It was only a matter of time before Dana White had his eyes on Kimbo Slice, the YouTube street fighting legend turned professional mixed martial artist. Ever since Kimbo decided to ditch the backyard brawls for legitimacy in the cage, all eyes have been on EliteXC, the promotion he reportedly has a four-fight contract with, to see if he could compete against real fighters. Despite being 2-0, the question of where Kimbo fits in with the world’s heavyweight fighters still remains. His professional career consists of wins over Bo Cantrell, who mentally quit before the fight even started, and Tank Abbott, whose best days have longed been over.
Chuck Liddell, the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, is one fighter who’s been outspoken on all the hype surrounding Kimbo. Earlier this month, he voiced his opinion in this article from The Sun:
“Kimbo’s one of those guys who doesn’t have any ground game. He’s training and he’s learning but he’s been built up as such a big star and that’s the thing that bothers me.
“People talk about him like he’s the next great thing when he really hasn’t done anything.
“He’s been built up because of the Internet and him beating a bunch of guys on the street.”
Chuck has never been shy about his willingness to fight anybody on this planet, so it goes without saying he would be down for a fight with Kimbo.
Now Dana White, the UFC President, has answered the question of whether he would be willing to make that fight happen. In an interview with the popular sports blog, Deadspin, White remarks:
“If he [Kimbo] fought anybody that mattered, I would book that tomorrow.
“The fact is, Kimbo’s not there yet. He would get destroyed. I heard he just got knocked out by Forrest Griffin last week in a sparring match after a kick to the head.
“I’d take him [Kimbo] absolutely seriously—but, again, he hasn’t beat anybody. In this sport, it’s all about ‘Who have you beat right now?’ And he hasn’t beat anybody.”
White isn’t the only one who recognizes Kimbo’s not ready. Bas Rutten, Kimbo’s trainer, former UFC Heavyweight Champion and three-time King of Pancrase, has stated publicly he’s not going to put him in front of any top heavyweights until Kimbo’s ready.
If Kimbo’s inexperience isn’t enough to prevent a match with Liddell from happening anytime soon, both fighters are under contract with different organizations, and the UFC will not co-promote with anybody. Liddell, the UFC’s biggest star, isn’t going to be going anywhere. Kimbo is EliteXC’s biggest draw and I can’t imagine Gary Shaw, the president of EliteXC, would let Kimbo get away without a fight. On May 31, Kimbo faces James Thompson which will be the third fight of his four-fight deal. If Kimbo proves to be capable of drawing a national audience in MMA’s primetime network television debut, look for Shaw to try immediately to tie him up to a long-term deal if he isn’t already. [Update: EliteXC has resigned Kimbo to a long-term, multi-year deal. Details were not disclosed.]
We may not see Chuck Liddell and Kimbo Slice clash in the center of the Octagon anytime soon, but at least there’s comfort in knowing the timing isn’t right. Fact of the matter is, Chuck is just too experienced and skilled for Kimbo right now. But if Kimbo keeps winning and facing better competition, who wouldn’t want to see that fight when he’s ready? Considering their collective popularity, it has the potential to be the most watched fight in MMA history, potential Dana White undoubtedly sees, too.
Credit to FiveOuncesOfPain.com for the find.