Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Josh's Corner: Don't blame Kimbo Slice

Our Los Angeles correspondent Josh Garcia is back with an excellent column on Kimbo Slice's recent defeat. For more of Josh's posts, click here.

We live in the age of "TMI," too much information. There is a hype machine that uses buzz, spin and bias to create the household name. For MMA fans, and some casual sports fans, it was Kimbo Slice.

We’ve all seen the Internet videos of him fighting in the backyard, or by boats, or in a gym, or even in the cage. I think everyone can agree on one thing; we wouldn’t want to fight Kimbo or be around when he’s mad. But the hype that was created by CBS and Elite XC for Kimbo was making it seem like he’s the best fighter in the world. This 3-0 fighter who has fought a 45 yr old Tank Abbott, and a guy who had floppy ear-itis.

Now I hate to use a pro wrestling analogy but it was sort of like Kimbo Slice was being put up against - dare I say - “jobbers.” Someone that the execs knew Kimbo could beat. In wrestling they usually had regular names like Rusty Brooks, Kevin Reno or Jim Starr, and they were usually already waiting in the ring and didn’t get any entrance music. I remember lots of mullets too but that was just the times. It was a mullet era in the WWE. That’s sort of how they picked Kimbo’s opponents.

Ken Shamrock, who was supposed to fight him on Saturday, used to be one of the wrestlers. He wasn’t quite a jobber but he wasn’t that far from it during most of his career. But most people know Ken from his other career, MMA. The “World’s Most Dangerous Man” had been knocked out in his last 5 MMA fights spanning from 2005 to 2008. So to clarify: he hadn’t lost these five previous fights by decision, they were all by knock out. That seems like a perfect opponent for Kimbo who loves to brawl and deliver knock outs, almost too perfect. So perfect that it’s a little bit fishy.

Only Shamrock got cut practicing and couldn’t fight. Uh oh, CBS’ big night is not looking so hot. At least people had heard of Ken Shamrock, whether it was through UFC, Pride or WWE, he was a known fighter. So when he went down and CBS had to scramble to find a fighter. It was almost Ken’s brother Frank who had to step in but he was announcing the fight as the analyst along with Gus Johnson. So who fights Kimbo? Which unlucky fool is going to get that call. You want to come down here and fight Kimbo Slice? It happened to be a pink haired nobody named Seth Petruzelli. Yeah I said the same thing you’re thinking, who? It gets worse, the fight is over in 15 seconds and your left with a hallucinogenic feeling afterwards. I didn’t believe what I just saw and it was in HD so I knew it was real. That really just happened, so unfulfilling.

Kimbo Slice got knocked out in 15 seconds, didn’t throw a punch, and worst of all to a guy that isn’t known and has pink hair?

Is Kimbo just going to vanish as a flash in the pan? The hype machine is a snow balling effect on someone’s name. It’s the folk tale that gets bigger with every telling in a different town. It’s not just in sports, it's in everything. The whole world of information, right or wrong, is a Google-second away. We still have the 15 minutes of fame only to build them up for 8 minutes and watch them fail for the last 7. People love to see people make it but they love to see them fall and fail just as much.

We were all misled, supposed to think that Kimbo was this unbeatable. I remember seeing him, he was just standing there in the middle of the sidewalk and as I passed him I flinched. OK, to be honest I quivered like a Chihuahua in the rain. It’s not that he’s scary its just I’ve seen what he did to that one guy’s eye. It looked like a grenade went off inside. I guess I never thought that he could just be a cool guy with a family just trying to make money to support them.

Don’t be mad at Kimbo Slice for making $500,000 for 14 seconds of work. Don’t be mad at Kimbo Slice for being knocked out by a guy you’ve never heard of. Be mad at CBS and Elite XC for their hype machine.

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