IBA and NABO heavyweight champion James “Lights Out” Toney recently tried and failed to make a successful MMA debut; the decorated boxer took on MMA legend Randy “The Natural” Couture this past August 28th at UFC 118 and was steamrolled en route to a first round submission finish or Couture. Toney’s trainer, John “Pops” Arthur recently spoke with MMAJunkie.com about what went wrong in the fight and where Toney goes from here.
Many have wondered where Toney goes from here in respect to MMA after clearly showing serious ineptitude for the sport. “Lights Out” will defend his IBA title this November 5th in New Orleans but, according to Arthur, will come back to MMA to settle what he feels is unfinished business.
“They might have won the battle, but the war ain’t over yet,” said Arthur.
Arthur indicated to MMAJunkie that Toney experienced something backstage prior to the fight that affected his performance but would apparently not go into much detail. Toney’s trainer contends that whatever happened drove Toney to make mistakes in the cage.
“James was so upset,” Arthur said. “He was so mad, he just wanted to hit [Randy]. He wanted to get close enough to hit him one time because of so many things that happened that night that were going against us. There were some things happened that he wasn’t happy with. It’s personal. It drove him to a whole different level.”
Arthur pointed to some of the technical mistakes that Toney made, saying that movement was key to avoiding the takedown and that “Lights Out” didn’t make that happen.
“I said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t stand in front of the kid because the kid’s going to try and take you down,'” Arthur said. “[He’s] going to take that lead leg. That’s what he did. I told him he’s got to move. I said, ‘You’ve got to get out there and use your boxing skills.'”
“Pops” also pointed to Toney’s choice in footgear, what appeared to be Muay Thai ankle supports, as being a detriment to the boxer; Couture himself said post-fight that the ankle supports gave him something to grip in order to better complete the low single leg takedown that drug Toney into unfamiliar waters.
“He had those damn cufflinks on his feet; those damn things that keep you from sliding, and that’s another bad thing,” Arthur said. “He gave [Couture] something to grab onto.”
UFC President Dana White mentioned post-fight that Toney was done in the UFC considering how little offense he mounted, but Arthur said that he hasn’t heard anything official yet from the UFC front office.
“Well, then Dana needs to send me some release papers,” he said. “If we don’t plan on fighting in the UFC, send me the release paper and we’ll take it to the next level. I know the UFC is the No. 1 [promotion] in mixed martial arts, but if Dana voiced that we don’t fight for him anymore, send me the release papers. I don’t have any problem with that. Once that happens, then I’ll start working on stuff. But right now, we’re focused on him defending his IBA heavyweight championship.”
Regardless of whether or not Toney returns to the UFC, his trainer said that he will be making a return to mixed martial arts for sure and plans to continue competing in both MMA and boxing; albeit against competition closer to his level.
“He’s going to be doing groundwork and boxing,” Arthur said. “He’s going to be a two-sport athlete. The reality is that he wants to do it, and he will do it again. I think the next time I match him up, I’ll make sure I’ll matchup at least 50-50 equal. The cards were stacked against him.”