The Rise and Rise of Kimbo Slice

What was the biggest and the most important boxing fight held in 2013? If one asks the average person on the street, the responses will probably vary between “Klitchko-some random Russian guy”, “Mayweather – Saul Alvarez”, and some might probably mention Pacquiao’s comeback fight, in which he beat Brandon Rios. However, the real boxing enthusiasts, the ones who truly understand the noble sport, will all say without a doubt that THE fight of 2013 was “Kimbo Slice – Shane Tilyard”, which was held in January. In this fight, which Kimbo obviously won convincingly by a devastating KO in the 2nd round, Kimbo proved once again that nothing will stop him on his quest to conquer the boxing world, similarly to what he did to the MMA world only a few years earlier. No one who is in his right mind thinks it’s a coincidence that Vitali Klitchko suddenly retired to politics, and his brother Vladimir will probably follow in his footsteps very soon – no one wants to stand in Kimbo’s way… It’s Kimbo time!

This is the story about the MMA career of Kimbo Slice, one of the greatest athletes of our generation, and one of the most outstanding figures of the 21st century. A man who could have channeled his immense talent to any field of his choosing. He chose to invest it in the field of sports, thus providing millions all over the world with many moments of great joy and elation.

 

Kimbo’s entry to the world of MMA came after years of doing philanthropic work for the “Money Talks” organization. Sponsored by that company, Kimbo, always accompanied by pretty gals, used to wander the streets and hand out free money to random strangers, in exchange for small and insignificant tasks. For example – engaging in a friendly gane of american football:

Or, some friendly sparring, designed to improve the lay person’s punch-absorbing ability:

However, every voluntary work comes to an end, and Kimbo moved on quickly to what he knows best: fighting. And that was a domain he quickly made his own playground.

Now, how does one starts a career as an MMA fighter? Kimbo, in his own unique and truly modest fashion, chose not to chase the big money offered by the UFC, but to delight his fans with free fights, which were uploaded to youtube for everyone to watch and appreciate. Obviously, success was instant. Kimbo took out his opponents one after the other, and only when he decided to demonstrate that there is no such thing as an “Invincible Fighter”, not unlike Doron Sheffer, who one time during a game in the Israeli basketball league intentionally missed a free throw after hitting the previous 15, he chose to face Sean Gannon knowing fully well that he will allow Gannon to triumph over him. And indeed, Kimbo lost that fight, showing up in an inexplicable bad form and showcasing an uncharacteristical weak cardio, which was unexpected from a super-athlete like himself, whose training regimes became legendary. Only later it was discovered that Kimbo went through a sleepless night before the fight, going over the writings of Immanuel Kant and Baruch Spinoza (the originals and not the English versions of course), thus facing Gannon very fatigued and tired.

Anyway, having delighted his fans for free for a long time, the move to the official MMA organizations could not be delayed any more.

Kimbo won his first three fights in devastating fashion. For example, in his second fight he beat the UFC legend Tank Abbott in a blitzkrieg that lasted a mere 43 seconds. All of Kimbo’s fights were held in the EliteXC, where Kimbo was definitely the jewel in the organization’s crown. Even though EliteXC had on its roster some very high-profile fighters, such as Robbie Lawler, the aforementioned Tank Abbott, Antonio Silva, Jake Shields and Nick Diaz, Kimbo’s star shone brighter than all of them.

However, not everything was as ideal as Kimbo’s fighting skills. Using his sharp intuition, Kimbo sensed that there were some financial irregularities in the organization. And it all reached a boiling point before his fight with Seth Petruzelli. Kimbo found out that Petruzelli (who stepped in for the injured Ken Shamrock), a mediocre fighter to say the least, was offered a large amount of money in return for him promising that he won’t try to take Kimbo down and instead will try to beat him only in the stand-up game. Kimbo was furious with this discovery and with the fact that his ground game was being disrespected like that. It was the last straw for Kimbo, and he decided he will bring down this corrupted organization.

After reading Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, Kimbe decided what course of action he will take, and he implemented it beautifully. 14 seconds after the start of the fight, Kimbo allowed Petruzelli to hit him with several punches, and pretended that he was knocked out cold, so the referee would stop the fight. The loss was received as a shock in the MMA community, since Kimbo didn’t tell anyone about his plan. But the fact is that the plan worked. The whole thing about the money that was offered to Petruzelli was discovered, and an investigation about the dubious financial operations of the organization led to its eventual collapse. Kimbo won in yet another war.

However, now that the organization – which after all has been his home – collapsed, a question remained – what will become of Kimbo? The MMA fighter, who was considered as one of the top “Pound For Pound” fighters in the world, was left without a place to showcase his talents.

