Kimbo Slice, right, fights James Thompson

Is Kimbo Helping MMA?

June 03, 2008 01:58 PM
by Denis Cummings
Kimbo Slice was expected to take mixed martial arts into the mainstream, but after his unconvincing win in MMA’s network television debut, many are wondering if he'll do more harm than good.

30-Second Summary

Kimbo Slice, a street fighting Internet star, headlined Saturday’s five-fight EliteXC: Primetime, the first MMA event to be broadcast on network television.

Matched against James Thompson—a tomato can with a cauliflower ear—Kimbo was expected to score a quick knockout. However, he spent much of the fight on his back and needed a controversial third round TKO —called when Thompson’s ear ruptured—to win.

The show was a ratings success for CBS, attracting the coveted 18–34 male demographic. CBS will likely air another MMA event in the late summer.

MMA has developed a devoted following, primarily due to the Ultimate Fighting Championship competition. Important UFC fights, however, are available only on pay-per-view and the sport has some difficulty attracting new fans.

Many MMA fans and insiders hoped that EliteXC would expose MMA to a larger audience and bring the one-time underground sport into the mainstream. Instead, they saw an over-the-top, WWE-type spectacle with poor-quality fights.

This is not MMA,” writes Brian Argabright of the Del Rio News-Herald. “This is a circus and Kimbo is the main event.”

Others are more optimistic about the event, arguing that the large audience exposure will help the sport grow. “As frustrating as this was for many who love the sport, I don’t buy the argument that the card was a big negative for MMA,” writes Yahoo’s Dan Wenzel. “Yes its credibility was hurt with old media and some skeptics, but many potential fans were exposed to it for the first time.”

Headline Link: Kimbo wins by third-round TKO

Video: Fight replay

Reactions: CBS likely to air a second event; Dana White responds

Background: The importance of network television

Opinion & Analysis: Did Saturday help or hurt MMA?

Key Players: Kimbo Slice

Reference: MMA guide


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