For something as simple as a hopeful MMA fighter appearing on The Ultimate Fighter with the intention of winning a UFC contract, the Kimbo Slice/UFC( or Dana White) story is one filled with angles of all kinds. The situation can be analyzed and re-analyzed to death. Some wonder why Kimbo would risk embarrassment against fighters with virtually no profile instead of taking large sums of money to fight in Japan or boxing under the guidance of Gary Shaw. He would likely receive some level of protection against dangerous opponents were Kimbo to go with any of the "likely" scenarios. Others question Dana White and his intentions since he's been Kimbo's most vocal detractor. Many see the arrangement as an act on pure genius by Kimbo, or maybe it's another beautifully orchestrated business move by the Dana, himself. Hell, maybe everyone is just smarter today than they were a few days ago. Of course, everybody could be much dumber; it depends on your perspective.
For this piece, I'll stick with the simple, because simple is what I do. The last time we saw Kimbo Slice in the cage, he was unceremoniously embarrassed by a light-heavyweight with pink hair, a UFC washout if you will. Seth Petruzelli was a man who took the fight with EliteXC's biggest star on extremely short notice and proceeded to take the $500,000 man out in just seconds in front of millions of onlookers on CBS. The dilemma which followed helped fuel the disintegration of the terribly run promotion that had been the first MMA concern to score a primetime network TV deal. As quickly as Kimbo hit the canvas, so too did ProElite.
The never timid Dana White was there through it all to point out the holes in ProElite's and Kimbo's respective games. As most know, he even offered Kimbo a shot at the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter. All the smart money said that Kimbo would never take such a raw deal when his still huge name could score substantial paydays elsewhere. What most of us may have discounted was Kimbo Slice's pride. It never occurred to many that he may, in fact, want to redeem himself. Maybe, he wasn't comfortable taking a paycheck with the cloud of Seth Petruzelli and the ProElite debacle hanging over his head. Boxing cans handpicked by Gary Shaw would be the proverbial path of least resistance.
However, if Kimbo was seeking the medicine that is redemption, how could he best do so? I think we know the answer. Kimbo has decided to take the UFC president up on his offer and fight his way into the world's most successful MMA promotion. Yes, he'll make big money if he succeeds. Matter of fact, White admitted that, if Kimbo wins, he'll receive a contract much sweeter than the standard fare for TUF champions. Kimbo is a fighter with a huge name. He's certainly not one of the top mixed martial artists, but he offers much as a result of his high public profile. But, don't let Kimbo's potentially big payoff become a distraction. He's engaging in a competition where the odds of him running the table and winning are extremely slim. All the talk of what he could make is nothing more than talk if he is unable to prove himself inside the cage. Kimbo Slice has abandoned the safety net of carefully chosen opponents for a shot at MMA legitimacy. For all the criticisms I and others have heaped on Kimbo in the past, he deserves a lot of respect for not just cashing a paycheck but playing to win.