I keep hearing people harp on the fact that Kimbo Slice is main eventing the first ever major network MMA broadcast despite a somewhat dubious background and questionable current skill set. I don't think that the fans who are down on the idea have their hearts in the wrong place. But I am positive that the same can not be said for their heads.
Earlier Jerret Anderson posted on BloodyElbow a number of reasons that Dana White is Vince McMahon. To keep the pro wrestling comparisons coming I'd pose that at this point Kimbo Slice is Hulk Hogan. Anyone who knows wrestling knows that Hulk Hogan has probably never in his career been the best worker on a card. Yet, he has almost always been in the main event position. The reason for this is simple. You place your biggest draw in the main event position. Especially when it comes to shows on free television.
If you ever turn on a professional wrestling show you'll notice that the biggest draw the promotion has available will always be involved in one of the final segments of the show. It was true with Hogan, it was true with Steve Austin, it was true with Bill Goldberg, it was true with The Rock...etc. The reason for this is simple, many people will simply change the channel once the big name is done. There are quarter hour breakdowns for shows that can prove this point beyond a shadow of a doubt. Were EXC to put Kimbo on at the mid-way point of the card you would see quarter hour breakdowns that show a significant drop off in viewers after his fight completes. I can almost guarantee that when we see the quarter hour breakdowns after the event we'll see a major spike in viewers toward the last half hour, this is going to be the true measure of Kimbo's drawing power.
Elite XC has to look at this opportunity as a television show, not simply as "people should watch this show and see only the best technical fighters in the sport." The truth is, they need to think like a professional wrestling promotion. Open the show talking about Kimbo, midway though the show throw on an interview taped earlier in the day with Kimbo and close the show with Kimbo's fight. You want to give people a reason to stick around and watch the entire show even if they only came for Kimbo. Then during the undercard bouts really push your product. Talk about the other fighters, talk about the action in the cage, explain the sport to the uninitiated. But your meal ticket at this point is Kevin Ferguson.
This is network television folks. There is no such thing as "we don't want those kind of fans watching" and if you get into that line of thinking we're not going to see this sport continue to go more mainstream. Remember, this is America...the mainstream is by and large flat dumb.
There is a reason Hulk Hogan was on top of the wrestling world for twenty years. It had nothing to do with skill. And everything to do with tons of people wanting to watch him every single night.