F Ring, cage face off at Garden - Powcast Sports

Ring, cage face off at Garden

By Mark Daniels / UFC 118 | http://news.bostonherald.com

When Randy “The Natural” Couture and James “Lights Out” Toney square off at UFC 118 later this month at TD Garden, it’ll mark the first time a standout and relevant boxer steps inside the octagon.

The UFC bills its first trip to Boston Aug. 28 as a boxing vs. MMA affair, the two worlds colliding under the mixed martial arts banner. Though both heavyweights are past their primes, Couture (age 47) and Toney (41) have made waves in their respective sports.

Couture is a UFC Hall of Famer, three-time former champion and one of only two fighters to win a UFC title in two different divisions - light heavyweight and heavyweight. He had his first-ever MMA fight at UFC 13 in 1997. Simply put, he’s a pioneer of the sport and proud to represent it.

“I’ve been representing mixed martial arts in a lot of venues for a long time,” Couture said. “Back when this sport was being banned all over and most people couldn’t understand who we were and what we did. It’s an honor for me to be considered for this fight and to kind of carry the mixed martial arts mantel.”

Toney is the current IBA heavyweight champion, as well as the former IBF middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight champ. He’s 72-6 with 44 KOs in the ring and hasn’t lost since 2007, but MMA is a much different fight game.

MMA fighters wear just 4-ounce gloves, so boxers can use them for more defensive purposes. A boxer’s stance is different because he doesn’t have to worry about leg kicks and defending takedowns. Then there’s the ground game, and worrying about both submissions and ground-and-pound.

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.”

Former WBO heavyweight champion Ray Mercer, 49, has thrown his hat into the MMA game with mixed success. He lost via submission to Kimbo Slice in an exhibition bout, but then knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia in nine seconds last summer.

Don’t expect Couture to get caught up in the MMA vs. boxing hype.

“There’s no pressure. I don’t think there’s anything riding on this for the sport. This is a mixed martial arts competition,” Couture said. “Boxing is a great sport. I’ve enjoyed boxing my whole life, but this is still the octagon and still MMA. There’s cage tactics, there’s ground fighting. There’s a lot of things that don’t happen in boxing that are going to happen when you get in the cage.”

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