In a match likely to re-ignite the "boxing vs. MMA" debate, a bout between 10-time UFC champion Randy Couture (18-10 MMA, 15-7 UFC) and former boxing champion James Toney (0-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is targeted for the UFC's first trip to Boston.
Fighters Only was the first to report the possibility of the pairing, and MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com
) today confirmed that while the matchup is far from official, it's in the works for a headlining spot at the event.
Although not officially announced, UFC 118 is expected to take place Aug. 28 at the TD Garden in Boston. Two high-profile lightweight fights are currently on tap for the Northeast event: newly minted champion Frankie Edgar fights the man he deposed for the belt, B.J. Penn, in an immediate rematch of their recent UFC 112 bout, and two-time contender Kenny Florian faces standout Gray Maynard.
The weight limit of Couture vs. Toney is currently undetermined. Couture is now two fights into a second stint as a light heavyweight, while Toney is primarily regarded as a heavyweight in the boxing world.
The position of Couture vs. Toney on UFC 118's card is also unknown at this time, though sources close to the event say it will likely take a headline or co-headline slot.
Toney, 41, won a UFC contract in early March after a protracted trash-talk campaign against UFC president Dana White and several mixed martial arts fighters. The former boxing champion sought the guidance of boxing and MMA coach Juanito Ibarra and at several points welcomed a fight with Couture (though he called out virtually every MMA star he could name).
Toney is currently training with Ibarra in Southern California as he prepares for his MMA debut.
Couture, 46, railroaded fellow UFC Hall of Fame member Mark Coleman in his most recent performance at UFC 109. The win shook off controversy that lingered after his prior appearance, a close decision victory over Brandon Vera at UFC 105 this past November, and put him on track for a shot at the 205-pound title.
When Toney signed, however, Couture expressed an immediate interest in welcoming the boxer to MMA.
Couture lost his heavyweight title to current champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 91. A subsequent setback against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102 prompted a move to the 205-pound class.
He remains one of only two men to hold titles in two different weight classes (He won light heavyweight gold three times with wins over Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Vitor Belfort and heavyweight gold against Maurice Smith, Kevin Randleman, Tim Sylvia and Gabriel Gonzaga).
A part-time actor in addition to his pugilistic responsibilities, Couture's new movie, "The Expendables," is set to premiere on Aug. 12, a little more than two weeks before UFC 118.
UFC 118 is the first major MMA event to arrive in Massachusetts. This past November, the state's governor, Deval Patrick, signed into law a bill that calls for the Massachusetts State Boxing Commission to become the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission and oversee MMA events.
TD Garden, an indoor venue that is home to the NBA's Boston Celtics and NHL's Boston Bruins, has a maximum capacity of more than 19,000.