One of the more anticipated bouts of the evening for many of the casual fans will be the showdown between Youtube sensation and former street brawler Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson (3-1) and the heavy-handed Houston Alexander (9-4, 2-3 UFC). Kimbo's rise to fame from his street fighting videos on Youtube gave him enough drawing power for EliteXC to infamously use him as their headlining fighter on a number of events, but the real test came after EliteXC's demise and the UFC's decision to bank on that popularity while simultaneously giving Kimbo the ultimate test as to whether he could truly be a mixed martial artist.
Unfortunately for Kimbo, he had to take on the show's favorite Roy Nelson in his first bout on The Ultimate Fighter and lost via TKO. The following weeks were filled with the drama of whether or not Kimbo would fight again on the show, and as we saw last night -- the opportunity finally presented itself, but Kimbo turned down the fight due to nagging arthritis in his knee.
Following the loss and the show, Kimbo has made his way to American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. The move is obviously a good one since American Top Team houses some of the best fighters in the UFC and in the world, and they should be able to mold him into a fighter that's at least competent on the ground in defending some of the positions he found himself in during the taping of The Ultimate Fighter. Will it be enough to actually give him a chance at defeating Houston Alexander? I doubt we'll see much ground work in this fight, but maybe Kimbo is banking on that.
A lot of fans are calling foul regarding the reports out of American Top Team that Kimbo will show improvement, and while I don't really buy it -- I'm a bit more focused on the task at hand, Houston Alexander. After all, styles make fights, and Houston's losing streak in the UFC really relied on his inabilities on the ground more than anything. I highly doubt Kimbo is going to present a ground threat to Houston. Striking-wise, I've never been impressed with Kimbo's form or power either, but Houston doesn't exactly have the stiffest chin on Earth. I suppose Kimbo has a decent shot at tagging Houston and ending his night, but I'm not confident in that result.
The problem I see for Kimbo is in Houston's improvement over the last year. While we can't take a whole lot from the Sherman Pendergarst bout at Adrenaline IV this year in which Houston completely demolished the "Sherman Tank", Alexander did look much quicker, used heavy leg kicks to set up his punches, and seemed to be a little more patient in his approach than what we've seen in his UFC battles. That approach will easily win him this fight as Kimbo will have to wade through those kicks to get within striking distance, and I think Houston's quickness will be a key to his success.
I think this is Houston Alexander's fight to lose. While Kimbo might present some danger in the striking department, a gameplan that is molded to stay patient, use kicks at a distance, and set up the punches with those kicks should prove to be Kimbo's kryptonite in this fight. I don't think we'll see much improvement from Kimbo, but I'm open to a surprise. Houston should take this fight via TKO.