Monday, October 6, 2008

Kimbo Slice

Kimbo Slice. He'll show up at your nice, Florida house, stand by as his entourage tears up your expertly pruned azaleas, then beat the holy living He-Is-Risen crap out of your biggest friend.

What can I say, the man's scary. Has been ever since those backyard videos out of Miami started catching eyes on YouTube. (You remember that; it was a little like stumbling onto your parents' porn stash: your thoughts turn into a flaming jumble of "is this real? so this is what it really looks like! am I allowed to watch this? this has to be illegal...," all the while you're dimming the lights and keeping one ear cocked for footsteps outside your bedroom door.)

With this in mind, I was half amused by his recent, much jabbered about entry into the daintily gloved world of professional MMA. (Excepting Rio Heroes, I guess. Now, I don't begrudge any man using his talents to work his way up the payscale. Still, there was one video of Kimbo that always stuck with me, a fight between him and one Sean Gannon, an off-duty policeman slumming the underground scene. Long story short, after the artwork he makes of Gannon's face, Mr. Slice gasses out. (The end is actually kinda sad.)

Which leads to the amused half of my response to Kimbo's newfound professionalism: when faced with an opponent who was better prepared than the run-of-the-mill thugs populating his suped-up schoolyard--i.e., a trained policeman, with all the day-to-day drilling and physical conditioning that that implies--Kimbo couldn't close the deal. The idea that searching out a (caged) forum where attention to diet, rest, and technique is the norm among vetted athletes would be more to his advantage than his continued pummeling of unknowns in between courses of BBQ’ed meat was—and here I speak only for myself—of the Barnum&Bailey school of spectacle. As might now be obvious, as far as Kimbo goes, I have silently leaned toward the “not” of the well-known B&B slogan.

Endurance wasn’t the deciding factor in his fight against Seth Petruzelli. At first, I thought it was a simple slip that Petruzelli capitalized on. On second glance, I noticed that as Seth’s desperate right jab lands, Slice’s front leg goes stiff—rather unmistakable evidence of some CTL-ALT-DEL going on in the higher brain functions. On third viewing, though, it’s painfully obvious: the dude got his clock re-timed with a single bunny right by a fighter who had a whole half a foot on the ground from which to leverage. For Kimbo, the end, once again, is kinda sad.

I think we’ve seen the beginning of the end of Kimbo. And I don’t rejoice at that. The sport depends on awe--amazement at the athletes’ power, prowess, endurance, all in the face of rather serious corporal punishment--and shattering that magic mirror, even for me, still provokes a certain amount of disdain. When the veneer of invincibility cracks with this brand of fighter--as it did with Shamrock, Tito, Belfort, and Liddell, for instance--multiple, humiliating defeats are only a few blearied blinks behind.

I would gamble my azaleas that Seth Petruzelli has unwittingly handed Kimbo a career as a distinguished MMA commentator.

I believe it would be wise of Mr. Slice to take it.

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