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Kimbo Slice interview on 9/25 edition of PTI (ESPN)

By Zach Arnold | September 25, 2008

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Audio link here.

This was not a good interview at the beginning, even with Dan Le Batard asking most of the questions. It improved a little bit towards the middle with Kimbo doing his best Dusty Rhodes impersonation as a common man.

“James Thompson fought in Pancrase over in Japan.” “He has a good chin.” This was in response to the question, “Did your aura take a hit?”

If the point of this interview was to promote the upcoming fight with Ken Shamrock, it was not good at all. In fact, it was the complete opposite of the kind of job that Ken Shamrock does in media interviews when he is busy putting over a fight he’s involved with. If the purpose of today’s interview, however, was to put Kimbo Slice over in hopes that he alone will attract ratings on CBS, then the jury will be out on that. I would not be very happy if I was an Elite XC official as far as how this interview went. They probably are wishing that Ken was the one who had the PTI spot, instead, after seeing today’s interview performance.

Update: Luke Thomas has a strong opinion about this interview. I completely disagree with his assessment and the assessment of others about the interview.

1) You knew going into the interview what Tony Kornheiser thought of MMA. Just like any politician walking into an interview with certain US TV personalities, you have to know what you are getting into ahead of time.

2) You have to act professional and represent yourself in the right manner at all times. That includes not swearing during a 10-minute sit-down interview that’s edited for television.

3) Your job, as a fighter, is to put over the fight you are involved in and put over the promotion you are working for. That’s called doing business. Kimbo Slice did a lousy job of hyping his fight against Ken Shamrock in Florida. Yes, the scenario presented to him involved a wide array of questions that had nothing to do with his fight. Therefore, you have to stay on message as a fighter and be able to take what is given to you and be able to center everything back to what your motive is for doing the interview in the first place. The irony is that Ken Shamrock, who Kimbo is facing in Florida, is the absolute master of handling PR for a fight.

4) Elite XC, if they are going to set up PR for their fighters, needs to have their handlers (if they have any) do a significantly better job of smartening up their employees on how to promote fights rather than having the fighters simply promote themselves. Besides the Kimbo PTI interview, you also had a media flood of Gina Carano interviews and very little about her upcoming fight against Kelly Kobold-Gavin was discussed. Again, a totally missed opportunity to put over a) their upcoming Florida show and b) to actually promote a fight on the card.

Topics: Media, MMA, Pro Elite, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

8 Responses to “Kimbo Slice interview on 9/25 edition of PTI (ESPN)”

  1. Ivan Trembow says:

    I agree with you about all of us knowing Tony Kornheiser’s feelings on MMA before the interview ever took place. And the fact that he’s not a fan should surprise no one. He’s 60 years old, and MMA draws horrible ratings in the 50+ demographics. At least now he knows enough about it to acknowledge that it’s an accepted sport that he is simply not a fan of. That’s more than be said of a lot of people in the mainstream media.

    As for Ken Shamrock being on the show instead, I don’t know that they would have even been interested. One thing that was clear from watching Ferguson on both PTI and Jimmy Kimmel Live on Thursday is that neither Kornheiser nor Kimmel had any idea who Ken Shamrock is. Kornheiser stumbled over the name a little bit and said, “I want to make sure I get the name right,” and yet he knew enough about Kimbo to know that he’s a big celebrity. On Jimmy Kimmel, Kimbo was billed as fighting “someone named Ken Shamrock” on the EliteXC show on CBS. This is someone who was in a fight that is still the highest-rated in MMA history in the US, and was also part of a fight whose PPV buyrate is still #2 in MMA history, yet to Kornheiser and Kimmel (ie, people who don’t follow MMA), he was no different than any other opponent for Ferguson.

    It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s still just a matter of time before someone trying to become “the next Kimbo Slice” gets seriously injured (or seriously injures someone else) while trying to become “street-certified” and get a big-money job with a big MMA promotion by having themselves video-taped in illegal street fights.

  2. IceMuncher says:

    Kimbo’s got a rather bland personality. I’m sure EliteXC wishes he was half as interesting as he looks.

  3. MMA Game says:

    I have no idea what Luke Thomas is getting his knickers in a twist about – I didn’t see a single ounce of disrespect from either interviewer, far from it infact.

    Look, the guy doesn’t like MMA, he doesn’t know anything about MMA – that really isn’t a problem – not everyone has to and Luke Thomas needs to get off his high horse and stop being so flipping precious.

    What does he want him to ask??? “Mr Slice, have you been working on your far side armbar technique?” The dude doesn’t have a clue but that doesn’t make him disrespectful! Jesus.

    Aside from the interviewers being clueless, you have to think about the audience too – how many people watching PTI will want to hear in depth MMA discussion? Like 2%? They have to give an interview that the audience will understand and want to listen to – they did… Honestly, Luke Thomas seems like he has anger issues or something. It was an interview, not an infomercial for MMA.

  4. banter says:

    whoa whoa settle down……master?


    I think you’re confusing relative competency with a real media savvy athlete

  5. David says:

    Kimbo is a cool guy… just because he isn’t silly like Rampage doesn’t mean that he is lacking a funny/cool personality!

  6. Fred says:

    That’s the huge risk that EliteXC assumed by pushing one male fighter (Kimbo). I won’t put all the blame on Kimbo. Sometimes he does give decent interviews. But, he’s not a great fighter and he’s not the most charismatic guy out there, even at his best. The only fans who really bought in the Kimbo hype in the first place are the 13-year-old Internet geeks.

    It’s not a smart business plan to put all of a promotion’s marketing apparatus behind one fighter anymore—and Kimbo is not a good choice even if a promotion does decide to take that risk. He just doesn’t have the goods.

    If they had pushed fighters like Robbie Lawler and Jake Shields, they might have had some more success; but it still would have been an uphill battle. EXC will be gone by Christmas.

  7. Bryan says:

    So you want him to hype the fact that he’s fighting a middle aged man on an impressive losing streak in MMA? Or try to paint a guy whose name the interviewers don’t even seem to know as a legend in the business?

    The people they’re trying to get with Kimbo are people that want to see a scary looking dude beat the crap out of someone.

    In that regard, it was probably a successful interview. Elite XC’s hope is that people will tune into see Kimbo beat the crap out of someone and fall in love with the sport as a result of the under card.

    How effective this will be remains to be seen. But laying it on the guy for not trying to hard sell a joke of a fight and cussing in the interview is a little over the top, imo.

  8. MMA Game says:

    Fred, if they’d tried to push the Lawler fight nobody would have cared and they wouldn’t have had the interview in the first place.


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