Despite the marketing leading up to UFC 118, Randy (The Natural) Couture doesn't consider his fight with James (Lights Out) Toney to be boxing versus mixed martial arts.
"I don't think there's anything extra riding on this -- it's still a mixed martial arts competition," Couture said on a recent UFC conference call. "Boxing is a great sport. I've enjoyed boxing my whole life, but this is still the octagon and it's still MMA. There's cage tactics, there's ground fighting, there are a lot of things that don't happen in boxing that are going to happen in the cage."
The former UFC heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion meets the current IBA heavyweight titleholder in the co-main event of UFC 118 Sat., Aug. 28 in Boston. The show will be headlined by a lightweight championship rematch between Frankie (The Answer) Edgar and (The Prodigy) B.J. Penn.
Though Couture (18-10) remains adamant Toney (0-0 MMA; 72-6-3, 2 NC boxing) will have to adapt to be successful, he admits his opponent offers a slew of new problems he must overcome.
"The question is, what other skill sets and what other things is James going to be able to learn and try to execute in this fight?" Couture said. "That's going to determine how much it's just boxing versus MMA. Obviously the rules of engagement for me are purely MMA, so you know it will be interesting to see what other things James develops specifically for this fight.
"James has a unique boxing style and he sets his stance in a particular way and I've had to adjust tactics and training to fit that and to try to be effective in a different way."
In preparation for his MMA debut, Toney's been training wrestling with Muhammed (King Mo) Lawal and Antonio McKee, as well as working with submission ace Dean Lister. However, he expects to use his boxing expertise to knock Couture out.
"Everybody join me on the 28th and you can see James do what he does best and that's hit," Toney said. "I'm not worried about whatever Randy's going to do. Randy's going to be Randy, James will be James. Whatever happens happens. But you know what? I'm winning, point blank, hands down.
"I'm having fun with it; I'm enjoying it. I've had a lot of great help over the last nine months preparing for the transition. I'm ready, I'm born to win. That's all I do."
Toney said he isn't worried about Couture's wrestling credentials.
"If I hit Randy flush, he isn't getting up," Toney said.
"Randy can worry about what he does and I'll worry about what I do. He says he's going to lay on top of me. God bless him. I'm not female so it isn't going down like this. He's getting knocked out -- straight up."
Toney's decision to try his hand at MMA was fuelled by a lack of big fights left in boxing.
"I've been on top of the world for 10 years now," Toney said. "For two and a half years now, I can't get anybody in boxing (to fight me). There are no big names in boxing.
"So Randy Couture is the only man, whether it's boxing or MMA, to sign on the dotted line and I congratulate him. I thank him for stepping up to the plate."
When asked about the bout in the past, UFC president Dana White has said Couture will make an example of the boxing champion. Toney has responded by saying White is next after he's done with Couture.
"I'm sure that Dana's well aware of James' comments and will have an eye on him," Couture said. "I don't think that's really going to be an issue. Dana's giving him a big opportunity here to get a lot of notoriety and compete. I don't think James is that kind of fighter. He's going to do his fighting in the ring and in the cage."