MENU
#Fight Night Stockholm #Alexander Gustafsson #Glover Teixeira #Colosseum #Conor McGregor #Volkan Oezdemir #Peter Sobotta #Ben Saunders #Jon Jones #Dynasty of Heroes #Bojan Velickovic #Nicholas Musoke #Nordine Taleb #Oliver Enkamp


The same week that UFC President Dana White's glowering, slightly pouty mug was inexplicably splayed across copies of Men's Fitness -- a magazine with a last-reported circulation of 700,000 -- rough-knuckled Kimbo Slice took up residence on the cover of ESPN: The Magazine (cir: 1.95 million) and was featured in a one-page spread in Entertainment Weekly (cir: 1.725 million).

It is conceivable that his pending destruction of James Thompson (Pictures) on Saturday's premiere EliteXC telecast on CBS will be the most-watched fight in mixed martial arts history. CBS routinely draws a minimum three to four million viewers in that timeslot -- as much as 13 million for a big NCAA sporting event. Household familiarity with the network and recent media ogling could help Elite best the roughly five million couch occupants who watched the UFC's Quinton Jackson (Pictures) outpoint Dan Henderson (Pictures) on Spike last September.

Ratings, circulation, carry the one, blah, blah. To the point: for better or worse, Slice is poised to become the most notable (some might say notorious) freestyle fighting athlete in North America, the bearded face of a burgeoning sport that has long struggled for public acceptance and respect. For many, the impression of this complex, neurally and physically demanding activity will be distilled to Slice's haymakers robbing Thompson of consciousness in a pithy scrap that seems predestined to last less than 90 seconds.

This is not, as President Roosevelt may have said to Robert Oppenheimer, an idea that fills me with relief.

It's not Slice's alley cat vibe that concerns, or the inked physique that seems straight out of Folsom. On the contrary: all reports point to the man being gracious with admirers, hard-working, and eager to treat his new profession with respect. The dichotomy between his features and his humility is a nice media hook. Nor is his fighting style -- Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Fu -- poised to put any people off. As compelling as the ground game is, most people watch prizefights to see neurons leak out of ears.

The issue with Slice as MMA's prodigal son is this: he's had only two professional fights, both of which were against ridiculously mediocre opposition. There are a lot of journeyman sluggers who would look like supermen against the questionable mettle of Bo Cantrell (Pictures) and a rapidly-aging "Tank" Abbott. Slice just happened to the one who got the opportunity.

What EliteXC is ostensibly banking on is a man who is attempting to enter a grueling profession at the disconcerting age of 34. And worse: aside from some high school football, he has virtually no background in organized athletics.

The banner of mainstream MMA, in short, is being pinned on a guy with exactly 62 seconds logged in the ring. Arena entrances take longer.

This is not to accuse Elite of any misguided promotional decisions. An organization can hype talent, but fandom makes the ultimate decision on their value to the bottom line. Slice has resonated with people in such a way that using him as a pillar for a fledging business is an obvious proposition in an industry that has very few guarantees.

So what becomes of Slice the neophyte? Will Elite continue to schedule quarterly appointments with glass-jawed sluggers in much the same way Tyson built his reputation on a traveling tour of monthly beatings? Will mainstream media recognize his limited skillset? What will happen when promoters match him against a relevant heavyweight? (Does Elite even have any relevant heavyweights?)

With less than two years logged on the mats, it's not unreasonable to expect that any credible wrestler with some submission acumen who can get Slice to the ground will devour a limb. Even in his outsized condition, I'd wager Ricco Rodriguez (Pictures) and his decade-plus of grappling would be too much for a reformed street fighter. Promoters would sooner book Slice against Wesley Correira (Pictures), a striker of questionable ring age who is unlikely to take a shot at anyone's legs.

His saving grace? The fact that the heavyweights are routinely the least technically proficient demographic in the sport. (Imagine a 34 year old with no collegiate wrestling, striking, or grappling background debuting in the lightweight division.) If Elite is so inclined, Slice could stay busy pretty much indefinitely fighting opponents of suspect ability.

