James Toney Loses At UFC 118: 15 Athletes Who'd Be Better MMA Fighters

Adam Hirshfield@ahirshfieldFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2010

James Toney Loses At UFC 118: 15 Athletes Who'd Be Better MMA Fighters

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 02:  James Toney jumps on the ropes after his fight against Samuel Peter during their WBC heavyweight title elimination/NABF & IBA heavyweight championship fight at Staples Center on September 2, 2006 in Los Angeles, California
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    James Toney fought hard against Randy Couture at UFC 118 in Boston, and it was another testament to a serious trend in the sport: non-MMA fighters attempting to make the transition to MMA.

    Brock Lesnar is the prime example of a successful athlete who's made the jump to MMA from another sport.

    But there are plenty who haven't been as successful in the transition: Jose Canseco and Herschel Walker among them.

    Now James Toney may be a bad man. He was 72-6-3 in his long career as a boxer and was a champion at several different levels. 

    But now, at age 42, Toney's fat. At just 5-foot-9, he's expected to weigh in at about 265 pounds. And being a good boxer for 20-plus years doesn't mean jack when you get in the octagon.

    A win against "The Natural" seemed unlikely from the get-go for Toney, and he tapped out with an arm triangle against the MMA legend.

    I'm sure Toney tried his best, but here are 15 other athletes I guarantee would be better suited than Toney to win in mixed martial arts.

15. Nolan Ryan

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    Despite his 324 career wins and an all-time best 5,714 strikeouts, Nolan Ryan may be best known for his 1993 ass-kicking beatdown of Robin Ventura, then of the Chicago White Sox.

    After he brushed back Ventura with a high, tight fastball, Ventura, 20 years younger than the then 46-year-old Ryan, dropped his bat and charged the mound hoping to exact some revenge.

    But Ryan caught the younger Ventura in a headlock and delivered six furious punches to his face and head. Ryan reportedly stated afterward that it was the same technique he used on steers he had to brand on his Texas ranch.


14. Mike Tyson

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    Mike Tyson was one of the baddest dudes to ever enter the ring.

    Then he lost to Buster Douglas.

    Then he tried to bite off Evander Holyfield's ear.

    Didn't help his boxing a whole lot, but maybe it's the kind of thing that would help him in the octagon.

13. Fred McGriff

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    Sure, Fred McGriff hit 493 career home runs, but his crowning achievement is undoubtedly his infomercial appearance for Tom Emanski's defensive drills video.

    OK, it might not have anything to do with his potential ability in the octagon, but his sales skills have stood the test of time much better than Randy Couture's Body By Jake Tower 200.

12. Emanuel Yarbrough

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    Apparently Emanuel Yarbrough is a sumo wrestler and an actual MMA competitor.

    He would be a tough matchup for pretty much anyone under 6-foot-8, 800 pounds, which was his former...ahem...playing weight.

11. Adrian Peterson

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    Adrian Peterson is not only jacked, but he can run through pretty much anyone.

    That could translate into being a pretty solid MMA fighter.

10. Bill Cowher

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    Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher is renown for his mean-faced grimaces. Surely some might be a touch intimidated if they were to face off against him in the octagon.

9. Woody Hayes

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    Speaking of former coaches, old Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes smacked an opposing player in the 1978 Gator Bowl after making a big play against the Buckeyes.

    He might have been 65 at the time, but he was still a mean ole son of a gun.

    Throughout his career, he had numerous run-ins with members of the media. And his volatile temper often overshadowed his legendary coaching ability.

    According to one acquaintance, "Woody's idea of sublimating is to hit someone."

    That's just the kind of approach that could result in a solid reputation in the world of mixed martial arts.

8. Jeff Van Gundy

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    Jeff Van Gundy isn't exactly the biggest or toughest guy out there, but in this memorable brawl between the Knicks and Heat, the then-coach hung on to Alonzo Mourning's leg like it was going out of style.

    That kind of choke hold might serve him well if he entered the world of MMA.

7. Elizabeth Lambert

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    Remember this lovely lass from the University of New Mexico soccer team?

    Elizabeth Lambert gained national recognition last year for kicking an opposing player, punching her in the face, then dragging her down. Later, she offered up an elbow to the back of another and yanked yet another down by her ponytail.

    I'm sure she's a lovely person off the field, but this classic video makes her a classic villain...and a dangerous opponent in the octagon.

6. Kermit Washington

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    The most memorable punch in non-boxing sports history?

    In this amazing video from December 9, 1977 Kermit Washington laid out Rudy Tomjanovich with one punch, shattering his jaw and leaving him unable to play for five months.

    Not to make light of a horrible event and injury, but tell me this kind of power wouldn't serve Washington well in other sports ventures.

5. Eric Cantona

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    Manchester United legend Eric Cantona will be remembered for many things during his time as a Red Devil.

    Perhaps, though, he's most renown for his 1995 kung-fu-style kick of a Crystal Palace fan who was taunting him from the stands after he was sent off for a rough foul.

    Cantona was banned from playing for United for eight months, was fined 30,000 Euros and was stripped of his captaincy of the French national team.

    In 2007 he reportedly said, "I have a lot of good moments, but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan."

    Tell me Cantona's aggression doesn't have "the octagon" written all over it ...

4. Chan Ho Park

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    Remember Chan Ho Park's scissor kick of Tim Belcher? It was after Belcher tagged out Park too aggressively as he was running to first.

    Park's reaction is simply amazing, as he leaps to offer up a kung-fu kick of his own to the shocked Belcher.

    It didn't end up working out all that well, as Belcher blocked the kick rather well, but you still have to give Park credit for his excellent technique.

3. LeGarrette Blount

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    So, LeGarrette Blount, you get suspended from playing your senior season at Oregon for punching a Boise State player after an opening-game loss.

    How do you follow that up and prove your worth to the Tennessee Titans, the team that signed you as an undrafted free agent? By reportedly punching a teammate after a particularly tough preseason practice a few weeks ago.

    This is the kind of guy who's just dying to have the opportunity to punch someone legally. How has Blount's agent not yet contacted Dana White?

2. Darren McCarty

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    Colorado Avalanche forward Claude Lemieux injured Detroit Red Wing Kris Draper in the teams' last matchup with an illegal and dirty hit from behind that cracked Draper's head and face against the boards.

    In the rivals' next game against each other, Darren McCarty, Red Wings enforcer, goes after Lemieux before the opening puck is even dropped.

1. Zinedine Zidane

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    Zinedine Zidane played his last international game in the 2006 World Cup final as France played Italy. Les Bleus ended up losing to the Azzurri on penalty kicks, but few people remember that.

    Everyone remembers, however, what Zidane, arguably the world's best player at the peak of his career, did. Following some choice words from Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the 110th minute of extra time, the quiet, placid, yet fiery midfielder head-butted Materazzi in the chest, sending him to the ground and earning himself a red card.

    That power, that aggression, that steely faced resolve...Zidane has MMA star written all over him.

Dick Butkus (Badass Emeritus)

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    Arguably the meanest mofo to ever lace up his spikes, Dick Butkus deserves a mention on this list.

    Imagine going face-to-face with this guy in the octagon. Scared yet?