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Falls Count Anywhere


...but I forgot to write my tag line...
My name is Chris and Derek remembered to post this the day I meant it to be posted!

Boxer vs. Wrestler. That’s what UFC 118 presented as their main drawing card. Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture, the legendary MMA star and former world-class wrestler who might be the most impressive 47 year-old man on the planet when it comes to fighting. James Toney was a World Champion boxer not too long ago, having his last fight about a year ago.

Couture is 47. Toney, 42. Both of those numbers would normally make you think they were over the hill, but both have been showing remarkable staying power. UFC set-up their fight as the biggest battle between a wrestler and a boxer in decades.

The last time there was a fight between a boxer and wrestler that got this sort of attention, it was Muhammad Ali taking on Antonio Inoki in Japan. 1976, May. New Japan Pro Wrestling put together the match, initially with a very simple set of rule. The plan was for Inoki and Ali to work a match with Inoki winning. Ali would get a 6 million dollar pay-off. Inoki would get the win and that would propel him into the US market as a major star. He was already a good-sized name among a number of wrestling fans, but he could say that he beat Ali, and have it shown at major wrestling events around the country.

There were a lot of problems. First off, the plans for major events around the country to tie-in with the Inoki-Ali fight being shown closed-circuit went poorly. There was a lot of in-fighting, and many of the promoters pulled out.

Part of the reason was the build-up. Ali used Freddie Blassie as his mouthpiece to wrestling fans, which was great, but Ali showed up on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and that was a major problem. Howard Cosell refused to play along, saying that it was all a farce and that Ali could actually get hurt. They taped Ali beating guys at an AWA show, which was weird. In the end, only the WWWF ran a show at Shea Stadium and there was a good show in Florida, but those were the only big shows.

The match also happened to suck. In the end, Ali refused to do the job, so they decided to make it into a shoot and give these rules that really hamstrung Inoki, who could not use submissions. Or suplexes. Or pretty much any wrestling hold.

They did fifteen rounds, and pretty much the only thing that happened was Inoki kicking Ali in his legs. Yes, it was important to the career of Ali, as the punishment he took shortened his career. (Guess Cosell was right!)

"...just give me the money..."
There have been a lot of other matches between boxers and wrestlers, and at the first UFC there was a boxer in the mix. The Couture vs. Toney fight was the biggest UFC match with a boxer ever, and it went pretty much as everyone thought.

If Toney couldn’t get a good punch in fast, Couture would take him down, wrestle him and tap him out. It happened in less than 4 minutes. Toney didn’t show up to fight, but merely to accept a paycheck. He was about twenty pounds too heavy and showed very little. The amazing thing was that the crowd was huge into the fight, especially chanting for Couture. They even chanted ‘Thank You, Randy’ at the end.

The result is the important thing, because it establishes the UFC as the home for the best fighters. Of course, Boxing Supremacists will point out that this was not a boxer in his prime, though who could really say that Couture was? I don’t think anyone really could.

This thing will only be solved when the World Heavyweight Champions of boxing and UFC meet. I think it’ll happen some day, just not soon.

Chris Garcia

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