Sunday, May 9, 2010

Where does Kimbo go from here?

With UFC 113 finally in the books, I think it's safe to say it was compelling in many ways. First there was the ascension of Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua going on to become Light Heavyweight Champion, especially considering he got choked out in his very first fight in the UFC after being signed with much fanfare. Looking back on it and in all fairness to Rua, it now appears his former knee injury was a factor in his first couple of fights in the UFC.

Then there was the unlikely turn of events in the co-main event between Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley, where Daley, after the fight and on his way to losing a unanimous decision, sucker punched Koscheck. Unfortunately, this one punch was more exciting than anything that happened during the fight, including Koscheck's suspect reaction to an illegal knee strike he supposedly received to the head in the first round; replays seemed to show otherwise, as various angles only showed Koscheck receiving minimal contact at best. It is worth saying that Koscheck has been known for this type of behavior before as he pulled a similar stunt in the first round of his last fight against Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson and had Johnson so upset, he was able to capitalize on his frustrations. Whatever the case, he won the fight although he didn't win any fans, especially in Montreal where he trashed their beloved hockey team with his post-fight comments. With his win however, he did assure himself a coaching spot on the next season of 'The Ultimate Fighter' reality TV series opposite popular welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, which should be money in terms of ratings for the UFC and Spike TV.

However, the most intriguing question that came out of UFC 113, probably surrounds a fighter that would have never been signed by the UFC under normal circumstances. Kevin 'Kimbo Slice' Ferguson is often referred to, and even introduced in the cage, as an "internet sensation". Yet, at this point that may be his one saving grace. Ferguson is a street fighting sensation, which had his fights from backyards and empty lots videotaped and placed on the internet where an underground buzz was created. That buzz led to a foray into the world of Mixed Martial Arts under the now defunct EliteXC promotion banner, where their capitalization of that hype made Ferguson a household name, but inevitably led to their own demise. They banked on 'Kimbo Slice' the street fighter so much they made him the face of their organization and the main event on two nationally televised cards on CBS even though he had a total of two professional fights in his career.

Under those insane types of circumstances and that immense amount of pressure, it was only a matter of time before both Kimbo and EliteXC would crumble. That is exactly what happened when in only his fourth pro fight and on national television, Ferguson got knocked out in 14 seconds by literal last minute replacement and light heavyweight Seth Petruzelli. That one punch was the end of EliteXC and looked like it would be the end of 'Kimbo Slice'. However, Dana White, being the extraordinary promoter that he is, knew that if used properly there was money to be made for both the UFC and Ferguson. He had the perfect vehicle too, his own reality show 'The Ultimate Fighter'.

There he made season 10 all about the heavyweights and all about 'Kimbo Slice'. While Kimbo did not win the show's tournament, he did win over fans with his humble demeanor and willingness to learn and more importantly he gained respect within the MMA community. It garnered him a contract in the UFC and a "safe fight" at a catch weight against a small light heavyweight, Houston Alexander, which he won mainly because Alexander refused to engage. However, his second fight, last night against a legitimate heavyweight Matt Mitrione, would not be so successful. After coming out like a ball of fire in round one, as he always does, his tank started to empty in the second round. His lack of experience, especially in his defense of kicks and groundwork, would ultimately result in the referee coming to his rescue. It should be noted Mitrione was fighting in only his second professional fight.

With his heart in the right place, Ferguson's MMA record now stands at (4-2) against sub-par competition at best. Is he really UFC Material? Definitely not; and now apparently Dana White realizes it as well as he stated in the post-fight press conference he probably would not retain him. So the question is, where does Kimbo go from here? Of course there is Strikeforce, who may be looking to see what if any value the name 'Kimbo Slice' still has left. Personally I've often asked, why did a street fighter, which always talks about just throwing hands and has been unable to grasp the concept of MMA, not try boxing instead? I'm not saying he would have faired any better, but I feel his chances to hone a natural gift of throwing punches and not have to worry about being taken down to the ground may have given him a better opportunity. Alas, at 36 years old it may be too late to try. With so many questions surrounding this enigmatic figure, maybe he should consider changing his moniker from 'Kimbo Slice' to 'The Riddler'?

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