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Can Kimbo Slice effect positive change in American MMA?

Kimbo Slice, mixed martial artist, street brawler, entertainer, and family man.  Regardless of how you label the man, one thing is for certain, the word “draw” has to be included on your list.  Whether you support his efforts to become a complete mixed martial artists, or you desire to see him get beat repeatedly, you tune in.

With talk about a possible December 12th match up with heavy hitting Houston Alexander making its way around the internet, I asked myself a question.  “ How will Kimbo’s drawing power be effected by a loss in his Octagon debut? More importantly,  “ Could Kimbo actually be the catalyst to right what I consider to be one of the major wrongs in American MMA? “

If Kimbo Slice were an NBA player or and NFL draft pick he would be considered a “project”.  An athlete with a tremendous upside, but an equal amount of faults.   Kimbo Slice demands attention.  In a sport filled with more talented fighters, Kimbo is a household name.

Kimbo recently lost his first round bid to be the winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” of season 10.  He was quite easily defeated by Roy Nelson.   This loss however did very little to derail the hype train that proudly steams forward with Spike TV and Zuffa at the controls.

I’m not here to pass judgment on the situation because quite honestly, it’s just good business.   Regardless of what we may consider right or wrong,  it makes good business sense to continue to promote the man who brought you the attention, and possibly a new group followers to your product.  A loss to Houston Alexander in December would likely do very little to damage Slice as a  ticket  and pay per view seller.  As Cory Brady outlined so well “It’s all about how you spin it baby.”   I look for Zuffa to nurture the “Kimbo Slice” character along win or lose  proudly outlining that he is “growing” and “working hard”, and regardless of the outcome he is “entertaining”.

Which brings me to my point, Kimbo Slice could possibly be the catalyst to right a major wrong in American MMA.  For years I enjoyed Pride Fighting Championships.  I enjoyed the product, the match ups, but in my mind the one area they were a world leader in was the ability to appreciate fighters.   Regardless of records, if a fighter was entertaining,  the fighter had a home.   Their audience seemed less concerned with a fighter’s record and more interested in his “warrior spirit”. The company seemed to make a point of appreciating this aspect of the fight game.

For too long the MMA scene in the states has been conditioned in such a way that if you are not fighting for a title or you are not a title contender, you are lucky to still be on the roster.   If a fighter loses he was overrated to begin with, and heaven forbid he lose two in a row.   When this takes place, the fighter is often labeled a “can” and he is not worthy of the big show.

If you fight at 155, 170, or 205 in the UFC  the possibility is greater than ever to lose two fights in a row.  The talent in these divisions is deeper than ever.  Do consecutive losses  make a fighter less entertaining?

A fighter can lose a fight for any number of reasons,  poor training, injury coming into a fight, loss of mental focus, or his skill set is just not in his favor for certain match ups.   Guys like Scott Smith and Jorge Gurgel , they bring their heart every time, and more often than not are part of an entertaining fight.

I’ll be honest,  I would be looking forward to a tenth fight between  Scott Smith vs. Benji Radich or Robbie Lawler over some of the fights promotions put on as  championship fights or fights with “contenders.”

I love the sport, love watching fighters climb the ladder of success and earn championships, but even more than that I like to watch entertaining well matched fights with fighters laying it all out on the line.

For example,  fighter A.  has a record of 27-17-5  how is that viewed ?   Is he a “can”?  Fighter B.  in his last 8 outings has  4 fights of the night , 1 submission of the night, and 1 knockout of the night .  Who would win in this match up? Which one is in danger of losing his job, or not ever being signed?  For the record in the example above, fighters  A and B  are the same guy.

Given the climate of the recent past if this fighter were to lose twice in a row, he would more than likely be cut.

But I hold out hope, the recent signing of Phil Baroni, and the handling of Kimbo Slice could be the start of a new spin.  An effort by Zuffa to focus  fight fans on quality entertaining fights as well as wins, losses, and titles.  With what appears to be a increase in the number of shows per year, and possibly more and more MMA on free television the time is now to help viewers find a new appreciation for fights.  Fights that may not have an impact on the title picture, but certainly do have an impact on a casual fan’s appreciation for the sport and the fighters who perform.

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