by David P. Greisman, live from ringside
BOSTON – James Toney never threw a punch. Randy Couture threw one punch from his feet. It didn’t land. It didn’t need to.
Couture feinted shooting for a takedown, sent out a jab and then dove in for Toney’s legs, taking him down about 20 seconds into the fight.
Down he stayed for another three minutes, submitting just 199 seconds after the fight began to an arm triangle choke from Couture.
Toney was a great boxer. Couture was a great mixed martial artist. Couture respected boxing but recognized the difference between the two combat sports. Toney respected mixed martial arts but did not realize the competitive advantage a mixed martial artist has when fighting involves more than punching.
Toney knew Couture wouldn’t be foolish enough to stand and trade with him. Toney was foolish enough to think he could catch Couture as he tried to take him to the ground.
Couture, a 47-year-old former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion who at 220 pounds is still in exceptional shape, immediately put himself in mount position. Toney, a 42-year-old former boxing middleweight, super-middleweight and cruiserweight titlist who hasn’t been in good shape in years, tried to pull guard, bringing Couture down to him to try to keep him from raining in punches from above.
While Toney somewhat succeeded with that, though only temporarily he never could improve his position, and all the while Couture bided his time, working toward finishing the fight.
When Toney had him held close, Couture would dig in punches to the ample 237-pound body of Toney. When Toney could not hold him close, Couture would throw punches from up top. He soon pushed Toney along the mat toward the Octagon’s cage and sank in an arm triangle choke, wrapping his own arms around Toney’s neck and left arm, a tight squeeze that would be nigh impossible for a neophyte such as Toney to escape from.
Toney didn’t submit at that moment, though. But it would come soon enough.
Toney had been positioned somewhat on his side during the first arm triangle attempt. Soon he would be on his back, again with Couture applying an arm triangle with Toney’s left arm trapped.
Toney waved his free right hand, submitting 3 minutes and 19 seconds into the round.
Toney is 72-6-3 with 2 no contests in the boxing ring. He is a future Hall of Famer. He is 0-1 in the Octagon and likely will not return to such confines again.
Couture is now 19-10 in mixed martial arts and is already in the UFC Hall of Fame while still an active fighter. He didn’t need this win to prove his dominance.
Nor did this bout prove any dominance in the tired Boxing vs. MMA debate. They have been and will remain two different sports. Whether one sport is better is wholly dependent on taste. As for whether a fighter is better? Well, that’s easier to decide: A mixed martial artist trying his hand in boxing would have tremendous difficulty against a pro boxer. And a pro boxer trying his hand in mixed martial arts will have tremendous difficulty against a pro mixed martial artist.
As boxing fans know, styles make fights. That is the way it is in MMA, whether it is Ray Mercer tapping out to inexperienced mixed martial artist Kimbo Slice or Ray Mercer knocking out former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.
Styles make fights, and in mixed martial arts, one needs more to his style than boxing to win.
AS FOR THE REST OF THE SHOW:
- Frankie Edgar W5 BJ Penn (lightweights).
All three scorecards read 50-45 for Edgar, who retains the UFC lightweight championship he won by defeating Penn in their first go-around. This rematch was even clearer in favor of Edgar, who was faster and better, frustrating Penn, landing more punches, getting more takedowns.
Edgar, of Toms River, N.J., is now 13-1. Penn, if Hilo, Hawaii, is now 15-7-1.
- Demian Maia W3 Mario Miranda (middleweights).
Maia is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert known for his submission game. This fight became Maia working for submissions and largely negating anything Miranda tried to do. Not exactly crowd-pleasing.
All three judges scored the bout 30-27.
Maia, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is now 13-2. Mario Miranda, a Brazilian fighting out of Kirkland, Wash., is now 12-2.
- Gray Maynard W3 Kenny Florian (lightweights).
Both fighters were too respectful of each other for the first two rounds, with Maynard scoring points with the occasional takedown. The third saw more action, including a couple submission attempts from Florian in a comeback attempt not just for the round, but for the fight. Alas, to no avail.
Scorecards were 30-27 (twice) and 29-28.
Maynard, of Phoenix, is now 11-0 with 1 no contest and has earned a shot at the lightweight title. Florian, of Westwood, Mass., is now 15-5.
- Nate Diaz SUBMISSION3 Marcus Davis (welterweights).
What had been almost three full rounds of boxing ended on the ground with an anaconda choke that left Davis unconscious for more than a minute.
Davis was bleeding from the first round on from a bad cut over his right eye. Diaz worsened it, using jabs and combinations from a distance, and Davis just couldn’t close the gap. Diaz took Davis down in the third and got the choke in. The referee, Yves Lavigne, stupidly lifted Davis’ arm not once, but twice to check if he was out – and he was OUT – before stopping the bout what seemed to be dangerously late.
Time of stoppage was 4:02.
Diaz, of Stockton, Calif., is now 13-5. Davis, of Bangor, Maine, is now 22-8.
- Joe Lauzon TAPOUT1 Gabe Ruediger (lightweights).
Lauzon landed all the big shots, had all the big slams, and then taps Ruediger out with an armbar in front of a loud, adoring hometown crowd. Time of the stoppage was 2:01.
Lauzon, of Bridgewater, Mass., is now 18-5. Ruediger is now 17-6.
- Nik Lentz W3 Andre Winner (lightweights).
Those fans who weren’t booing were rendered comatose as Lentz spent three rounds looking for takedowns from the clinch and Winner spent three rounds trying to avoid being taken down from the clinch.
“That fight is ratings gold,” joked one guy on press row.
Scorecards were 30-27 (twice) and 29-28. Huge boos as those scores were announced.
Lentz, of Eden Prairie, Minn., is now 21-3-2. Winner, of Nottingham, England, is now 12-4-1.
- Dan Miller TAPOUT2 John Salter (middleweights).
Miller caught Salter with an anaconda choke as Salter shot in for a takedown. Beautiful submission. Time of stoppage was 1 minute and 53 seconds into the round.
Miller, of Whippany, N.J., is now 12-4 with 1 no contest. Salter, of Tuscalossa, Ala., is now 5-2.
- Greg Soto W3 Nick Osipczak (welterweights). All three scorecards read 29-28 for Soto. Interesting moment in the third round: Soto is dominating Osipczak on the ground and is attempting to apply an arm triangle. Osipczak, with his free left hand, unfurls his middle finger in the direction of Soto’s head.
Soto, of Point Pleasant, N.J., is now 8-1. Osipczak, of Nottingham, England, is now 5-3.
- Mike Pierce TAPOUT3 Amilcar Alves (welterweights). Pierce gets the tapout with what appeared to be his third kimura attempt of the round, but the end was announced as being a cross-body armbar. I’m enough of an MMA fan that I know a kimura from Kimora Lee Simmons, but I’d no idea about the cross-body armbar.
Pierce, of Vancouver, Wash., is now 11-3. Alves, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is now 11-2.
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com. He may be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]