Never has there been a more ridiculed fighter than Kimbo Slice, but is it justified? The short answer is no, read on to find out why.
A man that certainly needs no introduction, Kimbo Slice rose to prominence after a string of popular internet street fights involving himself went viral. Capitalizing on the success of his internet stardom, he would go on to become one of the biggest names in MMA, earning multiple six-figure paydays for Elite XC, UFC and Bellator. But Kimbo’s rise to the top came with its critics.
Many MMA fans and journalists seemed utterly perplexed by Kimbo’s popularity and felt that he didn’t belong at the elite level of competition, as a result, he would become a laughing stock amongst certain sects of the MMA community. It wasn’t until Kimbo’s tragic death in 2016 at the age of 42 that the mockery eased, yet, many still hold him as one of the worst MMA fighters of all time, which to me is staggering.
Prominent mixed martial arts YouTube channel ‘Montage King’ placed Kimbo as the fifth-worst MMA fighter of all time, while Bloody Elbow writer Michael Rome would have a field-day over how much Slice ‘sucked’. Although Kimbo certainly wasn’t an all-time great when it came to fighting ability, he definitely wasn’t one of the worst either. For one, Kimbo was a competent Boxer with ruthless one-punch knockout power and a really underrated right uppercut. Despite an inferior ground game he did show vast improvements after the Ultimate Fighter and was able to find a great deal of success there, in his UFC win over Houston Alexander.
If he really was one of the worst MMA fighters of all time, ask yourself who he was beating and why few consider them amongst the worst ever. There are plenty of mixed martial artists who haven’t achieved nearly as much success as Slice, but because they weren’t at the pinnacle of the sport they are rarely considered. Fighters such as Akebono, Joe Son and CM Punk never won a single MMA fight, so let’s not pretend that these guys are in the same ballpark as Kimbo Slice. Sure, he didn’t exactly redefine the boundaries of martial arts methodology, but he is undoubtedly a key figure in MMA’s meteoric rise. You don’t draw in 6.5 million viewers to a fight against James Thompson and not make a lasting impact, something his ‘haters’ seem to forget.
To me, Kimbo Slice defines the American dream. Despite starting MMA at 31 years of age he was able to completely change his life through fighting. Only a few years earlier Kimbo found himself in relative poverty and even spent time living out of his car, after the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season destroyed his family home and high school. This is why I don’t understand the hate directed towards Kimbo Slice. He was just an honest man looking out for his family. Those who wailed and complained about his exposure were the very same people tuning in and ensuring he remained a major promotional success. The fight game is money motivated, love it or hate that’s the truth, I’d much prefer it to be entirely meritocratic myself but sadly that doesn’t always work.
So, rather than needlessly knocking a man for putting his life on the line, let’s give Kimbo credit where credit is due, he undoubtedly brought eyes to the sport.
George Glinski is the founder of popular bare-knuckle boxing blog toethelinebkb.com and works as a staff writer and post-fight interviewer for BKBtm. His contributions to mymmanews.com include MMA, boxing, bare-knuckle boxing and Lethwei, with a particular focus on the British scenes.