Boxing is one of the oldest of the modern sports, but mixed martial arts has seen an explosion in its fan base over the past few years.
Boxing has never quite enjoyed the same cultural influence which MMA is currently experiencing.
The argument has bubbled up to the highest parts of UFC, as seen when UFC president Dan White discussed boxing and boxing fans (as usual with White, there’s “colorful” language in that interview). As much as bickering between fans served its purpose of extending the debate, there really haven’t been many opportunities to make a definitive distinction regarding which sport produces the better athlete.
That is, until now.
At UFC 118 on Aug. 28 in Boston, Randy Couture, one of MMA’s biggest names, will face James “Lights Out” Toney, who has been a force in boxing with over 80 wins behind his belt.
Speaking of belts, it’s important to mention that throughout Toney’s career he has held championship belts in three different divisions, which is a testament to his resilience. Let’s hope Toney can similarly adapt to a stronger clinching defense and withstand Couture’s surely superior ground skills.
“This will be the biggest fight ever, period,” Toney said. “Biggest event period, anywhere.”
Toney has sought out a chance to compete in MMA for quite some time. Here is a clip of Lights Out with Dana White this past January at UFC 108, courtesy of mmafighting.com.
Couture is among the most famous faces in MMA, and his record and fighting style back up that hype. He is a three-time heavyweight champion and a two-time light heavyweight champion, and he’s one of only two fighters to ever accomplish such a feat. Couture is known for his “ground and pound” fighting style, where he uses takedowns to defeat his opponents from the bottom up. Despite his artistry with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he has many other skills which he incorporates in the Octagon to defeat his opponents.
Couture has welcomed Toney’s challenge, announcing his eagerness to fight Toney via Twitter last March.
“I will be happy to welcome him to MMA … to have a world-class boxer to step up and sign on the dotted line is a big deal,” Couture said at UFC 113.
Outside of the Octagon, Couture has blended into pop culture by starring in many films and television programs. Yet even though Couture has gone mainstream, his need to fight has never been stronger, demonstrated by his desire to take on a match with Toney. Couture wants to show that he’s the best fighter of the two and that MMA produces better fighters.
This fight won’t be one-sided, however. As Couture went on to say, “They don’t call him ‘Lights Out’ for nothing.”
Couture has a point. Toney is an amazing boxing champion, and he has a great record: 72 wins, six losses, and three draws over his 21 years in the ring. Couture knows that he will have his hands full with Toney, especially considering the way that Toney trains. But Couture also understands that the Octagon is a long way from the ring, and if Toney wants to make a name for himself in MMA, he’ll have to go through one of its biggest names to do so.
Whether the MMA fighter or boxer comes out victorious, UFC 118 is guaranteed to be an event that will showcase some of the best that both sports have to offer. There will never truly be a definitive match, as the two sports’ rules are exclusive of each other. You can never have the two competitors fight a fair match in their own environments, by the definitions of the sports themselves.
That being said, this match will surely entertain both boxing and MMA enthusiasts.