Followers of mixed martial arts
insist it is the fastest-growing sport in the world. Big claim, but it bears up
to analysis because protagonists from all the combat sports such as boxing,
karate, judo, tae kwon do, Muay Thai, wrestling, jujitsu et al get a chance to
test themselves against the best in other disciplines in the octagon.
Until recently boxing was the
principle combat sport, generating more income for fighters than all the others
collectively. But the balance is gradually shifting to MMA, and on Saturday,
boxing’s demise is likely to be further eroded when the biggest name in the
noble art to step into the octagon takes on an MMA legend.
James ‘Lights Out’ Toney, the
former five-weight world boxing champion, clashes with Randy ‘The Natural’
Couture on UFC 118 at the Boston Garden. Toney, 42, is a huge 10-1 underdog
against Couture in this heavyweight match even though Couture is five years
older and his MMA record is a modest 18-10.
Toney has only lost six times in a
glittering boxing career that includes 72 wins and 44 knockouts. He insists
that with 4-ounce gloves he will be even more destructive than with the 8-ounce
gloves he wears in boxing, but Couture, a former wrestler, is known for his
resilience and will obviously look to negate Toney’s boxing by taking him down.
When it comes to overall fitness, Couture is in a class of his own. Always
ripped and in superb shape, on appearance alone, Couture should win against the
always flabby Toney.
Cayman karate instructor Bob Daigle
is a former world heavyweight karate champion. He also teaches FAST Defense in
Cayman. Daigle will be at the fight with friend David Reid, another Cayman
resident and big martial arts fan.
“This will be the first time where
two living legends in their respective combat sports will face each other,”
Daigle said. “Toney has a great record in boxing and Randy has won the UFC
heavyweight and light-heavy titles five times. Although both men are in their
40s, their skill and fitness levels are so good they could still beat most of
the top-ranked fighters in their respective sports.
“This match has me really excited.
I am a big boxing fan as well as being a MMA fan. Toney is one of the best
fighters to ever lace up the gloves. No MMA fighter today could ever match him
skill for skill in a boxing match. Couture has decent stand-up skills but would
be crazy to try to stand toe-to-toe with Toney. The keys for Randy to win will
be take James down and ground and pound or submit him.
“He will need to be extremely
careful as the match starts and not to get caught with a punch by Toney. If
even one punch landed it could mean the end of the fight for Couture. They
don’t call him ‘Lights Out’ for nothing.
“James is the best inside fighter
in boxing I have ever seen. His ability to not get hit is freakish. Randy is
the best at fighting up against the fence. His ability to tie up fighters and
‘dirty’ box them is probably the best in all of the UFC. Dirty boxing is where
the fighter in MMA holds with one hand and punches with the other. It is not
allowed in boxing but is allowed in MMA.
“I can’t wait to see what happens
at this range. As for who is expected to win, I would have to say Couture. This
is an MMA match and not boxing. Randy has the advantage of fighting under these
rules and typically when a pure boxer is taken down to the ground by an MMA
fighter, he usually loses by submission or to ref stoppage from ground and
“Although usually the boxer loses
once taken down, it is not always the case. Local boxer Troy O’Neil fought an
MMA match in Cayman a few years ago against an experienced wrestler and
actually defeated his opponent while on his back, scoring the more effective
blows. The wrestler was so hurt he could not come out for the second round. So
we never know.
“I will be on the edge of my seat
watching this fight because you never know what can happen when you have two
legends who both have strong wills and skills meet in battle. I do think a pure
boxer against an MMA fighter is at a disadvantage in a fight of this kind. I
would have to say at least two-thirds of the time the boxer will lose. That’s
why they call this mixed martial arts.”