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Mailbag: Does Kimbo have a future in MMA?

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

My colleagues Dan Wetzel, Dave Meltzer and I had our say after Seth Petruzelli's shocking 14-second victory over Kimbo Slice on Saturday in Sunrise, Fla., in the main event of the Elite XC show on CBS.

Now, it's your turn. I'll answer your questions about Kimbo, Gina Carano, EliteXC's future and more in this edition of the mailbag.

My answers are in italics. Let's get to it.

MODERN DAY TANK ABBOTT

Many in the mixed martial arts community are not happy about Kimbo Slice for various reasons. I would agree that he does not have the skills needed to compete against top talent and has not fought enough to earn his place. In my opinion, he seems to be the Tank Abbott of today. Fans liked Tank in his earlier days, watching him brawl even though the MMA talent was not there. I understand the sport has matured since then and the fighters are more well-rounded, but isn't there something to be said for the personality/entertainment value of the fighter? I kind of miss the different characters we saw fight in the 1990s because so many fighters of today are similar. Doesn't someone like Kimbo fill an important void?

Mike Portis

Boston

I agree with you, Mike. I've been accused of being a Kimbo basher, but I am not. I have defended him numerous times in the past. Here's the thing: Clearly, he's not a very good fighter at this stage. He's a guy who found a gimmick that would make a ton of money and he's taken advantage of it. God bless him for it. Who among us wouldn't capitalize on that? What I objected to was his legend being blown out of proportion. I was getting emails from Kimbo fans suggesting he'd beat Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on the same night. It was clearly ridiculous. He was a protected fighter facing carefully chosen opponents designed to make him look good. Now, to your point, I think you're 100 percent correct. Kimbo has been great for mixed martial arts. He's brought in a tremendous amount of fans. He's been respectful to the sport, he's gone about his business the right way and he's been professional in the way he's handled his obligations. Hopefully, he'll get another crack. He's been exposed now -- beaten by a very ordinary light heavyweight -- and there is a large segment which will never accept him now. Maybe Bas Rutten can develop him into a legitimate fighter. I doubt it, but I'd love to see that occur. But if not, I hope he gets at least one more good payday, because he's been good for the sport and he deserves that.

ELITE XC'S FUTURE

Kevin, I'm glad you wrote a fair synopsis and critique of the EliteXC event on Saturday night, but I'm more interested to find out where you think this organization goes from here. In my opinion, unless major changes are made, this promotion is finished. They cannot continue to make idiotic decisions and hope to thrive. They sign over-the-hill fighters (first Ken Shamrock and now Tito Ortiz?). Its star female constantly fails to make weight and has to nearly kill herself to even get close because there are so few weight classes. The face of its organization loses a nationally televised main event in 14 seconds and appears to be more concerned after the fight about informing the audience where that his after-party was still on. And now we get the bombshell that Seth Petruzelli was supposedly paid by EliteXC to not take Kimbo to the ground. As an MMA fan, I have seen all I can stomach from this organization. Is there any hope of salvation here?

Jimmy Williams

Derry, N.H.

There is hope, Jimmy, but I wouldn't bet on it. Certainly, allowing Jared Shaw so much influence is a mistake in my opinion. He comes from a boxing background (well, his boxing background is that his father is a long-time promoter; I'm not sure what HIS background is). At such a critical juncture, I think the company really needs to rely on experienced management to guide it forward. Some sort of merger with Affliction would be the best hope for both companies, I believe.

INEPT COLUMNIST

The only thing inept is your reporting. Yahoo! Sports is a joke when it comes to MMA reporting and you're the most unprofessional sports writer they have. How do you write the [expletive] you do and not feel guilty that you're lying to the gullible, novice MMA fans who visit the site? UFC president Dana White has an entire site dedicated to kissing his ass and it's not UFC.com.

Rob Bravo

I just wonder when I'm going to start getting paid for all I'm supposedly doing for him.

ELITE XC-AFFLICTION TIE-IN?

