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Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson could prove to be very educational

There has been much said, post-fight, about EliteXC: Primetime’s main event between Kimbo Slice and James Thompson. The majority of which surrounds fight-fixing conspiracies, premature stoppages, phantom taps, why Kimbo will never be a top 10 heavyweight and how terrible it was that that fight was the main event on MMA’s first network card.

Much of the criticism levelled at the main attraction pre-fight was that Kimbo Slice was undeserving of the role of ambassador for mainstream mixed martial arts because of his lack of experience and his backyard brawling background and that the fight would be just be an early first round knockout and would be more about showcasing Slice than it was MMA.

A quick first round knockout wasn’t what we saw on Saturday night though and I for one am glad that I got to see 10 minutes and 38 seconds of back and forth MMA action instead. Granted, the fight wasn’t filled with the cleanest of exchanges and grappling transitions but in my opinion it was a lot better viewing than the much predicted alternative.

If Slice/Thompson went as everyone expected it to go then MMA’s first foray into the world of network television would of come across to the novice viewer as just sloppy kickboxing with the occasional tackle.

The hardest part, I think, of introducing MMA to the uneducated public is getting the public to understand the intricacies of the ground game. If MMA is going to have any sort of staying power or longevity as a mainstream sport it needs an educated fan base. You can only dish up less than technical stand-up war after stand-up war for so long until the product becomes stale and in my opinion what gives MMA its lure is the contrast between the intensity and power of the stand up and the technical and tactical battle of the ground. Surprisingly, Kimbo/Thompson probably ended up helping the education of the newer audience in the details of the ground more so than any other possible fight could.

Like it or not, the overwhelming majority of people that tuned in yesterday that haven’t watched an MMA event most likely did so in order to watch Kimbo Slice. Now if you had only very limited knowledge about MMA beforehand and were only tuning in to watch Kimbo Slice you would be very eager and interested to learn what was going on when Thompson was on top of Kimbo. The commentators did a good job of explaining what Kimbo needed to do in order to get out of the bad situations he found himself in and what James Thompson was trying to do. For an MMA newcomer and Kimbo fan that would resonate more deeply than it would if it were two BJJ blackbelts rolling in the main event.

With any luck that fight planted seeds in the minds of many newcomers so that the next time they stumble upon an event they will be able to see and recognise those positions and will be able to get more insight and enjoyment out of that fight/event.

24 COMMENTS
  • jaydog says:

    This fight was exactly what Kimbo needed: loads of power shots to the head of an unsympathetic goliath and having his boundaries pushed in terms of cardio and ground game. Hardcore fans, you wanted to see him in these situations and he did pretty well (albeit, against a mediocre opponent). Sure, it was sloppy and there were some questionable moments. Nonetheless, Kimbo’s appeal persists and I have no doubt that last night’s fight made him technically stronger. From here on out, the question will be “yeah, but how would he do against so and so,” instead of the usual complains about his one-dimensional style. And the answer was supplied by Kimbo, himself, saying “I’ve got a long way to go.”

  • Wu Tang says:

    There were two fights in the prilims which was good. The crowds reaction, i was in the press media section, was in awe at the disply of their ethic in MMA. Too bad the public, majority, will not be able to see the prelims. Because if they were to, then they will see this as an art form, rather than just aboxing war with 6 ounces of protection.

  • jaydog says:

    Isn’t that when Kimbo gave the thumbs up to the ref that he was okay? Of course, there was that mysterious missing moment when the camera switches to a view from 100 yards away. So, anyhow, it may have been Oswald, Mergliotta, and an unknown person on the grassy knoll, but I’m pretty satisfied with Kimbo as the obvious victor of the slugfest and the marginal loser of the grappling. What can I say, ignorance is bliss.

  • bjjdenver says:

    PooPoo, you are becoming very annoying, lol.

  • Ark says:

    I don’t see what he gained by exposing his weaknesses: lack of cardio, no ground skills, lack of KO power, and general sloppiness.

    This was a glass-jawed opponent he was supposed to KO inside of one minute, and you’re talking like he passed some kind of “test” with flying colors.

    What do you want to bet that A) Kimbo’s next opponent will have a worse record than Thompson, or B) if not, he’s losing the next fight.

  • Ian says:

    Kimbo didn’t tap.

    I guess on a grainy youtube video you might think that. But in High Def, it was clearly a thumbs up, and the announcers said that he shouted “I’m o.k.” along with that.

