James Toney training in 4 oz. MMA gloves. Photo via M-1GlobalUSA.com
Bernard Hopkins has already weighed in:
"For real. James Toney is out of his league... When you step out into a situation where, against a legend too in his own sport. I believe, and I'll go on the record, that the best MMA guy or UFC guy go up against the best boxer in the world in their arena, in their arena gets their ass kicked. I don't care who it is, whether Floyd, Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins, they get they ass kicked. That is not what we do."
Freddie Roach answers the question put to him by East Side Boxing, can Toney win?
"No. James is a good friend of mine, but he doesn't have the ground game, and is not that big a puncher. I think the UFC is using him just to show that he can be beat by one of their guys, and that they have a better sport than we do. They are just using him as a stepping stone. I wish James wouldn't do it. But boxing is a very important part of UFC. Nobody likes the ground game; everyone wants to see a fight. I do understand that there is a lot to the ground fight, but I am just not a big fan. I think their sport is gearing more toward stand-up rather than ground game. I have worked with most of the greats in UFC, and more are calling me for help. Best part of UFC is when they are striking."
In the full entry we'll hear from Jake Rossen, Toney's trainer Trevor Sherman, and Toney himself:
Jake Rossen thinks that some boxers could possibly do well in MMA, but not Toney:
Two kinds of boxers would have modest success in MMA: The highly athletic and the highly aggressive. Mike Tyson had the fuel-injection momentum of Melvin Manhoef without the kicks, and Manhoef has earned wins despite having no ground aptitude whatsoever. Sometimes a guy's sheer steamrolling is enough.
The second contingent would resemble the early Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic: a hyper-athletic striker who can pick up defensive wrestling quickly. A few years ago, maybe the Klitschkos could've pulled it off.
I'm not willing, as Hopkins is, to totally dismiss any boxer's chances in MMA. But Toney, with his plodding, gut-slop style, ain't the guy.
As for Toney, he says he's ready, via Sherdog:
"Kicking is for girls," Toney said of his cross-training. "I like the grappling part of things. The rear-naked choke and guillotine. I like all that. It's like it came naturally to me."
However, Toney said it's his boxing that will do all the work against Couture come fight time.
"I'm ready and can't wait," said Toney. "I can't wait to show people what a real fighter does with his hands. I've been training for this for about 11 months. I'm born to win. It doesn't matter that this is my first fight."
The Boston Herald has more from Toney:
Toney, who plans on defending his IBF boxing title in October, has been training in MMA full-time in California under Trevor Sherman. He says he's focusing on takedown and Brazilian jiu-jitsu defense.
"I enjoy it. For the past five months I've been preparing for this transition. I'm ready for everything," Toney said. "I'm born to win, that's all I do. Randy is going to be Randy and James is going to be James. Whatever happens happens but I win hands down. I'm going to knock him out."
Trevor Sherman replaced Juanito Ibarra in May as Toney's main MMA trainer. Here's what he has to say about Toney to the L.A. Times:
"He's a natural predator," said Trevor Sherman, the MMA coach who's taught Toney key grappling fundamentals so Toney can land devastating punches if he gets Couture to the mat. "No one has ever stepped into the octagon with this type of striking prowess."
The real X factor I see in all this is the ages of both fighters. Toney is over 40 and Couture is pushing 50. At those ages, either man could enter the cage performing at a dramatically reduced level even from their last fight.