Blog Entry

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

Posted on: October 2, 2009 1:05 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2009 12:53 pm
Maybe you heard, but Roy Nelson beat Kimbo Slice on The Ultimate Fighter. It was kind of a big deal. The fight broke Spike TV ratings records, but when Kimbo gets into the cage with cameras present, that's usually what happens.

People watch. Records break. You know. That old chestnut.

But what follows every Kimbo Slice fight is an avalanche of micro-analysis from a wide swath of humanity, from journalists all the way down to the marginally interested casual TV viewer that happened to catch the fight while flipping channels. As the opinions flooded the internet over the past few days, a few things became abundantly clear:

  • The fight itself was a letdown.
  • Kimbo seems just as genuine today as he did in 2008.
  • Unlike in 2008, people are now willing to give Kimbo credit for that.
  • When he's not fighting in the main event of a non-UFC show, Kimbo Slice is suddenly way more likeable.

Perhaps the biggest turn of events: When it comes to objects of ridicule and scorn, Roy Nelson is the new Kimbo Slice.

Roy Nelson (UFC) Prior to the season premiere of TUF 10, MMA fans roundly (and rightly) accepted Nelson as one of the favorites to win it all. He was a well-established, successful heavyweight outside of the UFC already. His bulk was a problem for opponents and his skill set was good enough to consider him a moderate threat from any position, standing our on the canvas. But in praising Nelson as the guy to beat -- and in the week leading up to the show, as a fighter far more impressive than Kimbo Slice -- informed MMA fans may have helped set up casual MMA watchers for disappointment.

Casual fans are notorious for not enjoying or appreciating ground fighting. When Nelson took Kimbo down, held him in a crucifix and used a series of light punches to stay active enough to win via stoppage since Kimbo couldn't move, MMA fans understood what he was doing. It was fair, it was legal, and under the circumstances, it was a great strategy. But to most of the casual fans watching on TV, it was a turn-off.

Nelson used a combination of his formidable girth and good technique to win that fight. But many of the casual fans watching didn't pick up on the technique part of it. All they saw was that bulbous belly. All they saw was a fat guy laying on top of a superstar and love-tapping him until the referee decided the fight was over. And when Kimbo got up, he didn't even look hurt.

There was technique involved, but a person new to MMA typically isn't going to pick up on that. If MMA is to convert all of those new eyeballs into full-blown MMA fans, it will not be with a fight like that, nor with a fighter like Roy Nelson.

In South Florida -- Kimbo's turf -- popular morning drive DJs Paul Castronovo and "Young" Ron Brewer, who rarely discuss the UFC, talked about the fight before it aired. The morning after, Castronovo called Nelson's win the "gayest thing I've ever seen on television." Once intrigued by Kimbo, the hosts blew him off for not being able to beat a big, fat guy who didn't appear to be hurting him at all.

Aside from their lessened opinion of Kimbo Slice (most people seem to like the guy more now in spite of the loss, and the UFC is going out of their way to build on that for obvious reasons), Paul and Ron echoed a lot the same opinions I've heard and read from new viewers that saw that fight. The majority opinion from the non-MMA crowd is "That fat guy who asked the promoter for a cheeseburger is a real MMA fighter and Kimbo Slice isn't? Check please."

That's not Roy Nelson's fault. If he went out of his way to make the fight more exciting, he would have abandoned his game plan and exposed himself to a greater chance of defeat. It's not the fault of knowledgeable MMA fans for building up Nelson as a respectable MMA fighter, because he is (doughy physique notwithstanding).

If the new viewers were turned off by Nelson, it seems as if the UFC and Spike TV turned that negative into a positive by helping Kimbo Slice repair his own image. All things considered, that was the big victory here. Win or lose, Roy Nelson was never going to be a breakout superstar. The money -- and the potential new fans -- always rested with Kimbo, and they've done as good a job protecting that investment as possible given that the guy didn't win his first (and potentially last, but they're teasing otherwise) fight on TUF.

