Kimbo Slice Needs His Bread
Years ago, an internet legend was born, in the form of Miami street fighter Kevin Ferguson, aka Kimbo Slice. I witnessed the Kimbo hype unfold on the forums of my favorite online community: www.mixedmartialarts.com. With the help of The Underground Forum, its members (affectionately known as UGers), and their many insider connections, Kimbo became an online sensation. www.youtube.com/watch His bloody, bareknuckled brawls were a thing of beauty to alpha-males everywhere, and a definite source of some serious badassery. In an age when everyone wanted to fake-tan and make kissy lips, Kimbo seemed to be a bona fide enforcer and real-life tough guy. The more interest in him, the more people really began to ask: how would a backyard KO artist match-up with the new bread of martial artist – disciplined, experienced, and well-rounded. The results? Interesting.
In Kimbo’s first real fight against an MMA fighter (Sept 2005), he took on Sean Gannon, a Boston cop who also twilighted as a pro fighter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a sanctioned fight and there was much confusion about the rules. Who won? According to those who’ve seen it, it was Kimbo’s first documented loss ever. www.youtube.com/watch Although Kimbo wasn’t beat down by Gannon, purists could definitely see the holes in his game. His weakness? You guessed it – age, poor wrestling, lack of submission knowledge, and cardio. Regardless, the businessmen of MMA saw the writing on the viral wall and got Kimbo into a smaller organization that wanted to market him as their star. So even though the Gannon fight was a disaster for Kimbo and his posse, it did provide enough legitimacy to catapult him into a real MMA organization, where you fight trained fighters and you’re compensated in real cash. The results? Interesting.
After being fed a few tomato cans (fight slang for journeymen), Kimbo finally got exposed on national TV by Seth Petruzelli: Kimbo TKOd by no-name in 14 seconds. Although he lost in less than one minute, he did secure a cool half-million for his “efforts”. Even with his new-found fame and money, Kimbo’s star was starting to fade. MMA’s de facto leader Mr. Dana White, otherwise known as “The Baldfather” or Dana “f*cking” White, saw his opportunity. The UFC’s main outlet to the public (the weekly reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter”) was suffering from the too-much-of-the-same treatment and it needed a spark. Enter the Miami Brawler Kimbo Slice. Dana made it very simple: if you want in the f*cking big show, you have to f*cking earn it.
Although Kimbo didn’t win the reality competition and become THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER (season 10) he did show a lot of heart, a good work ethic and willingness to learn, and was just overall a really nice guy. Because of this, and because of his name recognition, Dana decided to give him a contract in the big show anyway. There have been many rumors on Kimbo’s compensation, and I don’t wish to try to verify or disprove any of them. I’ll just say that it can be assumed he was making much better money under the bright lights of The Octagon ™ than under the dirty street lights of Miami-Dade County, Fla.
So all’s peachy in Kimbo land? He found a home and a promotion that cares, and now he’ll be able to continue his development and someday challenge for the coveted HW belt? Not quite. Dana, ever the crafty business man, had other plans. Fight purists have long known that Kimbo couldn’t hang with the upper echelon of MMA heavyweights. He’s simply the fight game’s version of a one-hit-wonder, which ironically happens to be a very polite, engaging, and well-spoken guy.
Last Saturday, “The Baldfather”, in an obviously choreographed move, matched Mr. Ferguson up with a real up-and-comer and ex-NFL football player, 6’2” 255 lb., Matt Mitrione.
It was Kimbo’s first appearance on Pay-Per-View, and it wasn’t pretty. The street fighter was broken. Mitrione was simply bigger, younger, stronger, and more talented. It was a very tough fight to watch for anyone who’s ever gotten a chance to “know” the youtube legend. Kimbo was leg-kicked, taken-down, bruised, and battered for almost a full two rounds before the ref finally stepped in and stopped the massacre: Mitrione Dominates Kimbo With 2nd Round TKO.
It’s a shame that MMA, a sport that for years survived based solely on community, philanthropy, and hard work, has all of a sudden become Americanized. But I can’t fault Dana. It’s his cagey business sense and work-ethic, coupled with the pureness and aggressiveness of no-holds-barred fighting, that has been giving televised MMA a major chunk of the coveted 18-34 yr. old male genre, whenever it’s on the screen.
Fact: If it wasn’t for Mr. White paying attention to the dollars and cents, we might not be where we are today. Is that a good place? We’ll see. All I know is that I watch a lot less MMA than used to. Maybe I liked it more when it consisted of backyard brawls and Japanese freak-show matchups. Can the current MMA model work, where the UFC is first and everyone else, including the fighters, is last? We’ll see.
If you want more info on Kevin Ferguson, aka Kimbo Slice, check out his wiki, or come on over to The Underground Forums and sign up for a free account. MMA and various other R-rated topics are always being discussed (in the most diplomatic and polite manner possible of course). Thanks for reading!