Whether viewers will tolerate that indefinitely is another issue.

Stripped to his bones, Slice is really just the latest lightning rod for the same kind of morbid curiosity that the earliest, most violently-contested UFC events attracted. Now that mixed bouts are sanctioned and usually attract individuals of significant athletic competency, they've lost a bit of their mystique.

That Christians/lions motif was resurrected when Slice began mowing down foes in Miami backyard bare knucklers. It gave us the same sensation we had when we first saw Scott Morris reduced to fleshy ribbons under the fists of Pat Smith -- that anything could happen and it was likely to be something sudden, violent, and definitive. That feeling is bound to end the moment Slice gets entangled in a competent grappler's game.

There's nothing wrong with a good firefight, and Slice is certainly capable of igniting them. But until he's neck-deep in a ground attack, there's no reason to believe he's anything more than a curiosity, a right-place and right-time bruiser who was selling what fight fans were buying.

Or maybe Charles Bronson, a bare-knuckle ringer in Hard Times, had it right: "Hey, there's no reason about it. Just money."

For comments, email [email protected]

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Dana White, Forrest Griffin take CNN on tour of new UFC headquarters

  • 27 days ago
  • 50 views

While the full campus isn’t quite open just yet, UFC employees recently made the move into the company’s impressive new headquarters in Las Vegas, and CNN cameras were invited in for a sneak peek of read news >>

Dana White Couldn't Be a Bigger Believer in New UFC Owner | MMAWeekly.com

  • 28 days ago
  • 39 views

When UFC former owners sold the fight promotion in July 2016 for $4.2 billion to WME–IMG, the promotion's longtime president, Dana White, was distraught. read news >>

Dana White Not Sure If Nick and Nate Diaz Will Ever Fight Again | MMAWeekly.com

  • 25 days ago
  • 51 views

UFC president Dana White said that he's not sure if we'll ever see the Diaz Brothers, Nate and Nick, ever fight again. read news >>

Despite Anderson Silva's Threats, Dana White Says UFC Title Fight Won't Happen | MMAWeekly.com

  • 23 days ago
  • 9 views

Despite Anderson Silva's threats, UFC president Dana White declared there would be no interim title fight for The Spider. read news >>

Dana White: Anderson Silva Should Probably Just Retire | MMAWeekly.com

  • 23 days ago
  • 13 views

With Anderson Silva recently threatening retirement, UFC president Dana White said that the former champ probably should just go ahead and do it. read news >>

Dana White says UFC women's flyweight division not finalized, despite announcement

  • 26 days ago
  • 11 views

Hours after the announcement, UFC President Dana White said nothing is official regarding a new women’s 125-pound weight class.Filed under: Featured, News, UFC read news >>

Nate Diaz Could Be Done Fighting in UFC, Dana White Says

  • 26 days ago
  • 124 views

UFC President Dana White isn't sure if Nate Diaz will ever fight again. "If they want to fight next week or if they never want to fight again, that's up to them," he said when talking about Diaz and read news >>

UFC Announces Huge Summer Kickoff Press Conference | MMAWeekly.com

  • 24 days ago
  • 12 views

Dana White will host a Summer Kickoff press conference with some of the athletes from UFC 212 through UFC 214. read news >>

Dana White: Jon Jones Could Be Setting Records and Fighting at Heavyweight | MMAWeekly.com

  • 21 days ago
  • 48 views

UFC president Dana White says that if he could have stayed out of trouble, Jon Jones would be a record-setting champion and probably fighting heavyweights. read news >>

Dana White Confirms TUF 26 Will Crown Women’s Flyweight Champion | MMAWeekly.com

  • 20 days ago
  • 10 views

UFC president Dana White on Tuesday confirmed that the next season of The Ultimate Fighter will launch the women's flyweight division and crown a champion. read news >>