Love him or hate him, people talk Kimbo

Kevin Iole

Wow.

All I can say is, wow. You guys have strong opinions on Kimbo Slice. Here's a sampling of what you had to say, along with my answers in italics. I also get to a few non-Kimbo topics at the end of the column.

KIMBO IS A JOKE

This is more of a comment than anything. Kimbo this, Kimbo that! Blah, blah, blah! He has not proven anything. He's beaten no-namers with no skill. Tank Abbott? Come on, he was done 10 years ago. He has no credentials. What about Brock Lesnar? You take away that WWE title and he still has quite the potential, plus the background. No one is making a big deal about him. Why don't they fight! Lesnar would destroy Kimbo! But neither will ever see gold!

Eric
Lorain, Ohio

If you read my column on Kimbo , I said he's beaten a bunch of tomato cans. I simply give the man credit for attempting to learn the sport and for the unbelievable popularity he has. He was at a boxing card Saturday in Primm, Nev., and was recognized by nearly everyone in the place. For what it's worth, I'd favor Lesnar over Kimbo, as well, but it's a fight that won't happen any time soon.

WHY ALL THE FUSS?

While I see the importance of Kimbo Slice in the expansion of the sport, I don't get the spectacle surrounding him. I do respect that he is genuinely learning the sport with one of its all-time greats, Bas Rutten, and not just attempting to cash in on the YouTube phenomena. However, he has not done much and, frankly, I was quite angered by the use of Tank Abbott(a paper tiger at best, a joke at worst) to promote some sort of "super fight." It insulted my intelligence as a fan and I felt it was a step back for the sport. If Slice had, before an American audience, stormed onto the scene like a Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou with brutal back-to-back knockouts of two elite fighters in PRIDE a short time ago, for instance, I would understand it much better.

Brent Funderburk
Bloomington, Ind.

Quite frankly, Brent, I don't get the interest in him, either, but it's most decidedly there. I agree with your point about Abbott and I ripped Elite XC for choosing Abbott in my Jan. 15 mailbag. In that, I wrote, "It's an utterly ridiculous main event … "

NO FREAK SHOW
I enjoyed the article on Kimbo. He is no "freak show" and I think he is for real. However, I do have a problem with Elite XC president Gary Shaw continually handing Kimbo the unicycle. Fights with Tyson and Butterbean aren't what MMA fans want to see and Shaw needs to know that. Shaw seems to get it right with his boxing cards on Showtime, but he seems to be clueless with his MMA venture. Why on earth would he bank his whole MMA promotion on one fighter success when he has a stable of promising MMA fighters that could give new fans a good look at what MMA truly is?

Ernie Calderas
Huntington Beach, Calif.

I am vehemently against fights such as Kimbo-Tank, Kimbo-Tyson or Kimbo-Butterbean, as they relegate a classic sport to a circus act. But Kimbo and Gina Carano will guarantee Shaw eyeballs and that's why both are on the Elite XC show on CBS on May 31. By the way, I had an outstanding interview with Carano and will have a column on her sometime next week.

WHY NOT SHAMROCK

If Gary Shaw is going to match Kimbo Slice against James Thompson, a guy who lost six of his last eight fights, wouldn't it be better to go with the original plan and put Kimbo in a match against Ken Shamrock for the CBS debut? Even though Shamrock is on a five-fight losing streak (all of them ending in irst-round stoppages) and is way past his prime, he is a pioneer of MMA, a UFC Hall of Famer, and he would kind of make Kimbo a credible MMA fighter if matched up against him. Just think of it as Brock Lesnar against Mark Coleman.

Drew
Culver City, Calif.

Matching Kimbo at this stage of his development is extremely difficult. Kimbo is a neophyte in MMA, but he's also a main event fighter. So you have to find an opponent who is not too advanced for him but who will be acceptable to a crowd as a main event opponent. I'm sure Ken Shamrock would have gladly taken the fight and he may still get it down the road. Thompson is in the main event precisely because Elite XC wants to see Kimbo score a resounding knockout and Thompson at least provides a background, some name recognition and has the size to make it appear like a competitive bout.

