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The One Reason to Watch the TUF 10 Finale

kimboWho are we kidding? The biggest fight on Saturday’s Ultimate Fighter Finale isn’t the main event between up-and-comer Jon Jones and TUF vet Matt Hamill. Nor is it the series’ championship bout between Roy Nelson and ex-NFL player Brendan Schaub.

It’s the months-in-the-making, bottom-of-the-card clash between Houston Alexander and Kimbo Slice. And no disrespect to Alexander, but they could stick a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle in the cage with Slice and it would still be the primary reason to tune in.

Slice is one of the biggest names in MMA, a former strip club bouncer, Miami porn kingpin bodyguard and bareknuckle backyard brawler who rose to Youtube stardom knocking guys named Big Mac and Afro Puff senseless. The just-completed tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter was built and promoted entirely around the signing of Slice – they actually scrapped the middleweight and light heavyweight plans for the season at the eleventh hour, sending a lot of fighters home empty-handed – and it became the highest rated in the show’s history. The episode in which he fought – and lost decisively to the pot-bellied Kung Fu Panda called Roy Nelson – drew close to seven million viewers, making it the highest-rated show in Spike TV history by more than three million viewers.

So at a time when it feels like somebody’s using UFC heavyweight fighters as voodoo dolls, Slice’s stock is at an all-time high. He’s a bankable name at a time when the UFC is short-changed in that department thanks to illnesses and injuries. How ironic considering that a year ago, when Slice got knocked out in 14 seconds by a pink-haired punk 30 pounds lighter than him at an EliteXC event, UFC president Dana White called him an undisciplined street thug with no business being a professional fighter and now White’s relying on Slice to bring in business.

In fact, it didn’t much matter how Slice performed during TUF 10. There was no way that White was going to squander an opportunity to attract new fans to the UFC on Slice’s shouders. As a result, weekly fights aside, much of each episode was spent either teasing Slice’s possible return to the cage or taming the very same gold-toothed, gun-toting street thug image that White once mocked and ridiculed.

Remarkably, Slice was up to the challenge. He showed a lot of depth for a man who can punch out a small horse. He came across as a sensitive and spiritual family man who spouted fortune cookie philosophy (“the enemy is the inner me”) and Yogi Berra-style malapropisms (upon realizing he’d been losing weight, he noted, “I haven’t developed a good eating résumé”). More than that, he was portrayed as an up-by-his-bootstraps entrepreneur whose capital is that rare willingness to stand and trade brain-damaging blows with another human being, a Rocky for the Tapout crowd who was humble enough to recognize he still has a lot to learn about being a professional cagefighter (like what to do when he finds himself flat on his back). As Demico Rogers, one of Slice’s Ultimate Fighter housemates, described him, “he’s a giant, scary cage-fighting teddy bear.”

And that’s the sort of character the UFC needs right now while it waits for Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Gabriel Gonzaga and the rest of the heavyweight roster to heal up. Sure, Slice will probably never challenge for a UFC belt. He’s 35 and has a very limited skill set. But if he can get a win or two under his belt, thus giving him at least a little credibility as a UFC fighter, the promotion can use his name to create high-profile fights. Kimbo Slice versus Croation headhunter Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, whose career is in a bit of a skid, for example.

Of course, White probably has bigger things in mind. Slice’s bout with Alexander is being contested at a catchweight of 215 pounds, a strong indication that Slice will at some point make the transition from heavyweight down to the 205-pound class. This opens the door for fights with other big-name draws with little championship potential. You can already see the wheels spinning in Dana White’s head as he imagines pitting Slice against Randy Couture or Chuck Liddell.

Slice may not be the kind of fighter MMA purists enjoy watching – no skill, all kill – but every time he steps in the cage there’s Knockout of the Night potential. Somebody’s going out on a stretcher, and that’s something even the most casual fight fan will stop to watch, like rubbernecking a roadside accident.

20 COMMENTS
  • Dufresne says:

    Barrett Hooper: “The episode in which he fought – and lost decisively to the pot-bellied Kung Fu Panda called Roy Nelson”

    LMAO! That is the best nickname for Roy I’ve ever heard. I don’t think I’m going to be able to call him anything else from now on.

    I like the idea of Kimbo v Chuck or maybe even Cro Cop, but Randy would be a terrible matchup for him. Don’t get me wrong, he would have no chance against either Chuck or Cro Cop, but at least those fights would stay standing so that you could think that Kimbo had a shot.

  • elkymbo says:

    I love Kimbo but Mirko would kick the top of his bald noggin off.

  • BigDave says:

    Hey Hooper Please not again. Your articles bordering on Huh, to just plain what the hell are talking about.

