Thursday, October 1, 2009

My take on the Kimbo Slice fight

For those of you who don't follow the UFC or its reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, last night on that show--which, yes, I watch--underground fighting star Kimbo Slice fought former International Fight League Roy "Big Country" Nelson. Slice (real name: Kevin Ferguson) lost the fight in a second-round TKO via referee stoppage. I've had some fan mail asking for my take on both the fight and the behavior of both fighters in the house that all 16 fighters/contestants share, so I thought I'd give you a few of my observations here.

What we see about the fighters and life in the house is only what the show's producers and directors want us to see.

This point is vital and one we should never forget, because we can't trust what we see for most of the show. In the build-up to this fight, they made Slice look like a wonderful fellow and Nelson appear to be a jerk. Maybe those perceptions are valid, but maybe they're not; we can't be sure.

What we can know for certain is that the producers cut this show to maximize its appeal because, hey, that's their job. They cut it after the fight was over, so they knew Slice had lost. Making one person a good guy (in pro wrestling speak, a "face") and another a bad man (a "heel") is a standard way to boost ratings, and these folks are well aware of that fact.

Nelson's skills were clearly beyond Slice's.

If you can't see that, then you weren't watching. Nelson took down Slice with ease, went immediately to side control, then without a lot of effort put Slice in the crucifix position, where Slice was helpless.

Of course, both these guys could kick my fat old ass, but I wasn't in the octagon with either of them. Nor will I be, unless the purse is huge--and then, watch for a new record in falling down fast.

The fact that Nelson doesn't want to sustain damage doesn't make him a bad person.

Nelson has said in blogs and, more or less, on the show that he wants to win the entire contest without sustaining any significant damage. Given that the winner must fight three times in about six weeks, this strategy strikes me as intelligent--even though the result can be boring fights. These guys either already fight for a living or hope one day to do that, so taking care of themselves is a good move.

The fact that once Nelson was controlling Slice he didn't hit the guy hard does not make him a bad person.

Slice was helpless. Dana White was correct to say that Nelson hit Slice with weak shots, but what would have been the point of Nelson putting all of his power into the punches to Slice's head? To hurt the guy more? Nelson had the victory in the bag, and he knew it. If anything, this behavior suggests Nelson was being nice.

This was a sorry fight.

The UFC hype machine is pushing this bout for all its worth, but the fact is that the fight was dull and already over well before the ref called it.

In fact, all the fights so far on this show have been bad.

None of the guys we've seen fight could hang with any top ten heavyweight.

Six of the heavyweights have fought so far. All have punching power, so in any given fight each of them would have a puncher's chance, but put them in the octagon with anyone on pretty much any site's top-ten heavyweight list (such as this one), and they will lose quickly. Nelson is the only one we've seen so far who might make it out of the first round. Might.

None of this matters to the UFC.

Good fight or bad fight, truthful or heavily doctored versions of the fighters--none of this matters, because last night's episode averaged 5.3 million viewers, a huge figure and a record for the show. Slice is, at least for now, ratings in the bank, and the UFC, despite White's earlier criticisms of him, is smart enough to cash in on him for as long as it can.

We'll see Slice again in the octagon.

He's already leaked as much on the blogs, but we didn't need that info to know this would happen. The ratings of this episode guaranteed that later appearance. Fighters who put butts in seats get return engagements. Period.


Michael said...

I would definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, agree that none of the fighters so far this season have looked in any way impressive.

I think the Kimbo fight was most of all a huge let down because it had the most potential and hype.

I still hope that he is able to train up and get another shot at Roy before the end of this and actually make him have to fight in order to win, or lose, the competition.

In further observation, do you think that Roy is possibly too experienced a fighter to be a show like this? In my history of watching TUF most fighters have between 3-6 pro fights coming into the show, Roy has 15.

Mark said...

I, too, would like to see Slice fight again--and be improved from his time with good trainers on the show and his time with ATT.

I don't think Nelson is too experienced. He trains himself and could clearly benefit from trainers of the caliber of those on the show. I just don't know if he believes that, and if he doesn't, he won't try to improve himself.


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