In the first part of our article looking beyond the hype of this weekend’s so-called “MMA Vs Boxing” showdown we took a look at the reality of James Toney’s recent career, and in part two we do the same for Randy Couture…
Like James Toney, Randy Couture is a highly decorated fighter in his chosen sport. On face value an 18-10 record doesn’t exactly scream UFC hall-of-famer, but what that doesn’t reveal is that ‘The Natural’ has been fighting the best the 205lb and 265lb divisions have to offer for 13 years. Starting his career by winning the UFC 13 heavyweight tournament in 1997, he’s since gone on to become a three-time light-heavyweight and two-time heavyweight champion of the world.
What’s all the more remarkable about his MMA career is that it didn’t start until he was 34 years of age. The truth though is that well over a decade later, now aged 47, the ageing process has finally began to catch up with him.
While his physical condition is almost unparalleled for a man of his age and his mind remains as sharp as ever, his performances over the last few years suggest that his chin has now become his achilles heel.
This really started to become apparent after he took over a year out at the end of 2007 due to a contract dispute with the UFC. He returned in November of 2008 at the age of 45 and since then he’s shown a worrying decline in his ability to take a punch.
At UFC 91 Brock Lesnar TKO’d him with what appeared to be a glancing blow (albeit delivered by a 265lb+ giant) while UFC 102 saw Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira dropping him several times during a three round battle that ended in another loss.
Though his last two fights have ended in victory, that doesn’t paper over the continued cracks. His win over Brandon Vera was controversial, with many believing that Vera should have come out on top after flooring Couture with a leg kick to the midsection early in the fight and coming out on top in the stand-up exchanges.
Couture’s last fight was a convincing victory over another ageing veteran who is without question past his sell-by date, Mark Coleman, but worryingly even ‘The Hammer’ appeared to momentarily daze him with a punch.
I believe it’s now reached the point where if Couture’s only option was striking then he’d quickly be heading down the same path as 40 year old Chuck Liddell (who incidently KO’d him twice in one year). For the time being though Couture has been able to fall back on his wrestling roots and keen mind to see him through.
That should be the case again on Saturday night, there’s no doubt that even though his star is also fading, Toney could still expose the frailty of Couture’s chin if given half a chance, and that’s what will make this bout so intriguing when the two legends collide on Saturday night.
Don’t forget to check out the first part of this article: UFC 118: The Truth About James Toney