Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Aug. 20, 2010 | 11:12 p.m.
Randy Couture remembers what it felt like to receive little credit for all he had accomplished in wrestling when he first transitioned to mixed martial arts.
It’s part of the reason the UFC legend is giving former world champion boxer James Toney a chance to beat him in their heavyweight fight on Aug. 28 — even when few others are.
“I don’t think it’s a freak show,” said Couture, who is a 7-to-1 favorite over Toney. “I give him credit for the things he’s accomplished in boxing. I certainly accomplished a lot of things in wresting that nobody gave me credit for when I made my way in to MMA.
“Those combative sports count for something. James is going to be dangerous.”
Of course, when push comes to shove, Couture (18-10) admits he sees the fight going as many are predicting it will.
Although Toney’s boxing background is nothing to take lightly, Couture’s reputation of fighting smart and utilizing the takedown point to a tough night for the MMA newcomer.
Known for creating game plans, Couture is so excited for the one he’ll use against Toney he can’t keep it a secret.
After posting just the third submission win of his career in his last fight against Mark Coleman, Couture is looking forward to the possibility of a cutting of Toney’s air supply for his fourth.
“I would love to choke the hell out of him,” Couture said. “I think that’s a big piece of MMA and certainly a big piece I’ve been working on.”
The matchup in styles favors Couture so much, he admits it’s probably why he was given the fight against Toney over anyone else.
“I suspect it’s because I tend to be a cerebral fighter,” Couture said of why UFC brass chose him to welcome Toney to the sport. “They probably realize I have a good chance of taking him down, putting him on his back and making the point that needs to be made.”
The bout is being marketed as the "UFC vs. boxing," although Couture says he doesn’t see it that way.
Throughout all his years of competing in mixed martial arts, Couture has never had a bad thing to say about boxing and has actually always tried to make it a part of his game.
Especially at this point in his career, Couture is much more excited to take interesting fights in the UFC than lead the argument between which sport is better — which is why it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever agree to meet Toney in a boxing ring after this fight.
“I’m not the one saying, ‘boxers suck.’ I have a lot of respect for what boxers do and I’ve never had any illusion that I’m a world-class boxer," Couture said. "I’m a mixed martial artist.”
At 47-years-old, Couture seems comfortable with forgetting about another title run unless it’s presented to him first.
That said, retirement seems to be the furthest thing from Couture’s mind.
When asked what opponent he’d like to fight in the near future, it’s clear he’s certainly not looking for an easy fight.
“I’ve said all along Lyoto (Machida),” Couture said. “He’s kind of been an enigma to everyone, (Mauricio Shogun Rua) was the first to kind of solve that equation. Shogun himself would be interesting. Those are two guys at the top of the heap right now.”