Good analysis of the pro-wrestling style build up for Kimbo vs Tank from Bryan Alvarez at the Fight Network:
The most lucrative fights often aren't about the best fighters. It's all about creating an illusion, and this was the ultimate battle of illusion. You had Tank Abbott, the supposed pitfighter from the early days of UFC who people could look at and say, that's what a real fighter looks like. Fat, powerful, big beer gut, hairy, thick beard, the guy who eats some wings, drinks some beer and then punches people out. He'd won a single fight since 1998 and was coming into this with a 9-13 record, but it didn't matter -- he was TANK ABBOTT. Kimbo was the "Internet street fighting legend", a big black powerful muscular dude with a bald head and gigantic beard, the kind of guy that people who don't follow fighting would look at and say, that's the baddest man around. It was the street fighter of the 90s vs. the street fighter of the 00s, two cartoon characters about to slug it out in a cartoon match to determine who was the supposed toughest brawler around. They even billed it, no joke, as THE STREETFIGHT. It was a pro-wrestling stipulation on an MMA show (even though, obviously, they had to follow traditional MMA rules and the fight was even stopped at one point for illegal shots to the back of the head). When Kimbo, the hometown Miami boy, got the win in 43 seconds via knockout, it got a reaction unlike almost anything we've heard in pro-wrestling or MMA in the last several years. The people lost their minds because the guy from Youtube beat the old guy who hadn't shown a thing in a DECADE. This was magical, and really a once-in-a-generation type of fight, and I was so sad that so few people had been aware of it.
As much as some MMA purists hate on pro-wrestling, it has always been close kin to MMA -- in fact in Japan MMA is almost wholly a spin-off of proresu -- and there is much to learn about building a business, selling fights, and most importantly sustaining a business model from our friends the carny barkers at WWE.
Update [2008-2-18 12:28:7 by Kid Nate]:
Mike Sloan has a slightly different take on the Kimbo phenomenon at Sherdog. Key quote:
As horrendous as it is for purists the world over, the reality is that Slice will be nabbing the headlines for quite some time. First we had Abbott, next was Sapp and now we have Ferguson.
I disagree. I think as our own Luke Thomas personifies, some MMA hardcores are very impressed with Kimbo and welcome him to the sport. He kicks ass and sells tickets, what more do we ask of a fighter?