Ken Shamrock (26-13-2 MMA) vs. Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson (3-0-0 MMA)
The evolution from street brawler to MMA professional continues on Saturday night October 4th when Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson takes on another slightly past his prime legend in Ken Shamrock. Although Shamrock has only won twice since the millennium, he will attempt to halt the hype train that is Kimbo Slice. Kimbo can take one small step closer to legitimacy with a win over Shamrock, although it is apparent from the Shamrock matchup that he is in no rush to get there.
Kimbo Slice is a modern rags-to-riches story as he embarks on another chapter of his professional MMA career. As you most likely already know, Kimbo got his start fighting for money on the streets. The highest bidder would get a shot at his unofficial “Street Certified” title. Where Kimbo separated himself from the other wannabe tough guys is in self promotion. Not only did Kimbo beat you up, but then he posted his results on Youtube. It was a minor stroke of genius and the start of something big. Word spread of the Miami internet phenom, and with it his popularity grew. Even after suffering his first loss to Boston Police officer Sean Gannon, his popularity only continued to soar higher. He had to make the next logical step to the professional cage. The fan base was there and in stepped a willing promoter in the form of EliteXC.
After opening with a 19 second demolition of professional door mat Bo Cantrell, he progressed to his first MMA legend in Tank Abbott. Even after a 43 second beat down of the former king of Huntington Beach, he still received no modicum of respect. Tank was old and over the hill, no way Kimbo was that good. With fans clamoring for a legitimate opponent, Kimbo’s trainer Bas Rutten reminded everyone that it was only his third professional fight and he would not give into pressure to place his protégé in a bad situation. With that proclamation entered journeyman fighter James Thompson. Thompson was not the most talented fighter in the world, but he presented an experienced fighter very capable of beating Kimbo. The MMA media didn’t see it that way, and assumed Kimbo would roll over Thompson. When Kimbo looked less than impressive in a third round TKO win over Thompson, again it wasn’t that Kimbo was improving but rather that Thompson was washed up and not worthy of the stature of the fight. In his everlasting quest for respect, the next hurdle propped in front of him by EliteXC and Rutten is 44 year old Ken Shamrock.
For only his forth professional fight Kimbo shows excellent potential in a few areas. The most obvious are his standup skills. He is a natural gifted athlete who shows rare agility and very good footwork for someone with limited formal boxing training. Kimbo’s sheer knockout power is undeniable, and also seems to be in proportion with his cement chin. Granted he has not faced a top flight striker at this level, but shaking off a strong right hand from Tank is no mean feat no matter what his age. Kimbo’s heart and determination can not and should not be questioned as he has stood up to the pressure of his position with undeniable dignity. Many questions still remain with Kimbo’s game, mainly his grappling and his conditioning. Fortunately for him Shamrock will most likely not be able to test the latter. One thing is for certain, if Kimbo allows himself to be taken to the floor his grappling will be tested by one of the best in the world. Will Kimbo be able to react fast enough to defend against Shamrock’s submissions on the ground? That is the million dollar question.
Ken Shamrock is a Hall of famer for a reason, he was the first King of Pancrase and the first UFC Superfight Champion. A catch wrestling disciple of Masakatsu Funaki and Karl Gotch, Shamrock combined his fantastic size and strength with dazzling speed to become a world class submission grappler. After being invited and taking part in UFC 1 in 1993, he made it to the finals of the tournament where he was choked out by Royce Gracie. This was the beginning of a long standing rivalry between the two that would stretch for years. The combination of Shamrock’s intimidating appearance, grappling prowess, and penchant for trash talk would turn him into an instant star and the first for the sport. Shamrock would continue to fight in both Pancrase and the UFC for the next few years with good success. But as the sport began to wain in the United States, the money began to fade away as well.
Driven to provide for his family and the fight camp he founded, the Lion’s Den, he made the next logical step in his career to professional wrestling. Shamrock was a natural fit for the WWF(now the WWE) and with his legitimate fighting background became an instant fan favorite. Riding out the lean years in pro wrestling, Shamrock saw the sport make a financial comeback in the land of the rising sun and decided to make another go of it in Pride. This venture was not the instant success that Shamrock assumed it would be, as he won his first fight but lost his next two bouts and found himself shown the door to the promotion. The following year saw the development of events that would prove to be the turning point of the fighters career. He started a rivalry with a young champion of the UFC, Tito Ortiz. They scheduled a fight and the ensuing Pay Per view became the highest selling MMA pay per view in North American History. It undeniably proved that both the sport and Ken Shamrock could sell. The following grudge match outsold the original and the third match aired live on Spike TV basic cable and pulled the largest TV ratings ever for the sport to date. Shamrock was made a household name and was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. After being released from the UFC while riding a four fight losing streak, Shamrock attempted a comeback in an effort to promote a bout with step-brother Frank Shamrock. A first round knockout loss to since-retired Robert “Buzz” Berry has given Shamrock a fifth loss in a row going into his matchup with Kimbo Slice.
Shamrock is 44 and although in decent physical shape, has shown in recent years that his conditioning is no where near where it used to be, or where it needs to be now. If this fight goes further that one round, Shamrock will gas out. One thing Shamrock does have going for him is the ability to end this fight very quickly with a submission. Say what you will about his aging skills, Ken Shamrock is still one of the most dangerous people in the world on the ground. If he can get this fight on the floor at any point in this fight, he can break a leg or an ankle and end it with lightening quickness. Ken has the heart and the determination to take the punishment needed to get inside on Kimbo, take him down and submit him. The biggest x factor in this fight is if his chin will withstand Kimbo’s punishment. Shamrock has shown over the last few years that he has a chin like a light switch. If you hit it hard and fast enough he will go out. This game plan for Shamrock is rather simple, stay conscious long enough to hit the ground with Kimbo. Shamrock will take punishment in this fight, his defense both standing and on the mat is downright atrocious. As long as he keeps his chin tucked until he can take Kimbo down, he has a chance.
I see this fight ending quickly and horribly for Ken Shamrock. I think Kimbo will land his power shots before Shamrock has a chance to get his hands on him for the takedown. Say what you will about Kimbo’s all around skill set, but he has more than enough power to put Shamrock to sleep quickly here and that is why he was choosen. The kid in me wants to see Shamrock pull off the upset and get the submission win just like he would have 15 years ago. But the adult in me who knows the realities of today all too well realizes that he will see the end of a legend’s career Saturday night. I just hope we all stop and remember all that Ken Shamrock has accomplished for the sport and not what his last impression will be.