And this is where the UFC comes into our story. For a long time, UFC president Dana White refused to allow Kimbo fight in his organization, probably because of his fear that Kimbo will take over the heavyweight division, which was being ruled back then by Dana’s favorite – Brock Lesnar, and also because of his fear that Kimbo’s immense popularity will overshadow the UFC’s top drawing stars – Lesnar and Georges St. Pierre. However, the circumstances were such that Dana couldn’t ignore Kimbo any further. And so, he allowed him the opportunity to get into the UFC by participating in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).

Such a condition might surely be seen as an insult. Instead of entering the organization through the front door, like a true king, Kimbo was forced to use the back door with the rest of the servants. However, like so many great historical figures from the past, Kimbo put his pride aside and agreed to take part in the show.

With his dazzling good looks – a bald head coupled a thick black beard, half of his chest shaved and donning a spider tattoo on it, accompanied by his great popularity and an immense skill-set which rendered him as the most complete fighter of all the participants on the show, Kimbo was by right the star of the show. Thus, no eyebrows were raised when coach Rampage Jackson selected him as his first pick, and Kimbo joined his team as the leader to-be.

Right from the start of TUF, Rashad Evans, who coached opposite Rampage, expressed doubts regarding Kimbo’s fighting abilities, which probably stemmed from the fact that Rashad himself was pretty much a one-dimensional fighter. He decided to eliminate Kimbo from the show by scheduling him to fight Roy Nelson in the first round of elimination. Kimbo accepted the challenge and made the appropriate preparations. He trained very hard, and was the hot favorite of anyone who knows anything about MMA, including all the major pundits. However, the victory, which seemed to be guaranteed, was not meant to happen.

During his stay on the show, Kimbo realized that he won’t prove anything by winning the whole thing. I mean, it was widely known that he was THE fighter of that season, he possessed the best all-around skills and was the favorite by far to win the show. His entry to the UFC was guaranteed regardless, based on his previous accomplishments. Therefore, he decided that it wouldn’t be fair to all the younger and less-experienced fighters on the show. It would be injustice to prevent one of the less-privileged guys the guaranteed UFC contract that awaited the winner, and claim it to himself. It would be similar to Usain Bolt competing in the 100m event at a high schools meeting. He decided that instead he will make it his aim to help those other fighters, to be a mentor, to let them learn from his vast experience and his wisdom. Once again Kimbo showed his greatness by transcending simple worldly pleasures.

Thus, in the fight with Roy Nelson we didn’t get to see the usual, legendary, Kimbo. Instead, it was the anemic Kimbo, who allowed his friend, in the most noble of acts, to beat him. This is why Kimbo didn’t show any resistance when Nelson put him in the crucifix position. Anyone who ever saw Kimbo train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu recognized instantly that this is an ideal position for him, because from here he had a clear way to the Arm Triangle choke from the bottom, a move which Kimbo is credited with inventing. However, Kimbo allowed Nelson to punch him again and again, until the referee stepped in and stopped the fight, declaring Nelson the winner. Not surprisingly, this episode was the most watched episode of the TUF 10 season.

During the remainder of the season Kimbo continued to be the star of the show, and, as expected, he was given a fight on the show’s finale main card. His opponent was Houston Alexander, a fighter with a wealth of experience, but not on the same level as Kimbo. Alexander knew this, and so he employed a dirty tactic during the fight, with his goal being to unnerve the great fighter. When he circled around Kimbo during the whole first round it was weird. In the second round it became annoying. And in the third round it became insufferable.

But Kimbo is not the man to fall for these kinds of games. With the peace of mind of a samurai warrior, he stood up to all of Alexander’s attempts to unnerve him, and he smote him hip and thigh in every chance he got. In addition, Kimbo showcased his wrestling skillz, which some pundits say could have earned him an Olympic berth in London, when he took Alexander down several times in spectacular fashion. Such highlight-reel takedowns were never seen since, and it’s doubtful we’ll ever get to see them again.

Alexander managed to escape a defeat by KO, but the judges were unanimous in awarding Kimbo a victory by decision. Still, the fans were left with a bitter taste because of Alexander’s antics, which prevented us from seeing an end to the fight, an end which surely would have earned the “Knockout Of The Night” award.

So yes, Kimbo won his first fight in the UFC, and the road to the heavyweight title was clear before him. Lesnar knew that he wouldn’t be able to hold on to the belt for much longer. The fans urged Dana White to let Kimbo fight for the title against Lesnar, but Dana kept sidestepping the subject by claiming that Kimbo “isn’t ready”. It seemed that he forgot that Lesnar himself got a title fight after exactly 1 win in the UFC , 3 professional fight overall, and a much worse record than Kimbo.

