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The heat-up for Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson tonight

By Zach Arnold | September 30, 2009

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By far the most media coverage for The Ultimate Fighter, tonight’s fight between the former Elite XC ace and the former IFL champion will no doubt draw a rating in the 2’s like the first two shows have. The question is — just how big could the rating get? A secondary question is whether or not the fight could draw a higher rating than RAW did on Monday. If that happens, you will never hear the end of it on message boards and blogs. I have to give credit to Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press who does a great job writing about MMA.

Kimbo made the ‘car wash’ of media rounds on Monday and Tuesday. He’s gotten ink in the Philadelphia Daily News, ESPN, The Boston Herald, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and The Las Vegas Sun. I had to laugh at this headline: Black Israelites Herald the Rise of Kimbo Slice.

Here’s Rashad Evans doing the hard sell for tonight’s fight. He’s continuing to push the “Roy Nelson needs discipline” train of thought here.

Over at, Jonathan Snowden takes a look at Kimbo’s life story. Worth reading.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 26 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

26 Responses to “The heat-up for Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson tonight”

  1. Steve4192 says:

    “will no doubt draw a rating in the 2’s like the first two shows have”

    IIRC, the first two shows drew a 4.1 and a 2.9 rating. If it draws in the twos, the episode will be considered a massive disappointment. I think they are looking to top the season opening number and get deep into the fours.

    Ed. — The first two shows drew 2.9 and 2.2 cable ratings, respectively, significantly higher than the typical 1.2 ~ 1.4 the show did in past seasons. If Kimbo vs. Nelson does higher than a 3, cartwheels. If it does higher than RAW (which is usually in the 3.4 ~ 3.8 range), look out.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    The UFC has done a better job at promoting this one episode of TUF then the IFL, Affliction, EliteXC, and Strikeforce dd for their normal cards combined.

  3. Jonathan Snowden says:

    The push has been amazing. Let’s give some credit to SPIKE TV as well. The Kimbo interviews with the online and print media were arranged through them and they did a greta job of getting the word out.

    I don’t tend to cheerlead for the stuff I write about, but I am legitimately excited to see this fight!

  4. ttt says:

    i hope the “success” of tonight’s episode will not “inspire” many more seasons of this tired concept

  5. Ultimo Santa says:

    @ 45 – that’s true, but let’s get serious: every mainstream media outlet calls MMA ‘Ultimate Fighting’. It’s not like Strikeforce is well known enough to get media pickup like a Dana White or the UFC.

    I think word of mouth has done just as much for this season of TUF. Everyone wanted to see Kimbo in ‘the show’ and now they’re getting it.

    Interesting side note: over at Sherdog, the new poll is ‘Who will win tonight, Nelson or Slice?’

    Of 5195 people, only 55% think Nelson will win. That number tells me that a) people don’t care about the embarrassing 14-second loss to Petruzelli, b) the YouTube generation still marks out for Kimbo, and c) very few people know how good Nelson is.

  6. The Gaijin says:

    d) all of the above.

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    I agree that TUF is a tired concept. This season has made it feel fresh again, but I can’t imagine it being better next season. This is likely it’s last big season. I would prefer a weekly show instead.

  8. Mark says:

    Lots of people who are Kimbo fans are new to the sport and cannot fathom how a doughboy like Nelson could possibly beat a bad ass like Kimbo: it would be like Chris Farley kicking Mr. T’s ass in their minds. Kimbo’s appeal is purely cosmetic. That’s why nobody who liked him was ever disappointed with his piss-easy fight schedule in Elite, they just want to believe in his myth and don’t care if he can’t beat the top competition. Some people like the idea much more of a guy who looks like an action movie star beating cans more than a guy who looks completely non-threatening like Georges St. Pierre being the real bad ass. Seeing Kimbo get destroyed is going to be like when they found out Santa Claus was really their parents for some of them. Others won’t care and continue to be fans.

    As for the rating, Dana is on record saying the fight (not the whole show) will do 6 million, and that’s probably about right. Tying Raw’s 3.4 average isn’t impossible. But then what? This is the only thing people care about this season. After Kimbo is gone (unless they bring him back if someone is hurt which would feel like a total work) why would the new viewers continue to watch? It could go back down to its usual high 1’s numbers after this week. Especially with the Rampage-Jackson fight being called off being common knowledge there is no other hook to keep viewers.

