Mailbag: Tank running on empty

Kevin Iole

Kimbo Slice may one day become a quality mixed martial artist. The legendary Internet street fighter is simply a slugger at this point, though one has to give him credit for hooking up with MMA legend Bas Rutten in an attempt to learn the game.

Slice, whose real name is Kevin Ferguson, is 33 and has time to become a good, if not great, mixed martial artist. That will depend upon him and the amount of work he's willing to put into it.

Rutten says Slice is working hard and making progress, which is good enough for me because Rutten is an honest and credible source.

But there will be no way to tell how much he's improved by his next fight, when he meets Tank Abbott on Feb. 16. It's an utterly ridiculous main event unless Showtime, which is broadcasting the card, and Elite XC, which is promoting it, simply wants to showcase another first-round knockout loss by Abbott.

In his last three fights, Abbott has been stopped in the first round each time. He lasted two minutes and 29 seconds against Gary Turner on April 21. He made it 4:17 against Paul Buentello on Oct. 7, 2006. And he was choked out in 2:20 by Hidehiko Yoshida on Aug. 28, 2005.

He did score a win over Wes “Cabbage” Correira on May 7, 2005, but his last MMA win before that was in 1998.

Between the win over Correira and a win over Hugo Duarte at UFC 17 on May 15, 1998, Abbott lost four other bouts in the first round, lasting a combined total of 11:54.

Boxing promoters are routinely ripped for staging mismatches, but this is a case where an MMA promoter needs to be called out. Abbott has no business in the main event of any MMA card at this point.

The UFC pulled a similar stunt in 2006 when it rematched Ken Shamrock with Tito Ortiz so they could settle their "feud," even though it was obvious Shamrock was nowhere near able to compete with Ortiz.

Shamrock hadn't won a fight in more than two years when he took the fight against Ortiz at UFC 61. After being pummeled in a non- competitive fight, Shamrock complained about a quick stoppage (it wasn't) and got a rematch that inexplicably did huge numbers on Spike TV.

There are so many great fights that can be made, though, that it's an insult to have to accept someone like Tank Abbott in a main event of a nationally televised card.

With that, I'll get to a very busy reader mailbag.


Thank you for covering Marcus Davis, because I believe he is about one fight away from a title shot and I'm glad to see people are starting to notice him and give him credit. He is one hell of a fighter.


I think Davis' fight with Jess Liaudin at UFC 80 on Saturday has a chance to be the surprise fight of the night. Davis has improved dramatically and is moving among the upper echelon of the world's welterweights, though I don't think he's one fight away from a title shot.


Marcus Davis was a nobody in boxing and it was due to his talent. He lost his last fight in a ring to none other than Ed Bryant – yes, Ed Bryant – and by KO. He's better off at MMA. Boxing is for real.

Rich Rodriguez
Lemoore, Calif.

Davis was not an elite boxer like he is as an MMA fighter, though he was solid. But boxing and MMA are different sports. Where you stand in one has no bearing where you stand in the other.


You say that Dana White is no Vince McMahon. I'm not so sure. He's put title belts on hold for a reality series, harped on his friendships and enemies with fighters (Sean Sherk, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz) and hiring Joe Rogan to talk about every upcoming fight like it was Ali-Frazier III. And how about him not getting in the way of good fighters fighting in the UFC? What about Josh Barnett, Matt Lindland, Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture, not to mention overlooked guys like Gilbert Melendez and Paulo Filho, among others.

Lawrence Sullivan
South Bend, Ind.

What is wrong with the UFC giving a championship shot to the winner of The Ultimate Fighter? If memory serves, the man who is rated No. 2 in the Yahoo! Sports Top 10 poll, Georges St. Pierre, lost the title to the guy who won the reality series, Matt Serra. Of course White tries to hype fights. He's running a business, and it's his responsibility to try to sell tickets and pay-per-views. Has he made mistakes? Certainly, without question. He's far from perfect. But remember that it's White who has built the UFC into the juggernaut that it's become.


It is inevitable that at some point Top 10 lists for all-time MMA greats will be produced. My question is if old-timers like Bas Rutten, Royce Gracie, and Ken and Frank Shamrock would automatically appear on the list. On the one hand, the aforesaid developed the foundations on which MMA was built. On the other hand, those fighters, with the exception of Rutten and the Shamrocks (in their primes) were not nearly as well-rounded as the mixed martial artist of today. As a writer who has covered this sport's day-to-day activities, who do you rank higher on the list, Rickson Gracie or Fedor Emelianenko? Also, when do you foresee MMA being sanctioned in New York State?