Assuming there are more EliteXC cards to be aired on CBS, do you think Affliction will be tied to them? Affliction has been a mainstay on the pay-per-view circuit for awhile and although they'd kill for some primetime coverage, would it be wise of them to

tie-in with the fumbling/bumbling EliteXC? The Affliction fighters seem to me to be more competitive and overall more complete fighters. Do they have a chance to maybe take over the CBS spots, assuming EliteXC crumbles?

Aaron

You're quite generous, Aaron. Affliction has been a mainstay on the pay-per-view circuit for a while? They've had one pay-per-view and were planning another, which they canceled because of poor ticket sales and other problems. But I digress. I do think a merger between the two would be a great idea. Affliction has more high-end talent, though most of it is in the heavyweight division. And while EliteXC has made its share of gaffes, it has done a lot of good. I think Gus Johnson has a lot of potential as a play-by-play announcer. Yes, his call of Petruzelli's knockout of Kimbo was over the top and I think even he'd concede that wasn't his finest hour. But he's far from their biggest problem. And let's also realize that while Kimbo was a legend on YouTube for his street brawls, there were many, many more who had no idea who he was before he came to EliteXC. EliteXC deserves a tremendous amount of credit for building both Kimbo and Gina Carano into stars. You can't underestimate that. They've made some colossal blunders, too, but they've built two fighters into household names in the U.S. in a very short period of time. They landed a network TV deal. They have a lot of pieces in place. An affiliation with Affliction might be a wise move, though EliteXC's financial problems might ultimately be too great to overcome.

LET'S GET THE CARANO-CYBORG FIGHT ON

I agree with everything you said about the EliteXC broadcast, and your doubts about the future of the company. I just hope they manage to stay in business long enough to put together the Gina Carano-Cris "Cyborg" Santos fight. I hope they make the rounds five minutes, too, and I hope CBS sticks with them long enough to show it, because while they could put it on PPV, they've shown me nothing to inspire thirty bucks out of my pocket.

Edward Maharajh

It was a huge mistake for CBS not to have Cyborg fight on the televised portion of the card, as well, but at least it showed highlights of her. I think that fight will be a fun one to watch, and I'd favor Cyborg at this stage. Unfortunately, Edward, I believe it's going to go pay-per-view unless EliteXC officials have a dramatic change of heart.

CBS SELLOUTS?

In light of the "Slice Circus" from this past Saturday, as a journalist who covers MMA in a rather objective fashion, do you agree that the announcers simply sold out to CBS and would say anything CBS demanded to sell the program? While anyone can understand the need to keep the promotion afloat, comments like the "biggest upset in mixed martial arts history" do nothing but hurt the sport.

Joe

Philadelphia

One of the differences that should be pointed out here, is that the fights are put on by CBS Entertainment and not by CBS Sports. That's a big difference, I believe. Having said that, I would prefer more objectivity from the announcers as they call the show. I think Gus Johnson has done an overall good job on the three shows, but the first thing I thought of as he uttered the biggest upset line was 'What must Matt Serra be thinking?' I really don't think the announcers were flat out told to try to sell the show. But I do think there was subtle pressure. A lot of fans have ripped Gus for the line, but I know what it's like to be on deadline and under that pressure and sometimes something comes out not the way you want it. It was a mistake, but I wouldn't crucify him for it.

DON'T CHEER

I don't know if anyone saw this, but did anyone see EliteXC's Jared Shaw complaining that Kimbo Slice was being hit in the back of the head as he was getting demolished? How can he openly cheer for someone in his company to lose to Kimbo? This is not the first time he has openly cheered for Kimbo on TV. How does this not annoy every single fighter for EliteXC?

Haaris Quraishy

Marietta, Ga.

Jared is young and inexperienced. He falls in love with the fighters. He should realize he's a promoter, not part of the fighter's team. What he should have been thinking at the time Kimbo went down was how to spin it for a rematch. That's what a sharp promoter does. It would have been simple to say, 'Hey, Kimbo is an inexperienced fighter who had trained for one style and was thrown off by all the late changes. Seth did a great job and got a well-earned win. We're going to rematch them and see what happens.' But complaining like he did simply makes him look amateurish.