  9. Ivan Trembow says:

    In this interview on AOL Fanhouse yesterday, Dana White reaffirms his earlier statements that Kimbo would have to WIN The Ultimate Fighter in order to be in the UFC (

    “Ariel Helwani: Back to TUF, I remember seeing you on SportsCenter the day after Kimbo beat James Thompson on CBS, and you were talking about how this was a bad moment for the sport. Does it feel weird for you to now be promoting a Kimbo Slice fight?
    Dana White: No. Let me tell you what: when I woke up one Saturday morning and was watching ESPN, and they were comparing this guy to Muhammad Ali, that was what was killing me. People would ask me if he was going to get into the UFC, and I said the only way this guy will get in the UFC is if he went on The Ultimate Fighter and won it. I respect him very much that he took the challenge and is going to do it.”

    And yet Dana White also told the L.A. Times Blog last week, “Are you going to see Kimbo Slice fight again in the UFC? Yes,” which was followed by this hilarious tidbit: “Asked if that was a decision based on the first episode’s ratings, White said: “No, never. The ratings do not influence our decision. The guy can either fight or not.” (this explains Junie Browning’s continued employment)

    So, either the UFC just spoiled TUF and revealed that Kimbo made it to the finals of the 16-man tournament, or the whole notion of Kimbo having to actually win TUF to prove himself as a UFC fighter was just a con-game from the beginning, as many people said from the minute his participation on TUF was announced with that stipulation.

  10. Ultimo Santa says:

    @ The Gaijin: LOL…yeah, d) for sure.

    @ Mark: “Chris Farley kicking Mr. T’s ass”? I don’t think 99% of Kimbo’s are old enough to know who either of those guys are.

    @ 45: I don’t think we need *either* a TUF show or a weekly show. I think Spike TV could run an ‘Inside MMA’ style show but exclusively for the UFC once a week, and it would do good numbers. Probably better than most original programming on Spike anyway.

    I still think TUF is a great way to weed out the guys who think they can easily glide into the UFC from football or some other sport, and it’s excellent for getting young talent noticed.

  11. 45 Huddle says:

    I agree that TUF is a great way of weeding out the talent. It is also great at finding the needles in a haystack that likely wouldn’t have been found as quickly without the show.

    Is there another way to get that same result without the reality format?

    To me, I wouldn’t mind seeing the UFC do a Neo-Blood style tournament for newcomers. Once TUF runs its course, do an 8 or 16 man tournament over the course of a year in each weight class. Put the fights on SpikeTV. Have a yearly champion that then gets a heavier push, just like the TUF guys….

  12. Mark says:

    Your tournament idea is TUF without the reality show portion. The problem isn’t that nobody likes the reality show aspects, it’s that the MMA talent pool is so much more shallow than it was in the show’s 2005-06 heyday due to most talented fighters not with the UFC having a contract elsewhere, whereas the original 3 casts were made up of basically free agents. The tournaments are still going to consist of the same “guys with 2 pro fights versus a guy with 10 pro fights” problem that makes for forgone conclusions. And for instance with this season, if you turned it into a tournament with Kimbo, Nelson and Sims removed it would be nearly totally unwatchable.

    I say take the timeslot and turn it into a weekly version of UFC Sportscenter: rundown news, get comments, visit fighters at their training camps. Surely you can get a hour a week of stuff MMA fans would tune in for.

  13. 45 Huddle says:

    They would have to pay more for those fighters. You offer a stronger payday to the winner of the tournament, and it can work. But your idea of a different type of weekly program could work too. Sooooo many good ways to do it. Just end TUF after 10 and do it on an end note…. That will make 5 years, 10 seasons…. perfect way to end it.

  14. Fluyid says:

    Kimbo must really do well against Nelson. I don’t think they’d be publicizing it as much if he got totally destroyed. He must have lost after putting forth a good effort.

  15. ttt says:

    dana’s pushing kimbo hardddddd
    i didn’t really think it was necessary to diss Roy Nelson, i thought we were trying to build up legitimate heavyweights here?

