clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock is for the truly wicked at heart, which might be you

New, comments

There’s something tragic in seeing the footage of Ken Shamrock living in an RV without running water leading up to a fight with a guy who has gold teeth. But, then again, much of the fight game’s charm comes from such extremes. Shamrock, who is 51 years old, isn’t just some old husk. He was a somebody. A pioneer in these mixed-up disciplines. A legend. The thought of passing headlights playing across his face as he sleeps reminds me of Bukowski’s 31-word poem, "Oh, Yes."

And there’s nothing worse than too late.

I feel certain that somebody is trying to break our hearts.

And unless crazy strikes twice, Shamrock will finally get to fight Kimbo Slice on Friday night in St. Louis at Bellator 138. If you don’t know by now, those two just happen to be the bane of each other’s existences. In 2008, Shamrock, already stenciled as a "has-been" and a very beatable "name" for the transcendent back-alley brawler Slice, was hours away from competing in the most-viewed MMA event in history. Yet somewhere between the weigh-ins and the fight itself he cut himself and was forced out. That set up an absolute comedy of events. Seth Petruzelli stepped in against Kimbo on short notice and, ignoring any subliminal memos being sent from CBS and EliteXC execs, knocked the game’s greatest cash cow out with a short right jab.

More Coverage: Bellator 138 Results | Kimbo vs. Shamrock live blog


So many delusions went flying up through the ceiling that night in Sunrise, like a funnel of moaning spirits.

EliteXC folded afterwards. Shamrock was the butt of many jokes. Petruzelli became known as "The Kimbo Killer." The Kimbo myth was busted. It was a fantastic disaster. Kimbo and Shamrock went on hating each other for the next seven years until Scott Coker took over Bellator and, like a vendetta-herder, brought them back together.

And presto, we’re forced into deep introspection about what it is we find compelling about fights to begin with. Coker is all about reassuring us that our masochism knows no bounds. He is always there to remind us that we’re drawn irresistibly to a carny attraction like bugs to the purple light. Scott Coker may not be forthcoming with information, but he is tapped into the primal urge that we practice batting down in polite company.

For Shamrock, though, this is personal. That’s why he purposely exiled himself to an RV in Southern California. He wants to win. And Kimbo, well, take cover because he’s testing out those wordplays again. "If it makes dollars, it makes cents," he said in his first press conference back. (This the same cat who uttered the famous words, "The inner me is the enemy...the enemy is the inner me," after an epiphany on The Ultimate Fighter 10).

(Maybe Kimbo Slice is a kind of modern day Bukowski).

Kimbo wants to get paid.

Realistically, on any rational level -- any "sporting" level -- there’s nothing compelling about a fight between a guy at least two decades past his prime and a guy who had no prime to begin with. Neither man has fought since 2010, the same year that Ronda Rousey had her first amateur bout. Kimbo’s greatest accomplishment remains relegated to the unsanctioned back-alleys of Miami, where he made a name for himself beating up bouncers for millions of online voyeurs. Shamrock dates back to Early Man. He fought everybody from Royce Gracie to Bas Rutten. He fought under no rules, limited rules and unified rules. Even the muttonchops that accentuate his stone features date back to the Civil War, to old Ambrose Burnside, a fighting man himself.

To put it in perspective, when the UFC began in 1993, Shamrock was already pushing 30 years old. He fought Masakatsu Funaki when Sergio Pettis was a month old. He’s like a spirit haunting his own body. The dude carries a Bible and a Glock, and feels they have equal sway in morality.

No, to see Kimbo and Shamrock trade punches in 2015 almost seems cruel.

Almost because, then again, on the "spectacle" level, on the carnival grounds where you just have to know what’s behind the tent flap…damn is this one fun. It doesn’t have to be clean or disciplined or technical, it just has to be about two well-known guys still carrying an unresolved grudge. It has to be the fact that Shamrock could (and should) fall on his face against Kimbo, who has no business being in a cage (other than business itself). It has to be resolved, because it was so epically left undone.

Heavyweights Shamrock vs. Kimbo. Seven years later. Neither man what you might call "relevant." Each man a throwback to less polished times. One with muttonchops, the other with "forty thousand dollars" in his mouth worth of gold. Ninety-two freaking years between them. Locked in a cage to do each other harm.

God help us. Shame on all of us. Can’t believe this train wreck. You call this entertainment? Nine o’clock eastern, 6 o’clock out west. Hope there’s enough beer in the fridge to help slog through all this guilt.