    Anyway, Kimbo was clearly gassed and I’m guessing a lot of that was just pure nerves at a huge venue. Thompson was clearly game for the fight and wasn’t going to roll over.

    Let the lamentation begin, however. The UFC is just a superior product from top to bottom, and it’s a shame it wasn’t them bringing MMA to network television.

    As an aside, Kimbo has local radio talking here in Philly. The oldest sports talk show in the nation (WIP 610) has been devoting most of the morning to throwing out a complete cavalcade of misinformation. Hugh Douglas and Rob Cherry are looking into, “who’s the champion of MMA” and Hugh is pretty sure after a quick internet search that it’s Jens Pulver.

    Yeah.

  • JollyDV says:

    Ark, you wrote:

    I don’t see what he gained by exposing his weaknesses: lack of cardio, no ground skills, lack of KO power, and general sloppiness.

    Every fighter learns something from every fight, win or lose. So what he gained was:experience,experience,experience. The guy has only had 3 professional MMA fights. He is not gonna walk in the octagon and be a seasoned fighter. That is unrealistic.

    Sam,
    I thought that was a great article with an informative view that I and many others overlooked. Thanks.

  • mike wolfe says:

    Kimbo’s legs from the knee down looked pretty scrawny to me. I kept waiting for Thompson to give one of them some serious kicks. I don’t think Kimbo could absorb that kind of attack for very long, and then all that punching power would just fade away.

  • You guys are nuts. Kimbo did not tap.
    His legs are kinda thin.

    I will fight Kimbo sign me up!

  • jaydog says:

    Kimbo DID pass a test last night and every hardcore fan wanted to see him tested. Obviously, it wasn’t a very hard test, and Kimbo came up short in a few crucial areas, but in the balance, he relied on his fists and knees and prevailed. The Thompson fight wasn’t a performance to silence the critics, but it certainly showed “the haters” that Kimbo is working at his game and making progress. Unfortunately, he’ll probably need more low-level practice before he can ever take on a contender. We’ll see if his story is potent enough to last through more bouts like this one.

  • Jay says:

    Forget about the conspiracy theories because the facts speak for themselves. Elite XC really dropped the ball last night. The evidence speaks for itself.

    1. The dancing girls destroyed the credibility of the event from the very beginning. The bloggers on this site have done a good job of pointing this out but it needs to be said again. MMA is good enough to sell itself. Promoters don’t need to degrade women in an attempt to promote a sport that is booming in popularity on its own.

    2. The ring entrances were very Monday Nitro-ish. All we needed was Phil Baroni to ride in on a motorcycle and hit the ref in the head with a chair. I understand that Baroni has done that kind of stuff in every promotion he has been in but it goes beyond him. The fighters should come in with their crew at the same time and Busta Rhymes should buy a ticket and stay in his seat.

    3. I think that the powers that be may have been a little too politically correct. Regardless of whether we subscribe to any conspiracy theories the fact still remains that the fight stoppages were inconsistent at best. It seems as though some executive with Elite XC or CBS wanted to keep things from getting too uncomfortable for the casual viewer. This cautious approach really put a damper on the whole event.

    4. The Smith-Lawler fight. This really had the potential to redeem the whole night until the NJSAC went coo coo for coco puffs about Scott Smith’s eye and then threw him under the bus in the post fight interview. If the guy gets five minutes who cares if he can see or not in the first minute? We’ve all been poked in the eye and we know that it just takes time (closer to five minutes than the one that the NJSAC allowed).

    5. The train wreck that is Kimbo. I tuned in to watch him for the same reason that I slow down to see an accident on the side of the road. This fight was one or two notches above the celebrity boxing events Fox ran a few years ago. Kimbo confirmed what everyone thought; he’s a great striker, tough fighter and below average mixed-martial artist. Yet, this brawler is what is keeping Elite XC going. His performance last night was a learning experience for the fans. What it taught us was that there is a tremendous difference between promotions like Elite XC and the UFC.

    In conclusion, last nights event did more harm than good for mixed-martial arts. Elite XC had its time to shine but much like A-Rod in the post season, swung and missed. I’m sure that Dana White was very pleased with what he saw last night and that Tito is giving second thoughts to the idea of leaving the UFC for an “up and coming promotion” like Elite XC.

  • JollyDV says:

    Jay,
    I am with you up until #5. I wouldn’t call Kimbo a train wreck. He is just a man trying to make a living and trying to live large.I actually logged off the 5oz. chat room just before he fought and didn’t see it. I too slow down to see the occasional accident, just not last night. By the time the main event was coming up, I had gotten so cynical and disgusted with the how promotion that I had to walk away.