  16. Ivan Trembow says:

    What a joke. So THAT is the fight that made Lorenzo Fertitta tell the L.A. Times Blog last week, “We’ve been very impressed with Kimbo’s performance”?

    And that’s the fight that made Dana White tell the L.A. Times Blog last week, “Are you going to see Kimbo Slice fight again in the UFC? Yes” as well as “The ratings do not influence our decision. The guy can either fight or not.”

    THAT is the fight that led to Fertitta and White making those comments?

    I was surprised to see the fight go that way, given Fertitta and White’s public statements. What’s not surprising at all is White’s child-like behavior when his favored fighter lost. “Roy Nelson did just enough to win!” Really? Because it sure seemed like he shut down and TKO’ed the fighter around whom White built a whole season of The Ultimate Fighter.

    Of course, whether or not he got TKO’ed in his fight first isn’t what really matters, right? It’s the ratings. UFC and Spike TV have gone from publicly mocking Kimbo’s ratings-drawing power in press releases and public statements when he was fighting for EliteXC, to fully using that ratings-drawing power for themselves, even though he’s still not actually much of a fighter.

    So, what’s the over/under on how much money it would be worth for the UFC if one of the other contestants on the show just happened to come down with an injury that caused them to have to withdraw from the competition, which just might lead to someone coming back (like, I don’t know, maybe Kimbo Slice). Let the “farce” continue.

  17. Fluyid says:

    That was a shit fight.

  18. Chuck says:

    Kimbo looked awful. Even in the beginning of the second round, when Kimbo was actually starting to throw punches, he missed basically everything and Nelson dodged everything that Kimbo could have landed. Sure, Nelson didn’t look particularly impressive, but so what? He won in dominant fashion.

    We should sue for false advertisement, for what Dana and Lorenzo said about the fight.

  19. Alan Conceicao says:

    The post fight reaction is already the greatest thing ever. It seems to be, “Wow, Kimbo is shitty….but look how well Dana White sold us shit! Yeah!”

    You couldn’t ask for better comedy tonight.

  20. spacedog says:

    Unimpressed with Roy. For a guy that thinks the UF should be handed to him of a platter he sure did a whole lotta nothing. One sub attempt, minimal damage, and two rounds to finish a guy that any of the mid to top tier UFC guys would walk through. Frank Mir would KO Kimbo on his feet.

  21. Ivan Trembow says:

    The biggest farce of all is the fact that Kimbo is still going to be a UFC fighter in the future, despite that performance, despite the Petruzelli performance, despite the UFC’s previous stipulation that he’d only be a UFC fighter if he WON The Ultimate Fighter… but, by the way, they don’t push un-talented fighters for ratings.

  22. Fluyid says:

    “The biggest farce of all is the fact that Kimbo is still going to be a UFC fighter in the future…”

    And, unless he wins this TUF, Nelson won’t have a notable future in the UFC.

  23. Chuck says:


    Excellent point. Dana fooled a lot of people (not me, but I still watched anyway, and got almost exactly what I was expecting).

    Pure pro wrestling style carny TRASH! And I LOVE IT!!!!

    Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the carniest of them all? Is it Dana White, McMahon family (dating back to Vince’s grand daddy, Roderick McMahon, aka “Jess”), Toots Mondt, Roland Alexander, Dennis Coraluzzo, Don King, everyone involved with Primo Carnera, Gary Shaw, Verne Gagne, etc.?

  24. Fluyid says:

    “This fight is very exciting. This is probably, I would say, not hands down, but pound-for-pound a good fight, one of my best fights…I was impressed with my performance. I was impressed with everything.”

    – Kimbo

  25. Ivan Trembow says:

    I also want to make clear the same thing that I made clear during Kimbo’s EliteXC days, which is that I have nothing against Kimbo personally; he has just taken the opportunities that have been given to him. The problem is the con-men who have pushed Kimbo far more than his talent has warranted, from the beginning of his career to now and well into his future career in the UFC.

  26. Fluyid says:

    I don’t think anyone can fault or dislike Kevin Ferguson, but this Kimbo hype is insane.


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