Kimbo’s next fight was scheduled for May 8th, 2010, UFC 113, against Matt Mitrione, a fellow member of the TUF 10 season. Everything was ready for another Kimbo victory, this time more spectacular than ever. However, the fans were in for a disappointment. Kimbo was busy making the necessary preparations for the fight, when he was informed that the committee for his PhD in molecular biology was to be assembled on the very same date. Shocked and amazed, Kimbo asked Dana to postpone the fight. However, Dana smelled an opportunity to get revenge on the UFC’s most popular fighter, and refused the request. And so, because higher education was always Kimbo’s top priority, he decided that he will first and foremost dedicate his time to prepare for the committee which will decide his academic future, and the time that will be left will be used to prepare for the fight.

The plan worked partially. Kimbo passed the committee in brilliant fashion, without any problems whatsoever, but the academic preparation took its toll and he barely had time to prepare for the fight. Nevertheless, Kimbo fought bravely and valiantly, and succumbed to Mitrione only near the end of the second round, not before Mitrione used some dirty (albeit legal) tactics. Despite that, Kimbo was very close to victory, and we can say without a doubt that if he had the opportunity to prepare adequately for the fight – he would have done to Mitrione what the inquisition had done do the jews several centuries ago, and he would have added another W to his record. The big scandal erupted after the fight, when Dana announced that Kimbo will be cut from the organization. This announcement came out of the blue, and no one could understand the logic behind it. Kimbo was furious. Dana’s unfair conduct regarding the title fight was still fresh in his memory, and now he was being cut from the organization after a single loss, which was, as everyone knew, the result of unnatural circumstances.

Some say that Kimbo lost his faith in humanity as a result of the fight and its aftermath. But those are only rumors. What is known for sure is that he lost completely his interest in MMA. Here comes a phenomenal fighter, who has the potential to become the greatest fighter of all-time, but he is denied this opportunity because of the ego games of the head of the organization he fights in. This was definitely too much for the always-honest Kimbo, and he decided to hang his MMA gloves.

However, that does not mean his legacy is forgotten. Every MMA fan who had the privilege of watching this noble savage fight knows that he was truly blessed. People have named him the Michael Jordan of MMA, but it was clear that if he kept fighting for several more years, people would say that Jordan is the Kimbo of basketball. There has never been a fighter who mastered all the aspects of modern MMA in such complete fashion like Kimbo Slice. However, like all good things, his fighting career didn’t last long.

Of course, this was not the end of Kimbo. Following his retirement from the world of MMA, Kimbo took up another ambitious project – to revive the dying sport of boxing. On his massive and muscular shoulders he hoisted the fate of an entire sport, which for the past several years has been lagging behind the MMA in terms of popularity. Some think that this is also his way of getting back at Dana White. So far the whole thing seems promising. He had his debut fight was in August of 2011. And he obviously won it by knockout. Two years later, Kimbo already holds a 7-0 record, with all his fights but one ending in devastating KO’s. So yes, so far the plan is working perfectly.

So now we are left to see what else is in store for the man with the beard. How far will he go in the world of boxing? Will Dana, in a desperate attempt, will ask him for forgiveness and try to persuade him to come back to the UFC for a fight with the organization’s heavyweight champion, a fight which will shatter all known PPV records? And more importantly – will Kimbo agree to that offer? Most of us probably think that we wouldn’t have accepted it, if we were similarly insulted in the past by Dana. But there is a chance that Kimbo won’t act like the rest of us and will sign the contract. We must remember that we are dealing here not only with a great athlete, but also with a great personality.

What will he decide to do after that? Nobody knows. He might set his eyes on the Noble Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Or he might decide to publish his memoirs in a thick volume. Another possible option is that he might try to bring peace to the middle east – Kimbo himself hinted in past interviews that he thinks this is possible. What is known for sure is that the man has been gifted with the golden touch of king Midas, and that he will surely be successful in whatever domain he chooses – as the linguistic novelties he introduced in his many interviews can testify.

Good luck, Kimbo. We, the MMA fans, will never forget your huge contribution to the sport we love.

All the best!

Half man, half legend - Kimbo Slice!

Half man, half legend – Kimbo Slice!

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I wrote this text in December of 2013. Since then, Kimbo decided that he will not pursue a career in boxing, as a favor to his great friend Floyd Mayweather Jr., who feared that Kimbo’s success and fame will put his own in its shade. Instead, Kimbo decided, in a dramatic turn of events, to resume his MMA career.

However, he chose not to sign with the UFC. Instead, it was Bellator who was fortunate enough to secure his services. To the crestfallen fans, who expressed their disappointment with the fact that Kimbo won’t be fighting the likes of Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, Kimbo explained that his choice was motivated by the fact that he didn’t like the way UFC was going – absorbing all the competing organizations – PRIDE, WEC, Strikeforce. Kimbo said he wanted to tilt the balance a bit, and that this was his social duty.

So now we are all waiting for Kimbo’s debut. It is a no-brainer that he will become Bellator’s heavyweight champion. But can he succeed in his other mission – to dethrone the UFC from its pedestal as the number one MMA organization in the world? Haters would say that this is impossible. But haters don’t know Kimbo the way we do…

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