NO COMPARISON WITH TYSON

Did you really just compare Kimbo Slice and Iron Mike Tyson? It doesn't matter how far boxing has fallen as a sport, or how popular MMA has become, there is no justification for such a comparison. Mike Tyson may have been the hardest-hitter ever, and you compare that to a street thug? Why, because he is popular? If Tyson landed one shot on any MMA fighter they would be out cold. On the other hand, anyone in the world in MMA could punch Tyson numerous times as hard as they could and he could take quite a bit of it. Stop riding the popularity bandwagon and be an objective sports writer like you're supposed to be, because lately you have sounded like a fool.

David White
Marquette, Mich.

I never compared Tyson and Slice as fighters. I never suggested, as many have emailed me in outrage, that Slice could defeat Tyson. The point of my column was that fights like that are ridiculous. But there is a parallel to be drawn. Both gained huge followings because of knockout power and video, Tyson on TV and Slice on YouTube. That's a legitimate comparison. And even if Tyson were active as a boxer today, this would all still be a joke since boxing and MMA are completely different sports.

OUTRAGEOUS CLAIM

You called the Elite XC show on May 31 the most important card in mixed martial arts history. Does Elite XC pay you to make such outrageous claims or do you really believe that the nearly defunct and second-rate Elite XC is that important? Aside from a couple of fighters, the wholeorganization is like Arena football compared to the level of fighters in the UFC.

Jay

I called it the most important card in MMA history because it's the first on network television. It could have an extraordinary impact upon the sport in the U.S. It doesn't matter the promoter or the fighters. The fact it's on network television makes it significant.

SHERK A JUICER?

After many months of following Sean Sherk and his steroid scandal, I still don't know whether he did them or not. Is he just saying he didn't over and over and everyone in MMA knows otherwise? Or was there really a mix-up and his sample was tainted by some testing facility. I would really like him to win this weekend, but I also don't want to root for a cheater.

Mike
Eldersburg, Md.

The Sherk case is a hard call, Mike. When his positive test was announced, he loudly proclaimed his innocence. Yet, at that stage, I thought he was full of it. Nearly every athlete who is caught denies it and nearly every one has been guilty. In Sherk's case, I eventually came around to his side, but I have to admit, I'm not 100 percent certain. He says he has evidence that he may have taken a contaminated supplement. He also produced evidence that his levels were naturally high. As B.J. Penn said to him on a conference call last week, if that's true, his levels should test high again following the fight at UFC 84.

DIRTY SPORT

The main reason I can't get with the UFC or even MMA is because it seems as if a lot of their fighters are juicing. Unlike boxing, where you have stringen testing rules and on occasion fighters tests positive for banned substances, I think we can say by and large it's a relatively clean sport. The UFC, on the other hand, has these dudes looking like they should be posing in FLEX magazine.

Doug
Baltimore

There are a lot of fighters taking steroids, but it's no greater in MMA than in boxing. The testing rules are the same for both sports. And there are a lot more positive steroids tests in boxing than you're letting on.

WHERE IS SHANE

Why is the UFC not going to show the Shane Carwin fight with Christian Wellisch? They have a true heavyweight with a ton of potential here that the fans are starving for. Why on Earth not televise it? Please help me understand this logic.

Tom Mahoney
Jacksonville, Fla.

I believe the Carwin-Wellisch fight will be shown during the broadcast. It's not going to be shown live, but unless something extraordinary happens, the fight will be broadcast.

LOVE FOR HEATH

Heath Herring has the experience and the ability to be the next UFC heavyweight champion. These guys (Carwin, Lesnar and Cain Velasquez) are young and have not had the fighting experience to make them contenders. We look forward to hearing from you to do an article on Heath.

Raffi
Las Vegas

Since Heath has already lost three times to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who holds the UFC's interim heavyweight belt, I don't think Heath will be in the mix for a title shot any time soon. Sorry, Raffi.