New York

It would depend upon what the category of the top 10 list was whether they'd appear. I'll give you a quick top 10 now on the most significant fighters in MMA history to this point: 1. Royce Gracie; 2. Ken Shamrock; 3. Tito Ortiz; 4. Chuck Liddell; 5. Randy Couture; 6. Wanderlei Silva; 7. Dan Severn; 8. Don Frye; 9. Matt Hughes; 10. Frank Shamrock. These aren't necessarily the greatest fighters ever, though many of them would make such a list. But they're guys who helped build the sport into what it has become. As the fighters develop, though, fewer and fewer of the earlier fighters are going to appear on the lists of the greatest ever.


I just read "Horodecki the IFL's best hope" which you wrote on Dec. 20. It's a great article and I would love to see more about the IFL. I agree with you that Horodecki is a big draw, but I would have to say that the talent in the IFL is deeper then what you made it seem. Fighters like Jay Hieron, Benji Radach, Roy Nelson, Jamal Patterson and many others are fantastic, talented and entertaining fighters. You are correct that maintaining a strong broadcast partnership is key to the IFL's success but they don't need to have Horodecki fight. They just need to keep providing the quality fights that they have been.

Charles Buckallew
Chandler, Ariz.

The IFL's format in its first season was, quite frankly, screwy, and the league was destined to die because of it. Fortunately, they've made some changes for 2008, which I hope are helpful. I don't understand why they continuously go head-to-head with UFC events, but the key for them is to stage competitive cards regularly and to slowly improve the talent level of their fighters.


I noticed that B.J. Penn wasn't even mentioned in the Jan. 4th rankings in any division. This must be an oversight since he is competing for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 80 on Saturday and could be a contender in the welterweight division, too. I realize he has only fought Jens Pulver lately, but Fedor Emelianenko hasn't fought anyone important recently and remains the number one heavyweight (Does he own stock in Yahoo!).


Salem, Va.

The divisional rankings are done by MMA Weekly, who partner with Yahoo! Sports and provide MMA content. Nobody at Yahoo! Sports has a say in their rankings. I completely disagree with them, I might add, and believe Penn deserves to be the No. 1 lightweight. In the pound-for-pound reporter’ poll run by my Yahoo! Sports colleague, Dave Doyle, Penn is ranked seventh.


Obviously the middleweight division in the UFC is by far its weakest. However, the additions of Dan Henderson, Michael Bisping, along with the surge of Alan Belcher and the upcoming The Ultimate Fighter series featuring middleweights seem to make the division a lot tougher. Do you feel that this will be the boost that the division is looking for? Or do you think that other fighters need to be brought in? And if so who?

Hughson, Calif.

Henderson is one of the five best fighters in the world, so when you insert him at middleweight, you all of a sudden make it a lot better. He's ranked sixth in our most recent Yahoo! Sports poll. But a division goes deeper than the top two or three guys. If Bisping can adapt to the new weight, it will be a boon for the 185-pound class because he's a quality fighter.


Georges St. Pierre is one of the most exciting and dominant fighters anyone has ever seen. Matt Hughes is one of the very strongest and most powerful fighters around, along with skill, willpower, and championship experience. Watching St. Pierre toss him around like an amateur, seeing him get handled, and watching him scream out to the referee for a verbal tapout and looking at the pain on his face – it's like they didn't belong in the same ring. Is St. Pierre really that much better than everyone else? I couldn't help but to think about the HGH and steroid buzz in other sports. My question is what is the drug testing policy in the MMA? I know this is dicey material for a reporter, but I urge you to take a close look.


I believe there is rampant steroid usage in MMA. However, having said that, there is no evidence that St. Pierre is using any illegal substance. I haven't even heard so much as a whisper about it. He had a clean urinalysis when he was tested after his win over Hughes at UFC 79. The athletic commissions where the fights are held determines what type of testing is done, though when the UFC goes to the U.K., as it will on Saturday, it tests for steroids and drugs of abuse on its own since there is no regulatory agency there that does it.