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A Whiff of Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock

I've never been a fan of the desperate acts of a dying man.

The argument that matching Shamrock up with Slice is financially necessary is probably correct. There is, indeed, value in the match-up. EliteXC needs the ratings, Slice needs some level of both challenge and protection and Shamrock is a necessary component in achieving those objectives.The problem, of course, is that even with upside to this less than epic match-up, there is a stunning reality and real downside as well.

The smell of this fight is ultimately what bothers me. If you're EliteXC this fight isn't about competition; it's about pure survival. This fight is about ensuring the organization isn't dead before it's exhausted all of its resources. Competing on even a relatively level playing surface with other MMA organizations at this point a concern far removed from this equation. Thus, one can't conceive of this fight without catching the undeniable whiff of desperation about it.

Hence, the downside. EliteXC's product is becoming synonmous with the original definition of sophomoric: having the shape of wisdom, but none of the substance. Without access to more marketable fighters (and they have little ability to create their own since two is hardly enough) or fighters of higher caliber, EliteXC is becoming a cheap facsimile of what even they had in mind for themselves.

I have to confess to taking this whole affair personally. As a blogger continually rebuffed by the heads at Zuffa, I'll admit to being hopeful a rival would appear to challenge their supremacy. I wished for no one's downfall, but I did have high hopes a newcomer would make an impact, shake lose Zuffa's ultimate control and remake the MMA landscape. But as we can clearly see, competition to Zuffa has been arguably more helpful than harmful. By going head to head, Zuffa has sharpened their product, increased their output, expanded their business plan and vision and helped facilitate the demise of rivals. As someone who could've been a beneficiary of real competition, the results have been sobering. One wonders how EliteXC or any would-be rival can build enough momentum long term to survive or remain solvent much less challenge the health and esteemed perch of the UFC.

So now we are here with EliteXC grasping for relevancy by clinging to the popularity afforded to Kimbo Slice. A popularity, mind you, of dubious loyalty and longevity. The matchmaking merely illustrates the distance between EliteXC and their rivals. The Slice vs. Shamrock bout could've been booked in different circumstances, to be sure. A healthy, successful EliteXC could still feasibly find some upside in the bout. But in this circumstance, there is infinitely more at stake. The pressure of organizational livelihood is riding on the event. And because of that, this fight is a matter of necessity, not convenience. And in that necessity, I find my cynicism is all but undeniable.

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