    Kimbo is in no way good for the sport that is a given fact. He has said on numerous occasions that he feels no need to learn wrestling or jitz, so where would you get the idea he is trying to improve anything. Secondly even trying to compare Kimbos Grasp of the english language to a Yogiism is assinine. Yogi Berra Said things like “It’s like Deja Vu all over again!” and named his book “When you come to a fork in the road, Take it” which are wity and show a bit of humor. If Kimbo ever said a full sentence that was correct it was by mistake. A rocky for the Tapout crowd? Again Huh? Rocky was the underdog that everyone counted out and didnt give a chance but in the end defied all odds to comeback and pull out the win with heart and determination. Kimbo pulls guns on guys at gyms, gets KO’ed by a guy 30lbs lighter that had a couple hour notice, and got beat in the head by a guy you call a “Pot bellied Kung Fu Panda”, ya I see the comparison there. The last thing I want to know is on what planet at anytime ever would Dana White try to put Kimbo in the ring with a couture or Liddel, These guys are Hall of Fame fighters, Kimbo is a side show at the very best. Kimbo is set to get destroyed tonight by a journeymen Houston Alexander and that will be that. Kimbo is like a boy band, all the people love them for about as long as it takes for one to go to rehab and the band to break up then they become the butt of jokes for years.

  • elkymbo says:

    And how funny is the five oz poll, Kimbo by submission, what a classic.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Kimbo Slice seems like a nice enough dude but he sux at the sport that he is now famous in. This is a phenomenon I can’t get my head around. This would not happen in any other sport. Perhaps they should have a team in the NFL that doesn’t deserve to be there but gosh darn it they are just so fun to watch, have gold teeth and a funny beards and when they played some street bums on you tube they won. If you just want to see 2 dudes fighting hang out in town until the night clubs close if you want to watch the sport of MMAs finest compete you wont see Kimbo there ever. I’m sorry but the whole phenomenon of shitty fighters being such big draw cards is tainting and degrading the sport in my opinion. It is just 2 dudes fighting. I mean at least Hong Man Choi, and Eric Esch have some cred. I wish this guy would go away (along with those that buy PPVs for him) and leave the sport of MMA for real MMA fighters and fans of elite martial artists.

  • David Andrest says:

    elkymbo: And how funny is the five oz poll, Kimbo by submission, what a classic.

    Well, I couldn’t very well leave it off the list. @% of the voting audience wouldn’t have had a choice they were happy with.

  • Please. The real reason to watch this show and there are a lot but, as far as watching REAL MMA talent , the only real reason is to watch Franky Edgar and Matt Veach. Franky is a guy that is so good at striking and on the ground. There may be fights on the card that will be more explosive but as a technical battle goes it doesn’t get any better than Franky. He really owned Sherk.

    Veach is no joke either. This kid can scrap. Should be one hell of very technical fight.

    The entire card will be fun to watch.. man I can wait.

  • thunder okami says:

    Actually as an mma fan, i’m more interested in Jones vs. Hamill.

  • xtreme_machine says:

    This is the reason I come to 5nz. Great well written intelligent articles.

  • danw84 says:

    Haha wow, BigDave, calm down man! Kimbo is in no way bad for the sport. If someone is bad for the sport, it’s Dana White who brought him into the UFC. Kimbo is a guy that is making the most of a situation that is being HANDED to him, not one he asked for or demanded. I mean come on, look at him through this season of TUF, for you to say he has no interest in learning BJJ or wrestling is just wrong. He tried to learn and absorb as much as he could. Even after losing he still busted his ass and trained as much as he could. From the little that we get to see about him, I don’t think he’s the guy that Bas Ruten wasn’t able to train any more. I think that KO actually woke him up a bit if anything. He had those attitudes when he thought he didn’t need anything but punching power.

    Fair enough that you clearly don’t like the guy, I don’t like plenty of fighters myself, but you can’t blame him for making the most of a situation that he had almost nothing to do with developing. I think you’re letting your dislike of him cloud your ability to see that some of the stuff he said truly had some sense behind it. That whole “the enemy is the inner me” thing was pretty well said, and assuming it wasn’t completely scripted, actually had a pretty good message.

    I like Kimbo Slice. I have NO idea why I like him, but I do. There’s a draw to him that I can’t put a finger on. The first time I ever saw him fight was in Elite XC, so it’s not like I followed his street fighting days. Maybe I like the hype? Who knows. But I like watching the guy fight, and if it takes beating a Houston Alexander than maybe 3 or 4 people on the planet care about to keep Kimbo in the UFC (or anywhere, I don’t care) fighting, then I hope he gets the win.

  • ndizzle says:

    i hope kimbo is realizing what it takes to be a mixed martial artist.if i was going to the gym or dojo evryday busting my ass and a backyard brawler gets a shot it would be a slap in the face.

    its not kimbo fault tho

    best of luck to all the fighters

  • danw84 says:

    Well said ndizzle, totally agreed. I see how people can get mad at Kimbo, but it isn’t his fault.