A year ago, longtime MMA fans hated Kimbo Slice for being a street fighter soiling the sport's reputation by waltzing right in as a main eventer on network TV. Today, the casual fans hate Roy Nelson for being a chubby guy that puts on boring fights. We know Nelson is the exception to the rule, but they don't. The trick is getting them to tune in again to find otherwise.

What's worse for the potential growth of MMA in the mainstream: An exciting one-trick pony like Kimbo, or a well-rounded fighter that bores the casual fans and doesn't look the role of a true athlete? What's more likely to turn away potential new fans?

At what point does the sport have to make concessions for the casual fans in order to grow the business, and where would you draw that line? I'm interested in your opinions, so fire away.

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Since: May 31, 2009
Posted on: October 27, 2009 3:49 pm

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

Right on Linus!!!!

Kind of hope that Dana feeds Roy "Whopper" Nelson to Cain Valesquez or someone else capable of poinding his fat butt out right off the bat if he wins TUF.

Since: May 31, 2009
Posted on: October 27, 2009 2:56 pm

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

I agree with the size issue for sure. Iwonder if the UFC would consider adding a weight class at 225 or 235? There are a lot of fighters on that line where there is no way that they can handle the big heavyweights (Brock Lesnar) and some 205 guys that may move up to that weight (Rampage). It would even be a great weight class for Couture to get another year or two out of his career as well.

The other and bigger question I have regarding Kimbo is whether or not he can learn enough wrestling/submission defense in order to stay on his feet where he appears to at least be able to hang with most guys his size. Chuck Liddell knew how to stay on his feet and off of his back in order to impose his superior striking, even the fight that he lost to Couture he was able to get back to his feet almost at will. Kimbo will have to learn that skill set and probably pray for the UFC to add another weight class as well in order to be successful IMO.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: October 18, 2009 10:54 am

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

This whole article takes one strange thing into consideration...

Would the so called "casual mma fan " really even know who the hell kimbo slice is anyways?

This is written from a weird perception honestly.  Most people that occasionally watch spike tv's re-airings of old UFC's would wonder who every single fighter is (including rampage and evans) on top of wondering who Kimbo is.

Just feels like this had some good points, but assumes some unrealistic stuff to be honest..

Since: Dec 2, 2006
Posted on: October 17, 2009 1:50 am

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

its a bit hard to warm up to the idea that dana white and the other puppet-masters of the world are painting the fight a certain way and all these people are being duped it when everyone saw the actual fight and can decide whether fat country was using a technicality to get the fight stopped or actually fighting to win.  Like kldub was an mma fan before the ultimate fighter 1 and has genuine expertise on the topic of nhb/mma.  And Roy Nelson was the IFL heavyweight champion where he was a notorious layer and prayer, which put him in the top 50 or so but no higher behind every pride, pancrase, K-1, and ufc heavyweight of the early 2000's.  The only top ten he ever entered was the hotdog eating contest.  Kldub is fourteen years old postering like he has a clue, just ignore him.

Since: Oct 13, 2009
Posted on: October 16, 2009 8:31 pm

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

So what your saying is since it did not appear to do very much damage it should not have been stopped? The rule is plain from what you have typed out. Intelligently defending oneself. He didn't defend himself at all. Regardless of the force behind a punch it does some damage, visible or not. The brain is suspended in liquid, and rocking the head with even the smallest of force will move the brain. Now moving the brain back and forth with jabs to the skull will eventually cause damage. There was a lot of time left in the fight and Kimbo had no possibility to escape. The end of the round would have simply resulted in more taps to the brain(more over he would not have let the bell ring and lose money for not getting the finish) with the real possibility of injury for Slice. Without stoppage the result would have been the same, but Kimbo would have received more punishment. This is black and white. If the ref had not stopped it Country would have just started throwing elbows which would have destroyed his face. The reason he didn't throw haymakers was to avoid all risk. He hurts his hand punching Kimbo in the face he will need to fight hurt days later. Why would he even consider that? MMA has a lot to do with intelligent fighting which I would assume you would know about since you claim to train. If you had a fight won would you risk hurting yourself to appease fans that don't understand the methodology when you had another fight against a better fighter coming up? Would you show all your skill set just to prove to the common fan you have it, despite revealing your self to other fighters? For any fighter this is plain and simple. Country will have the opportunity to prove he can bang later because he didn’t get beat. His goal is to win and get a big contract not lose and get low pay fights from the scrap of the table.

