If Kimbo Slice wins his fight against James Thompson on the national stage, a lot of talk is going to heat up about who his next opponent will be. Roy Nelson was the latest name to be thrown in the hat, although you must consider the source—IFL CEO Jay Larkin. It’s an appropriate fight, but barely delivers any upside to EliteXC and may not happen.
If not Nelson, there have been other names tossed around recently, including Mike Tyson and Sean Gannon. They would both be big-money fights that would probably do very well on pay-per-view assuming EliteXC does well on CBS, and should be relatively easy opponents for Kimbo to run through.
The other heavyweight in EliteXC that deserves some attention is Antonio ‘Big Foot’ Silva. Silva is likely the best heavyweight EliteXC currently has on its roster, so it’s almost inevitable that Kimbo will have to face him at some point.
In an interview with Fightline.com, Gary Shaw, EliteXC’s president, gives his thoughts on where those potential matches stand for Kimbo Slice.
On a fight with Mike Tyson
Slice calls Tyson one of his heroes and a guy he’d love to fight. Any chance this thing actually gets done?
Absolutely. If Mike wants to fight in a cage, I’ll put him in a cage and we’ll do a Tyson fight…if Mike really wants to fight. I’ve represented Mike before; he knows how to find me.
What about a straight boxing match between the two?
Straight boxing match? Yes.
Yes. I’m a big time promoter. I would back Kimbo against anybody in the world, including the Klitschko’s. He would knock any of those guys out.
I’ve put my two cents in on this matchup before, but if it’s going to happen I would much rather see it happen in a boxing ring. Tyson has no business fighting in a mixed martial arts fight without the proper training. And while I don’t think Slice fighting on CBS is going to damage MMA, I’m not so sure a fight against Tyson wouldn’t.
If it gets made as a boxing match, fine, I’m cool with it, whatever. I just don’t care to see it in a cage.
On a fight with Sean Gannon
Gannon was the only fighter to have ever beaten Kimbo in a street brawl, but the fight was very controversial. Any chance we see the two of them go at it again?
Absolutely. That fight is first and foremost on our minds. If we can get Gannon in the cage for the right amount of money and it makes economic sense then we will do it.
Can we expect to see this fight by the end of the year?
I don’t know. I would hope so, yes. But I can’t tell you definitely. It all comes down to money like anything else.
I’ve shared my thoughts on this one as well. I’m not crazy about this particular fight either, but it’s likely to draw a lot of attention. My problem with it is that it will essentially be recognizing a controversial street fight in the same manner as a controversial professional bout—as a legitimate fight. That’s a road I don’t want to see mainstream mixed martial arts travel down.
If Kimbo feels he needs a rematch against Gannon to redeem himself, then let them do it in a warehouse—not that I condone street fighting—where no one will see it. Of course, like Shaw said, it’s about the money, so it’s probably coming to a television screen near you sometime soon.
On a fight with Antonio Silva
‘Big Foot’ Silva…yes absolutely. This one will happen at some point. ‘Big Foot’ is a hell of a fighter.
How good is Antonio Silva?
I think he’s number one or two in the world. You don’t hear anybody calling him out. Always remember, if they don’t call you out it’s not because you
suck it’s because you could probably beat them.
Now, this is a Kimbo fight worth getting excited about. Silva is a legitimate fighter, although Shaw calling him one or two in the world is laughable and should just be chalked up to Shaw being a promoter.
Silva is a huge heavyweight that moves very fast for his size with very good skills. With that said, before Silva can be considered one or two or even top-ten he needs to face top-ten heavyweights and that’s just not possible at this point unless EliteXC co-promotes with another organization. The UFC won’t do it, but less than half of the world’s top-ten heavyweights still reside there. Affliction and Adrenaline MMA have the majority of the rest under non-exclusive deals so hopefully that’s something that happens in the near future.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t expect them to put Kimbo in the cage with Silva anytime soon. Kimbo is being brought up slowly and we have no reason to believe that his skills are anywhere near the level of Silva’s yet. Maybe in a year’s time this one will become a reality, but don’t count on it happening in 2008.
On the UFC’s exclusive contracts
A Gary Shaw interview wouldn’t be complete without him taking a shot at Dana White and the UFC.
Dana White runs a pet store. He likes to keep everyone in little cages. I run a jungle. My guys run wild and they fight other fighters and other animals and whatever. So, you know, he runs his company in a controlled environment and I run mine like it should be run.
That’s a creative analogy I haven’t heard before. It’s true the UFC won’t let their fighters fight outside of the organization, but they really have no incentive to at this point. Shaw is a promoter in the business of making money, so don’t think that he wouldn’t be doing the same thing if he were in Dana White’s shoes.
That said, non-exclusivity is how this sport should be run in order to give the fans the best fights with the best fighters fighting each other. Dana White and many UFC diehard fans like to say that the UFC has all of the best fighters. They’re wrong.
In fact, according to the most recent WAMMA rankings, Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC and WEC, only have 31 of the 50 top-ten fighters in the top five weight classes (did not count Randy Couture under Zuffa). In reality, Zuffa controls 61% of the world’s top fighters. As fans, we deserve to see 100% of the world’s top fighters fighting each other.
Ultimately, we, as the consumers, will decide.