Although his 199 second foray into the world of mixed martial arts was brief, it’s an experience boxing legend James Toney will likely never forget. However, I’m sure he would more than love to erase the nightmare that was UFC 118 from his memory bank.
Octagon Hall of Famer Randy Couture was a heavy 6-to-1 favorite to ruin Toney’s MMA debut, and “The Natural” proved the Gambling Gods true Saturday night inside TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. It took the Greco Roman wrestler all of 15 seconds to put the slugger on his back, as Couture dove in early for a unique takedown attempt.
“This is exactly what we trained to do,” Couture said after his brief workout. “No one really shoots a low single in MMA. I knew with James’ boxing stance, a low single would probably be there, and it worked.
“I’ve worked on that arm-triangle for over a year now, so to finally get it, it was awesome.”
Although Toney brought his boxing bravado with him to Beantown, a prayer and a puncher’s chance were the only things he legitimately had to offer to his new profession. Unfortunately, his Hail Mary was denied the instant he started to stare up at the 17 championship banners the Celtics have hanging from their rafters. The C’s won’t be unveiling number 18 after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals ;).
Undeniably, right from the jump, it was like taking candy from a baby.
“I think, realistically, even if he’s been training nine months, that’s real short order to pick up everything he needed to know for mixed martial arts,” he matter-of-factly explained. “I’m a huge fan of boxing. A lot of credit to James for stepping up in here. He’s the first boxer to do that.
“I think all of us MMA guys love boxing, and hopefully, now, there’s a whole bunch of boxers like James that will start to love MMA.”
After watching his 0-1 record flash on the screen, the Toney promised to return much improved.
“I didn’t expect him to be so aggressive at first,” he said. “He just caught me. He got me on the ground and I couldn’t get out of the triangle choke. But I’ll be back. I ain’t no quitter.”
Unfortunately for Toney, UFC president Dana White saw enough during that three minute and 19 second trouncing to know he doesn’t want any more. The promoter emphasized on multiple occasions during the post-fight press conference that Toney was one-and-done inside the Octagon.