While a pair of lightweights continue to dominate the UFC 118 headlines, the heavyweight scrap that will be opening up for Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn is a significant one for those contemplating a combat crossover in the future.
Although James Toney is the biggest boxing superstar to dip his toes in the mixed martial arts pond, Octagon Hall of Famer Randy Couture doesn’t feel he’s representing the entire sport of MMA when the legends collide tomorrow night inside the TD Garden in Boston.
“I don’t feel any pressure [of having to defend MMA],” Couture matter-of-factly said at this week’s press conference. “This is just another fight. James is another opponent. This is another mixed martial arts fight, whether he’s dragging in boxing or whatever else he’s learned up into that cage. You’re still in that cage and I’m pretty comfortable there.”
Because Toney is entering “The Natural’s” world, Couture will be a 7-to-1 favorite against the 42-year-old “rookie.” Despite his not-even-gonna-be-close status, Couture believes that if he were to get upset this weekend, it won’t change the fact MMA will continue to stare at boxing in its rear-view mirror.
“This sport’s going to continue to go on and explode around the world like it has, whether I win or lose this fight,” the former multi-divisional champion said. “There’s no pressure for me, I’m smiling. Had a great camp and I’m ready to go.”
Besides the glaring differences in their styles, their approach towards pre-fight promotional hype appears to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum as well.
“No, I don’t do any talking,” Couture said of his anti-Chael Sonnen ways. “It all happens in the cage, that’s all that matters.”
Oh, no worries. Toney brought along his confident/borderline cocky boxing bravado to Beantown with him.
“I love MMA. I love what the UFC has done. [UFC president Dana White’s] done a great job, but like I said, I’m the heavyweight champion of the world,” Toney reiterated. “I’m the best fighter on the planet. Period. I’ll show him on Saturday night, we’re gonna have fun.”
As for Captain America, expect for him to violently welcome his outspoken counterpart into his new profession. Period.