After the viewing figures for the TUF 10 Finale once again proved Kimbo Slice’s ability to draw a crowd, the UFC now have, for better or worse, another blockbuster star in their midst.
The bout with Houston Alexander was a strange encounter that didn’t live up to the pre-fight hype, but then again the fight with Roy Nelson earlier in the season was also an anti-climax and ended with another defeat, and yet people still tuned in to see Kimbo Slice fight again.
The difference on this occasion was that Slice emerged victorious, and even showed the slightest glimpse that he is trying to become more than just a backyard brawler.
The reality though is that he still has an underdeveloped skill-set for the UFC. Houston Alexander was notorious for having next to no ground-game, making him a perfect opponent for Slice, but there are few other UFC fighters currently on the roster who are as one dimensional as that.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that he is now 35 years old, giving him limited time to develop, and as was revealed on the TUF show, he is now beginning to feel the effects of an arthiritic knee.
In other words, the UFC will have a hard time finding someone who Kimbo Slice actually has a chance of beating, and that leaves them with a dilemma as far as future matchmaking options goes.
So who should the UFC be looking to put him in against?
Though he admitted to having a tough time cutting to the 215lb catchweight limit set for his fight at the weekend, Slice has refused to rule out fighting at light heavyweight, so we will assess both options individually.
If he sticks at heavyweight then lurking in the lower reaches of the division are two kickboxers, Pat Barry and Antoni Hardonk, who prefer to keep the fight standing.
Unfortunately for Kimbo both hold a number of TKO victories due to leg strikes, and considering the issues with his knee, and his reluctance to check leg kicks, that doesn’t bode well for his chances against either man.
If the UFC wants to put on a fight with greater marketability then Mirko Cro Cop fits the bill. In his day Cro Cop was among the most dangerous strikers in the sport, but he has appeared a shadow of his former self in the UFC, and has admitted to suffering from a crisis of confidence in recent times.
On paper there is no way Cro Cop should lose, and there would be no great shame on Kimbo Slice if he succumbed to a legend in the sport.
On the other hand if the Croatian can’t shake off his mental problems in the octagon then Kimbo Slice may just have a window of opportunity to seize the biggest win of his brief MMA career.
What about if he moves down to light heavyweight?
Again it’s difficult to pick out fights at 205lbs that won’t overly expose his weak ground skills. Former WEC Light heavyweight champion Brian Stann stands out as a possible option in the current roster. Like Slice, is a heavy handed striker who relies primarily on his boxing skills.
If the UFC wanted to go with a more recognizable name to casual fans then perhaps TUF season 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar could step in. He is best remembered for his toe-to-toe scrap with Forrest Griffin in that seasons finale, a historic fight for the promotion, but he has struggled in recent times, with a 2-4 record in his last six outings.
The trouble with this bout is that despite his stand-up wars, Bonnar is also a genuine mixed martial artist who is comfortable on the ground, and has good submission skills.
Perhaps the best solution in the light heavyweight division would be too look outwith the present UFC roster. Slice does of course hold a notorious 14 second TKO loss to another former TUF contestant Seth Petruzelli.
The chance to avenge his first, and most embarrassing defeat in his career is known to be an appealing prospect for Slice, and as can be gleaned from the following twitter post directly after the TUF 10 finale fight, Petruzelli would be more than happy to accept the rematch.
“Ok everyone tweet @danawhite to get me back in that octagon so i can give kimbo another loss!!!!!!” – Seth Petruzelli
Of all the options mentioned this one perhaps makes the most sense. It would be an easy fight for the UFC to hype since everyone is already familiar with the storyline between the two.
Realistically it would generate as much interest as any fight they could put on, without throwing Slice in against one of their bigger, more dangerous stars.
The danger is that another loss to Petruzelli, which is a distinct possibility, would make it very difficult for the UFC to market the fighter in the future.
The truth is that whoever they put him in against, there is always going to be a good chance that he will be defeated. Unlike the EliteXC promotion however, the UFC are not relying on him winning in order to be successful, but it appears that they are happy to profit from him while they can.
Article By RossC
Pictures courtesy of sherdog.com