Since: Oct 10, 2009
Posted on: October 10, 2009 11:47 am


Please, this "game plan" was the same one Lesner used to beat Mir this last time. When a guy outweighs another by more than 40 pounds its a huge disadvantage. The UFC, and MMA moreover needs tighter weigh classes, including a super heavy. You cant give up 60 or 70 pounds and have a fair fight. Randy would have beat Lesner had there been a 20 pound difference, but you saw what happens when you fight a guy 80 pounds heavier...I know some will say the old Gracie battles were not weighted but now its different. This is about the business and the business needs fans and fans dont cut much slack to a "champion" being pounded out by a fat slob, but thats reality given a big enough weight difference.

Since: Oct 5, 2007
Posted on: October 9, 2009 9:15 pm

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

Gannon wasn't supposed to be using knees in that fight. It wasn't an mma match.

Since: Jul 23, 2009
Posted on: October 9, 2009 1:33 pm

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

Really don't know what to think about that fight.  We hear Roy Nelson talking about this strategy at the house before the fight.  He went in and executed a very smart strategy that was withing the rules and got himself the win.  I can't begrudge him for that.  However, there is more to this show then winning it.  You have to make yourself memorable.   This was the top rated TUF show if all time.  Roy Nelson should have known there was going to be a ton of viewers for this fight and took advantage of that to show everyone something.  It looks like this fight converted more Kimbo fans then Nelson fans (supported in the previous comments).  Roy needed to take some risks to show he is more then a "smart fighter", but also an exciting one that would be worthy to have people pay PPV money for.  Also let's not discount the casual fan.  To grow this sport we need to make more casual fans into hard core fans.  Those of us who are already MMA fan are going to support the PPV and TUF, etc. regardless.  We need more people getting excited about the sport and this fight isn't the catalyst that is going to do that although it had a chance to be.  Too bad for Roy!!

Since: Jan 25, 2008
Posted on: October 9, 2009 1:17 pm

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

It's funny to me all the Roy Nelson hate from people who are claiming to be fans of MMA.  Nelson is not known as a lay and pray'er, and at the end of the 1st round he was delivering more damaging blows than he did in the second round.  He thought the fight should have been stopped in the first and Dean was close to it.  In the second he quickly regained the same position, and with less verocity began delivering unanswered blows, it almost looked like he didn't want to hurt a guy that had absolutely no idea of what to do.  So he gets attacked for getting into a position and making the other fighter helpless and deciding not to hurt the guy?  If people didn't like it get mad a Kimbo for not being able to reverse the position, or in fact even try to reverse it!!!

It always makes me laugh how evryone is so gullible to the storylines and what picture the UFC and Dana White want to paint for us as fans.  Is it just me or is it more than a coincidence that Kimbo had to step into the ring with the most experienced, and highly thought of fighter in the house.  It was really a no lose situation for him (I especially think the UFC viewed it that way) and he came out of the fight uninjured.

For those of you who don't realize this Roy Nelson is currently a borderline top 10 in the world heavyweight, and has been in the top 10 before.  He has power in his hands, a black belt in BJJ, and a solid wrestler.  His goal is to win the Ultimate Fighter, because he realizes that even though a stint in the UFC is great winning the show can give him a career even after he is no longer wanted by the UFC.

Since: Feb 3, 2008
Posted on: October 7, 2009 7:21 pm

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

I really don't think there is much I can say... Denny this was a great post, just wanted to say keep up the good work covering MMA.

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