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Fightweets: In his own way, Kimbo a much-welcomed slice of the past

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Esther Lin

Mixed martial arts, you're the gift that keeps on giving.

Just as I found myself pondering the fact there was so much Conor McGregor content out there that one more McGregor lead might make this site explode, along comes Bellator to announce the return of the legendary Kimbo Slice.

Ahh yes. Kimbo Slice. YouTube fights. James Thompson and the exploding ear. Icy Mike. Seth Petruzelli and the knockout which sunk Elite XC. So much mayhem. So much fun. Remember when this sport was fun? Who cares if it was someone else burning through millions and millions of dollars, as long as we were entertained? In this day and age of drugs tests and rehab and a seemingly endless stream of bad news, I'm ready for another Kimbo brawl or two.

So thanks Kimbo, and thanks Bellator. We'll talk about that, the welterweight title picture, Jon Jones, and yeah, we'll talk Conor, too. On to your questions

Return of Kimbo

@Sigep422wesg: Do u think Kimbo will get same ratings before he got mopped up by @ufc talent? U think he can pull big #'s for @BellatorMMA l?

Absolutely. Let's face it, after Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar killed it in the ratings on Nov. 15 and wreaked havoc on a UFC PPV in the process, the toothpaste came out of the tube and there's no putting it back.

There's no way in hell CM Punk in the UFC is anything other than a defensive move by the UFC to keep him from signing with Bellator and keeping him from doing what Ortiz-Bonnar did. It's also the only reason why Quinton Jackson, who will not be challenging for the light heavyweight title any time soon, is back (we think) in the UFC.

Kimbo is the latest domino to fall, as Bellator rushes to find fighters who will can headline big cable shows, and UFC tries to keep those fighters in house.

Smart promotion makes all the difference in the world with these sort of fights. Look at the example of Tito in Bellator. In May, Bjorn Rebney put Tito in a position to run over his then-middleweight champ and bury him, which is exactly what he did. There was zero payoff for the fight beyond the fans reaction in the arena showing they still cared about Ortiz.

Bellator CEO Scott Coker, meanwhile, matched Ortiz against another figher from the past with a name in Bonnar. Coker did in a manner that drew a big audience, didn't detract attention from fighters in their prime, and then presented the rest of the card in a manner which there was something for everyone.

That's how you do it with the aging-vet set. Coker's not going to go throw a 40-year-old Kimbo in the cage with one of his reigning champion. Nor is he going to build the whole company around Slice, as Elite XC so disastrously did.

But, if you hype the return of Kimbo after six years out of the limelight against another name from the past, and treat the event like you did the Nov. 15 card, with a big production, a title fight with guys in their prime, and a showcase fight or two for guys on their way up, and, well, the signing of Kimbo Slice just paid for itself.

@Joe_docker: Man, let's face it we needed some freak fights around. Bring back bob sapp - or am I going too far with this?

Why stop there? I'd have Kimbo rematch Adryan from YouTube, myself. Actually, I'd probably book Adryan before I would Sapp, since from what I can tell, Adryan at least took an honest ass-kicking for whatever money he made.

But since we're playing matchmaker here, I mean, we have to keep an eye on Brock Lesnar, don't we? When push comes to shove, Lesnar is a mercenary, and when his WWE contract comes up in a few months, he's going to land with whomever pays him a dollar more than the others. Lesnar vs. Kimbo could break the Neilsen machines.

And, I mean, if that doesn't work out, well, Ken Shamrock is about to do a bare-knuckle boxing match. I spoke to Ken in November and he refused to call himself retired, saying he'd do one more fight for the right price against the right guy. If that fight's not Kimbo, then who? They could even coax Seth Petruzelli out of retirement and put him on the undercard just to make the Circle of Kimbo complete.

McGregor vs. Siver

@CampOwl: If Siver wins, do they start marketing him even remotely as boldly as they have with McGregor?

Hahahaha. Man, your question made me laugh more than that cringe-inducing "Conrad McGillicutty" video, which was our best reminder since the Jorge Rivera-Michael Bisping skits that some fighters shouldn't try to be comedians.

But no. If McGregor loses to Dennis Siver, he's not getting the Conor McGregor push, not unless the victory has some sort of transitive power in which Siver absorbs all McGregor's charisma in the process. Sunday night is all about a showcase for McGregor. Just like Mirko Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga. Whoops ... I mean, just like Kimbo vs. Petruz .... you know what, I'm just going to stop here.

Welter skelter

@IanIsAMonster: So with talks of KG getting a title shot, Rory still somewhere in line, and Brown/Hendricks. What happens if Nick wins?

That sure is the wild card, isn't it? Look, I'm basing this on nothing but pure conjecture, but if Nick Diaz goes out and actually defeats Anderson Silva, his stock will be at his high point. Diaz has already sat out more than a year to prove he'll only fight top names for top prices. Like Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler, wouldn't be a big draw simply by playing the highlight-reel knockout over and over? And I don't think you'd have to twist Lawler's arm to get his chance at revenge.

And when push comes to shove, for all the talk of who deserved the next shot at Lawler, I kind of like the idea of throwing the race back open. While Hendricks' fans and MacDonald's each vehemently deny it, both guys had solid claims at a title shot. So let's put them both out there against gamers and see who wants it more.

If Diaz actually beats Silva, though, though, sure. All bets are off. Given that the UFC's credo in 2015 is putting on the biggest-selling fights, divisional schemes be damned, it only makes sense.

@ynneKrepmatS If for some reason Pettis vs. RDS gets pulled from UFC 185, how would the 115 title fight do on PPV numbers?

I would suspect if this was the case, the UFC would handle it like it did UFC 178, in which the Demetrious Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso title fight went on last, but all the hype going in went to Donald Cerrone vs. Eddie Alvarez and McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier. It worked fine that time, and could this time, if they have to cross this bridge. Johny Hendricks vs. Matt Brown pretty much sells itself; Hendricks is looking to prove he deserves the next title shot; Brown has another chance to prove he can beat one of the elites. And while such a scenario would no doubt lead to handwringing from the usual suspects in the MMA meta-media about how the UFC is shortchanging a title, sensible people understand it takes time to get a new weight class off the ground.


@EFCTOFFEE20: Did Jon Jones take rehab 'very seriously'? LOL what a clown every time he does or says something it backfires.

I'm not going to call Jones a clown, but you point about having a things backfire, is, well, on point. Tuesday, a news story came out quoting Jones' mother, who said that the UFC light heavyweight champion was out of rehab after a single night and will be attending Sunday's AFC championship game in the Boston area.

That news coincidentally happened a day after the Nevada Athletic Commission punted on handling the fallout of his test like Ray Guy in his prime (Guy's the only full-time punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, kids. There, spared you a trip to Wikipedia).

I'll still give Jones the benefit of the doubt until we hear from him. But this latest self-inflicted PR wound makes it clear that he's still got quite a bit to figure out in terms of both his messaging and choosing the inner circle who help make his out-of-the-ring decisions.

The Time Is ...

@pinheiroandre: What was the big announcement from UFC that never happened? #TheTimeIsNow

Umm, it turned out to be that Reebok thing you may have heard a little bit about here and there.

Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.