    You are so right in that there is a TREMENDOUS difference between the UFC and EliteCX and if the line was blurred prior to last nights show, it is no longer. They are not even comparable. It is like apples and oranges.

    I would have agreed with your conclusion until reading the piece by Sam. I haven’t, but has anyone talked to anyone that is new to watching MMA and got their views on lasts nights card? If so please share. I would be interested in knowing what impression it left on them.

  • jaydog says:

    Why don’t we hold off until we have the ratings and the media firestorm and see what the next CBS event looks like before we jump to conclusions about “good for the sport.”

    BTW, a doctor stoppage shows the hysterical critics that safety is paramount. So, there’s an upside to inconsistent stoppages. Same with the exploding ear. The producers were probably overly cautious considering the scrutiny that comes with network TV. It was an exciting night for the casual fan. Life goes on.

  • Torgo says:

    Wow

    This is one of the most valiant efforts to find a silver lining that I have ever seen

    Side note

    A lot of people are talking about the dancing girls. I agree that embody the trashiness of EXC, but not for the same reason everyone else seems to think. I do not mind scantily clad women shaking it. However, their timing and synchronization was AWFUL. They seem to invite comparisons to the nitro girls but I seem to remember the nitro girls being better dancers.

  • Grape Knee High says:

    The only thing I learned from watching EliteXC is that you don’t have to defend yourself on the ground if you have the ref in your back pocket. And that EliteXC really did implement the 15 second standup rule, but only for Kimbo.

  • JollyDV says:

    Torgo-
    You are too funny! Maybe EliteXC can take some of their winnings and hire a dance coach for the girls!!

  • darkmetal says:

    Wow, some people are really reaching in regards to Kimbo Slice here.

    Consider:

    1. Kimbo was the headliner, nobody is expecting him to be in the low learning stage of his career. Bas Rutten pretty much said the guy was amazing for an amateur. No, he is just an amateur.

    2. Kimbo lost by “Standing KO of an opponent who was still fighting” Please someone tell me the last time you have seen that in the UFC…. They can say it was about Thompson’s ear all they want, but if it was, wouldn’t they have simply halted the fight and asked the Dr if it was ok for him to continue?

    3. Kimbo got to where he is via hype, promotion, and overexaggeration of teenage youtube boys. This is a slap in the face of all the fighters who are out there fighting in small shows for pitiful purses. Knocking out untrained fighters in alleys is something that does not mean you are a MMA fighter, it means you are a thug. Kimbo has been gifted with being anywhere on TV period.

  • jaydog says:

    I’m not the only one trying to reserve judgment for the time being. From MMAPayout:

    “Kimbo did get physically dominated in the fight but he didn’t get beat up, if that makes any sense…. there is a difference. The online MMA community is up in arms over this fight but it is up in the air how casual fans saw it. EliteXC may need to shuffle him down the card for the time being.”

    This event (and the ratings) are an indicator of a MMA’s growth. It may not grow in the direction that hardcore fans would like, and sleazy wannabe pimps in jogging suits and Lex Luther impersonators may be calling the shots, but more and more people are taking note of the fighters one way or another. Personally, I’m trying to enjoy what there is to enjoy. Pointing out that Kimbo is a contrived product is lazy self-congratulatory elitism. But, I love yall anyhow.

  • Kogepan says:

    I don’t see why people talk up Lesnar while at the same time put down Kimbo. Both are ‘draws’ because of their notority from outside the MMA world.

    UFC/EliteXC both promoted cards that featured guys with 1 or 2 MMA fights as the feature bout. At least Kimbo lasted more than 90 seconds in his fight.

    Obviously Kimbo needs alot more experience in the ring, he’s just a really famous guy with 3 MMA fights under his belt.

  • Winordie says:

    Kimbo would not have lasted the 90 seconds that Lesnar did against Frank Mir.

    For the record, though, i didn’t think Lesnar should’ve been a headliner either, but at least he had the HS/University wrestling experience.

  • Demon6.0 says:

    I take my wife as a barometer to judge particularly your last statement and the success of Elite XC’s event. She knows next to nothing about MMA or martial arts in general. Yet, she was completely engrossed in every one of the bouts at UFC 84 – even Ortiz VS Machida – but when I showed her the Kimbo Slice fight, she thought it was a joke, bordering on something they’d do in the WWE.

