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Roy Nelson Beats Kimbo Slice on 'The Ultimate Fighter': What's Next?

We knew heading into this season of The Ultimate Fighter that Roy Nelson is bigger, stronger and more skillful than Kimbo Slice, and that Kimbo needs to get better on the ground. So in one respect, Nelson's second-round TKO victory over Kimbo on Wednesday night's episode of the UFC's reality show didn't teach us much.

But even though Nelson beat Kimbo decisively, I came away from their fight more convinced than I was before that Kimbo is worthy of fighting in the UFC. I also came away more convinced than I was before that Nelson is the favorite to win this season's Ultimate Fighter tournament.

I had never been particularly impressed with Kimbo in the past, and after he lost to Seth Petruzelli in 14 seconds in October, I didn't think he'd ever be a serious MMA fighter. I still don't think Kimbo will ever beat a Top 10 opponent, but I liked some of the things I saw him do against Nelson.
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Kimbo Falls to Nelson
Kimbo Slice punches Roy Nelson during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.
UFC
UFC

Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson

    Kimbo Slice punches Roy Nelson during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.

    UFC

    Roy Nelson punches Kimbo Slice during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.

    UFC

    Kimbo Slice punches Roy Nelson during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.

    UFC

    Roy Nelson punches Kimbo Slice during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.

    UFC

    Kimbo Slice punches Roy Nelson during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.

    UFC

    Kimbo Slice punches Roy Nelson during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.

    UFC

    Roy Nelson turns up the heat on Kimbo Slice during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.

    UFC

    Roy Nelson battles Kimbo Slice on the ground during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.

    UFC

    Roy Nelson gets his hand raised after a second-round TKO win over Kimbo Slice during the 'The Ultimate Fighter' episode which aired Sept. 30, 2009 on Spike TV.

    UFC


I've always thought Kimbo needs to diversify his stand-up, so I was glad to see him try a leg kick in the early going, and shortly after that, Kimbo went on the attack and landed some good punches against the cage. His stand-up looks a little stiff, but mixing it up and staying aggressive on his feet is what we need to see from Kimbo. I was also impressed that when Nelson and Kimbo were tangled together midway through the first round, Kimbo didn't go down easily, even though Nelson outweighed him by more than 30 pounds.

Still, Nelson did eventually take Kimbo down and mount him, and late in the first round, when Nelson transitioned from mount to side control and started landing punches to Kimbo's head, referee Herb Dean would have been justified in stopping the fight. And although Kimbo did manage to make it out of the first round, the second round saw Nelson get on top of Kimbo again, get side control again, and eventually land enough punches to force Dean to stop it.

"He needs to use the rest of the time he's here to absorb as much knowledge as he can," UFC President Dana White said of Kimbo. "He will leave this a better fighter."

I think that's about right: Kimbo needs to get better on the ground so that bigger and stronger fighters can't simply follow Nelson's game plan and dominate him from the top. Kimbo's work with Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Ricardo Liborio at American Top Team will be crucial to his development.

We'll definitely see Kimbo back in the Octagon again; White (and The Ultimate Fighter's narrator) implied that Kimbo might get another chance to fight on the show this season, and even if that doesn't happen, Kimbo himself confirmed that he's still in the UFC and will fight in the Octagon in December. I hope in his next fight we see a Kimbo who knows how to escape from side control.

As for Nelson, White was somewhat dismissive of his victory, saying afterward, "Roy did just enough to win and not get hit." I thought Nelson (who has seven first-round finishes on his 13-4 record) would beat Kimbo more quickly than he did, but he didn't do anything to change my opinion that he's the favorite to win this season's show.

Both Kimbo and Nelson could benefit from a good conditioning program, and Kimbo definitely needs to get better on the ground. But my overall takeaway from the most anticipated fight in the history of The Ultimate Fighter is that both men acquitted themselves well enough that I'm looking forward to seeing them in the Octagon again.

Follow the UFC? Follow me on Twitter @MichaelDavSmith.

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