Gary Shaw may know the boxing business as well as any promoter out there, but his comments in a recent interview with Fight Hub TV prove that his failed venture with the now defunct EliteXC organization didn't teach him much about MMA.
It's not surprising that Shaw, who made Kimbo Slice the centerpiece of EliteXC during his tenure, disagrees with the UFC's decision to cut the former internet brawler after his loss at UFC 113. What is surprising, or maybe just disappointing, is that he can't see why it was the right move.
For starters, Shaw says the UFC "matched [Slice] up wrong," adding "I would have put him in against just stand-up fighters."
What he doesn't realize is a) in a sport like MMA you can only keep that charade up for so long, and b) that's more or less what the UFC tried to do. After Slice's stint on "The Ultimate Fighter" drew big ratings (in spite of Slice's unceremonious defeat at the hands of Roy Nelson), the UFC matched him up with Houston Alexander in the hopes of getting a slugfest. That didn't pan out, but it was mostly because Alexander chose to do more running than gunning.
Next he faced Matt Mitrione, who was even more inexperienced than Slice and also favored a stand-up approach. Not only did he lose that fight, but he looked bad doing it.
Dana White likely reasoned that he'd gotten as much mileage as he could out of Slice's celebrity. While he seems to be a likable and charismatic guy, nothing we saw out of Slice on the reality show or in his two UFC fights indicated that he could compete at the sport's highest level.
Of course, that doesn't seem to matter to Shaw. To him, marketability isn't just one aspect of fight promotion – it's the only aspect. It doesn't matter that Slice can't beat UFC-caliber fighters. As long as you can find a warm body for him to thump on, you can keep pretending that he's a superstar.
What Shaw doesn't see is that the UFC is promoting a product, not a single fighter. Propping up a guy who doesn't belong there damages the credibility of that product in the long term, which is exactly what happened to EliteXC after it pushed Slice at the expense of the rest of the roster.
That's why, when Slice went down to weak jab from Seth Petruzelli, it didn't take much for the company to go down with him.
It's telling that as Shaw talks about what a "star" Slice is and why he never would have cut him, never once does he mention anything about Slice's actual fighting ability. Sure, maybe Kimbo "captivates a room," as Shaw claims, but can the guy fight?
Because if he can't, if he's more hype than substance, eventually he's going to get exposed. You'd think a guy would only have to get burned once to learn that lesson, but apparently you'd be wrong.