    People can bash Dana White and the UFC as much as they want, but I can guarantee you that no one in Zuffa would be caught dead putting on the crock of horseshit that Elite XC did on Saturday night, and I honestly think that you give newcomers too little credit. Sure there will be the beer swilling, numskull crowd but there will also be a lot of people who got their first taste of MMA on Saturday night and probably got the worst possible first impression of the sport.

  • Jean Paul says:

    I’ve been watching MMA events for a long time and after last fight of Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson live on CBS, it’s very clear – eventhough that I am a great fan of Kimbo and love the way we throw punches against his opponents – that if you paid a little of attention on what happen in this fight certainly after the referee stoppage you would be asking yourself:
    What a f**k did happen??? Was the referee stoppage fair?
    Was it, maybe, just a maneuver to help Kimbo and specially allowing CBS and the event organizers in making MMA events more and more popular on TV no matter what they need to do in order to make their millions?!
    In my opinion, you do not need to be a Mix Martial Arts Specialist to know that the decision/result of this fight, had clearly a political context in order to support and preserve all the media/organizers efforts and investments that were done to promote this MMA event on an open tv channel, using Kimbo Slice as the event anchor.
    I love the show, but let’s be real…did Kimbo won or got his ass kicked?
    Did he get a “little help” of the referee?
    You tell me.

  • Jean Paul says:

    I’ve been watching MMA events for a long time and after last fight of Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson live on CBS, it’s very clear – eventhough that I am a great fan of Kimbo and love the way we throw punches against his opponents – that if you paid a little of attention on what happened in this fight, certainly, after the referee stoppage you would be asking yourself:
    What a f**k did happen??? Was the referee stoppage fair?
    Was it…maybe…just a maneuver to help Kimbo, what also would allow CBS and the event organizers to make MMA events more and more popular on TV, no matter what they need to do in order to keep making their millions?!
    In my opinion, you do not need to be a Mix Martial Arts Specialist to know that the decision/result of this fight, had clearly a political context in order to support and preserve all the media/organizers efforts and investments that were done to promote this MMA event on an open tv channel, using Kimbo Slice as the event anchor.
    I love the show, but let’s be real…did Kimbo Slice really knocked out James Thompson or after getting his ass kicked by Thompson he got a “little help” from the referee?
    You tell me.

  • Marcusrab says:

    Hmm.. Im reading alot of fanfare for Kimbo slice on this “fight”.. Now.. first off.. how many times have you *legitimately* seen a fight stopped while a fighter was on his feet after no knockdowns, and no close calls.. James Thompson.. though wobbled, was never saved by the bell, close to submission or unable to defend himself.. he had a cauliflower ear, that slightly popped.. and, if you look closely.. it didn’t even pop, it was so bulbous that it when hit ripped the bottom of the earlobe and produced blood.. shady premature stoppage? Without a doubt.

    Ive watched every UFC from the beginning, when Royce Gracie had to fight a 500 pound monster to win the tournament, when you had to fight 2.. 3.. 4 times a night to win a $50,000 prize.. Kimbo is being paid 6 figures for stepping in a ring with what is obviously a setup fight.. Kimbo is a guy who CBS banked “their” new sports franchise on.. now.. if Kimbo slice loses.. then what? Their Goliath has fallen and they have to then develop, like UFC has, new talent that is marketable.

    Kimbo slice won that fight not because he has raw talent, but because the opponent he went up again was the perfect combination of size and reputation, you cant say he was a newbie, because he had fought and won overseas, though he came off a devastating knockout from a smaller less powerful opponent…

    And FYI.. his previous opponent, Tank Abbot.. used to do the same thing to people that he is currentley doing.. the UFC would put him in there with lambs so he could slaughter them.. but.. if anyone remembers.. when they put him in there with someone with with a decent amount of skill.. Pedro Rizzo.. Tank all but quit.. this is what happens.. you hype a guy by placing fall guys in their way but when they are matched with their equal.. yea.. not so much luck.

    Before you start flaming that im some UFC fanboy or whatever, realize I couldn’t care whooooo is hosting the fight.. just so it is made fair and the hype that subsequently surrounds it is tell-tale to the actual event.. which what im seeing, has not been.. there is nothing “sporty” about the way this event ended.. the referee might has well been Leslie Moonves.. cause obviously Kimbo *had* to win.. and when a marginal opportunity to stop a fight that was actually beginning to look winnable for James Thompson.. the ref stepped in.. like I said.. just shady.

    Marcus

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