  • Dr.Stoppage says:

    “Barrett lives in Toronto, where he is a National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, and MMA is still remains unsanctioned. ”

    Although Barrett lives in Toronto,please don’t consider his opinion any sort of representation of other Canadian MMA fans,especially those in Ontario where MMA remains unsanctioned.
    Ideally Barrett will do something constructive with his “National Magazine Award-nominated journalism skills” like help work towards bringing MMA to Toronto,where the Leafs SUCK,the Argos SUCK,the Blue Jays SUCK, the FC SUCK, the Raptors SUCK and the Rock are okay.
    It seems like this is an ideal market for an ENTERTAINING sport.

    By the way “Rocky” Beat Kimbo,according to Gus Johnson of CBS sports.

  • GassedOut says:

    I too am drawn to Kimbo inexplicably. I love his humility and personality displayed on the show. I think he’s doing his best to deal with something he finds himself in the middle of that wasn’t entirely his doing, and you know how everyone loves the underdog.

    Having said that, I like Houston Alexander as well. Anyone that gives up a kidney to save a kid has immediate respect from me. And I pick Houston Alexander by 30-second KO to kick the Kimbo’s ass.

  • danw84 says:

    Dr.Stoppage: “Barrett lives in Toronto, where he is a National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, andMMA is still remains unsanctioned. ”Although Barrett lives in Toronto,please don’t consider his opinion any sort of representation of otherCanadian MMA fans,especially those in Ontario where MMA remains unsanctioned.
    Ideally Barrett will do something constructive with his “National Magazine Award-nominated journalism skills” like help work towards bringing MMA to Toronto,where the Leafs SUCK,the Argos SUCK,the Blue Jays SUCK, the FC SUCK, the Raptors SUCK and the Rock are okay.
    It seems like this is an ideal market for an ENTERTAINING sport.By the way “Rocky” Beat Kimbo,according to Gus Johnson of CBS sports.

    I’m a Canadian MMA fan as well, so everyone please don’t think that Dr. Stoppage is any sort of representation of us either. Although I agree that your garbage Leafs definitely suck.

  • fetussandwich says:

    danw84:
    I’m a Canadian MMA fan as well, so everyone please don’t think that Dr. Stoppage is any sort of representation of us either. Although I agree that your garbage Leafs definitely suck.

    After reading his response, I can only hope that somewhere in Canada, more people think like him.

  • Angry Mike says:

    “Kung Fu Panda?” Brilliant, dude, brilliant. Salud!

  • Guthookd says:

    Well, I’m excited about this fight. If it gets into a second round I’ll be stoked! Perfect match up IMO. Kimbo has been training with ATT so you never know…maybe he will throw the dice with Houston’s never seen ground game.

    A future match with Cro Cop would be excellent as well. I know people will hate but I’d pick Kimbo in that fight.

  • Vogairian says:

    What I don’t get is the hypocrisy of some of the MMA “purists”. The same guys who worship at the throne of PRIDE and recall how great it was or the guys who claim Strikeforce is the be all, end all. PRIDE was full of freak show fighters who had no business in the ring and Strikeforce is promoting a fight with 47 year old Herschel Walker who’ll be having his first fight, UFC brings in a guy like Kimbo and suddenly the sky is falling and it’s time to picket in front of Zuffa headquarters. In the end people like to watch Kimbo and enjoy his story, the guy was humble enough to actually be on TUF (even if he was given a few things the other guys weren’t.).

    I say let him have his fight or two on some SPIKE shows and be done with it. In the end It’s a win/win. Kimbo gets to do something that he enjoys, the guy is going to bring ratings which also get people to see guys like Bones and Edgar show off what they can do, UFC makes money, and we get to see FREE mma.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    “the guy was humble enough to actually be on TUF”

    Yeah and he lost his first fight. He was also forced to by White because (I would say) White did not want to seem like an hypocrite for letting a guy who he said was no good straight into the UFC.

    Yes Pride had freak show fighters and they sucked too. Now the UFC does and that sux. Simple. Just because Pride did it does not mean the UFC can with impunity. What your argument is I don’t know.

    If you are implying to me that I think Strikeforce is the be all and end all. I’ve never said that and it is just your way of making stuff up to try and validate your argument. Why you need to is obvious, you very rarely have one. It is rich coming from you ,most of what you say is based on the UFC being the be all. I have been trying to say no MMA org is the be all and that co promotion and free fighters is the way to go, Strike force is working with Sengoku, Dream, M1 and it looks like others too and that is why I want them to succeed. I would try and talk s l o w e r for you but it wont make any difference. Yes people like to watch shitty fighters fight but not for there skill and technique but because it is 2 dudes swinging. If you want to watch 2 dudes fighting f*ck off and do it somewhere else and leave elite MMA to elite MMA fighters. I don’t care if you watch it, go ahead just don’t ruin the sport of MMA and make it into a circus. I am a MMA fan not a purist I like watching elite MMA on TV ya know like every other sport on TV! the elite level. But if you want it to degenerate and sell out you are part of the problem and I hope you lose interest.
    Go Kimbo…GO AWAY!.

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