In the 12 hours since the first mixed martial arts show on prime time network television, I've received dozens of questions from people who are new to the sport and aren't quite sure what they saw when Kimbo Slice beat James Thompson. I'll answer some of those questions here.
Was the fight rigged?
No. Although I disagree with referee Dan Miragliotta's decision to step in and stop the fight, quick stoppages happen in MMA and boxing all the time. I respect Miragliotta as a referee and believe he genuinely thought Thompson, who was bleeding profusely from his ear, needed to be protected.
Did EliteXC want Kimbo to win?
Yes. Kimbo is by far the organization's most popular fighter. EliteXC boss Gary Shaw was obviously rooting for Kimbo, and his son entered the cage with Kimbo.
Is Kimbo a good MMA fighter?
No. I doubt there's a single heavyweight under contract to UFC who would even struggle to beat him. Most UFC light heavyweights would beat him. Some UFC middleweights would beat him, and there might even be a couple of welterweights and lightweights who could beat him. UFC fighters are skilled athletes; Kimbo is a curiosity.
If the fight had gone the distance, who would have won?
Probably Thompson. Through two rounds, Bloody Elbow reports, Thompson was leading 20-17 on one card and 20-18 on another. It was tied 19-19 on a third. So even if Kimbo had won the third round 10-9 on all three judges' cards, Thompson would have won a split decision. Obviously, we don't know what would have happened in the rest of the third round, but the early stoppage was fortunate for Kimbo.
Where does Kimbo go next?
Unless the CBS ratings were terrible, he'll get another prime time fight. It might be against IFL heavyweight champion Roy Nelson, whom I've criticized in the past, but who I now think, having watched last night's fight, would have to be favored to beat Kimbo.
Does UFC need to be worried about EliteXC?
No. UFC 84 was a much better card than last night's EliteXC show, and UFC 85 will be, too. Tonight's WEC show will be, too, and WEC is owned by UFC's parent company. I'm all for putting MMA on free TV, but fans recognize that the best MMA is on UFC pay-per-view, not on CBS.