By E. Spencer Kyte
With Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter coming to a close tonight in Las Vegas, it's time to begin preparing for Season 10, something I was far from looking forward to until one man was announced as a participant: Kimbo Slice.
The man born Kevin Ferguson is a walking MMA sideshow attraction and let's be honest, we all love sideshow attractions. Just like the car crash you can't turn away from, the spectacle that is Kimbo Slice is something we're all drawn to, at least a little.
How could you not be? From porn company bodyguard to Internet street brawler to the unfortunate poster boy for MMA on network TV, Slice's rise to prominence is everything that the 21st century is about and now he's getting an even bigger stage to perform on.
What really strikes me about Kimbo, or more precisely the reactions people have to Kimbo, is how many people continue to label him as a joke; a gimmick with no talent and no business being in the sport, yet alone on The Ultimate Fighter.
I'm certainly not the biggest Kimbo Slice fan in the world, as I thought his big push with EliteXC was horrible for the sport, but I'm also not close-minded enough to not give the man his due.
Dana White laid out the invitation and Kimbo accepted it and that alone takes guts. How many people do you know that would put themselves in a position where they would allow all of their detractors and doubters to witness their potential failure, not to mention the millions of other viewers who will be tuning in as well?
Beyond that, it's not as if Kimbo has been back on the street, fighting guys in parking lots and whatever over the last few years. The guy has been training, including spending a great deal of time working with Bas Rutten and Randy Khatami. Last I checked, Bas Rutten was a pretty damn good fighter and could surely impart some wisdom on a blank slate like Slice.
Now, I'm not saying the guy is a highly-skilled MMA practitioner by any stretch, but he's about the same green-ness level as some of the guys we see on the show from season to season and it never hurts to have big, heavy hands either.
Here is where I piss you off.
Anyone who wants to ramble on about his 14 second loss to Seth Petruzelli, remember this: Georges St-Pierre got his ass handed to him by Matt Serra once too and GSP is one of the Top 5 fighters on the planet.
Shit happens and it can happen to anyone. One loss, regardless of speed, skill level of your opponent or how many people lost their jobs because of it doesn't change that it's only one loss. No one - save for Lyoto Machida - stays undefeated.
Besides, Kimbo demolished Ray Mercer in his first trip into the cage and we all saw what Ray Mercer did to Tim Sylvia last week, didn't we? Doesn't that mean Kimbo would actually kill Sylvia in a fight?
Of course it doesn't, but hopefully you know what I'm trying to say.
Dislike him all you want.
Personally, I'm a bigger fan of Kimbo Slice today than I was during his rise to fame and he's the one I'll be cheering for when Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter kicks off later this year.
June 20, 2009
By E. Spencer Kyte