Sunday, October 05, 2008

Wrong sport for Kimbo

I've been a Kimbo Slice fan since back in 2003 or 2004, before there was a YouTube, when somebody pointed me to his first fight on video -- the one where he smashed a guy's eye socket -- which was on a mostly-porn site at the time. I thought he was a fascinating spectacle, and I wondered what kind of career he could make out of his ability to hit people really hard.

There was initially a lot of talk about Kimbo becoming a boxer, since he had at least rudimentary boxing skills, although his age worked against that. I was a little surprised when he went into mixed-martial arts instead, since that requires a broader skill set, one he'd never had to demonstrate.

But Kimbo was training with the renowned Bas Rutten, and he did well in his first three fights, finishing them all inside two minutes of the first round. And I was glad. In interviews, it turned out that the fearsome Kimbo Slice is actually an intelligent and thoughtful man. I wanted him to succeed.

But his fight against James Thompson was a disaster. Thompson was supposed to be a tomato can, a guy with a week chin, somebody Kimbo would take out in seconds. But Thompson took Kimbo to the ground, and Kimbo was helpless. Only the ineptitude of Thompson's ground and pound -- it was more like ground and pattycake -- saved Kimbo from a quick TKO. Eventually, the referee handed the fight to Kimbo on a dubious TKO, even though Thompson was still on his feet and protecting himself.

But the danger signs were there, and last night fully exposed Kimbo. He got knocked down -- maybe he was stunned a little, but he certainly wasn't out -- and once he hit the floor, he was helpless again. And last-minute substitute Seth Petruzelli had no trouble pounding him into a TKO. The ref had no choice but to stop the fight. Kimbo wasn't defending himself.

I don't know if it's panic or what, but once Kimbo goes down, he simply freezes. He doesn't fight back, he doesn't cover up effectively, he doesn't escape (and there are good MMA techniques for all of those things, no matter how bad your position looks). He just lays there. Again, I don't know if he hasn't trained properly for that kind of situation or if he just panics and forgets everything he's learned, but last night he did it again.

Kimbo might have been better off going into boxing instead. There, at least if you get knocked down you can take an eight-count and clear your head before you have to fight again.

Or better yet, he should have gone into pro wrestling, where the hype of his fearsome appearance and his ferocious knockouts on YouTube would have stood him in good stead. I give Kimbo kudos for wanting to fight for real instead of for show, but it looks like he just isn't cut out for mixed martial arts.

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