As of Saturday, Kimbo Slice, the world’s first -- and hopefully only -- YouTube-groomed fighter, made his final exit from the Octagon gates of the UFC. He looked mediocre in three fights, outpointing only Houston Alexander in a bout that didn’t inspire confidence. If there was any debate that training at American Top Team and taking things seriously would show us something new, losing to a 1-0 Matt Mitrione would be the end of it.
Except it isn’t. Fighting is as much about audience investment as results, which is why you will always find a fight involving your father or brother far more compelling than one involving Rich Franklin. "Tank" Abbott, a fighter with better wrestling than Slice but atrocious conditioning, commanded six-figure paydays well into his two-figure losses. He promised a fight. In an era where an undisputed champion like Anderson Silva can’t make the same guarantee, this is a valuable trait.
Slice is employable. The only question is what he gets hired to do.
Strikeforce’s Scott Coker told Sherdog Radio that he was lukewarm to the idea of bringing in Slice, likely for reasons relating to his pay scale -- which you’d think would be reduced after poor performances -- and an unspoken but assumed concern that Coker’s promotion would be home for the UFC’s discards. While that’s hardly good for their reputation, neither is middling ratings.
Audiences are already aware Slice is not a contender, so having that point re-addressed with a failed UFC bid is not a crippling affliction. Slice fighting Herschel Walker or even (God help me even as I type this) Jose Canseco would not cause the earth to open up and brimstone to consume us. Fighting is about entertainment. Strikeforce is already operating at a deficit of most top contenders, so why pretend otherwise? Sign him. Give him nothing fights that mean something for the 15 minutes they’re contested. Ship him to Japan and let Kazushi Sakuraba try to ankle-pick him.
These are just fights for a fight’s sake. When did that become such a politically incorrect thing to do?