I know this is coming out of left field with Shine Fights and the Strikeforce show happening this weekend, but I've been thinking about this since last week and had to put it out there. Here's what we know:
-Couture vs. Toney is being targeted for UFC 118 in Boston Massachusetts(but not officially signed)
-Lyoto Machida will be back in two months since he doesn't need surgery after his loss to Shogun Rua
-Couture wants a title shot within six months.
So with that said, now is the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Couture has openly admitted that the Toney fight does nothing for him in regards to helping him get closer to a title fight. He has always expressed interest in fighting Lyoto Machida(while Machida was champion), and Machida is still probably #2 in the world as a LHW. So if Couture wants a title shot in this six month time frame, there's no quicker way to the title than a win over the #2 ranked guy in the world.
I've been openly critical in regards to Couture getting another title shot without earning it. However, I would have no qualms with him doing so if he was able to get past Machida. It's an intriguing matchup to say the least with Couture's vaunted Greco-Roman wrestling against Machida's Karate and Judo.
Let's look at the logistics.
UFC 118 is targeted for August 28th and Couture is already targeted to be on the card, the issue could possibly rely with Machida. It was reported yesterday that Machida would be back in training in two months. He fought Shogun Rua on May 8th which would give him roughly 3 and a half months in-between fights. That should give Machida enough time for a 6-8 week training camp or so. Which should be ample considering all the training and time in-between UFC 104 and UFC 113.
The UFC 118 show is going to do huge numbers with or without Toney, in fact I'll speak on his drawing power later. The featured fights on the card looks like this:
-Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn II(UFC Lightweight Title)
-Randy Couture vs. James Toney/Lyoto Machida
-Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard
That's a triple main event sort of like UFC 92. Why not use the time to let Toney train a bit more and have him face someone along the likes of Matt Mitrione on a UFN event? The ratings on that show would give you a sense of his drawing power, and if the ratings are good then they could move him on to PPV status. Toney is an excellent talker/promoter, but I'm just not sold on his ability to draw fans in to watch him fight MMA at this point. If he lost to Mitrione, well that would be the end of Toney in the UFC. If he got past Mitrione, THEN have him fight Couture or the winner of Liddell/Franklin.
Toney has admitted that he's only a part-time MMA fighter and the guy will be 42 yrs old just weeks before UFC 118 will take place. Is having him in the co-main event slot in his MMA debut justifiable in a fight that means nothing in the grand scheme of things?
If Dana White is serious about Couture being a top 5 LHW, then he should book this fight with Machida and let the chips fall where they may at UFC 118.