The Natural.”
Couture gave Toney credit for accepting the fight and for having the courage to step up and test his skills in MMA. However, Couture respectfully declined an invitation from boxing promoter Dan Goossen’s to face Toney in a boxing ring.
“It would be as silly as I think it is for James to jump into mixed martial arts the way he did here and I think it would go about the same way,” he said. “James would probably knock me out in the first round.”
Couture’s professional record improves to 19-10 with the victory and he is now on a three-fight winning streak. Toney’s professional MMA record drops to 0-1 in defeat.