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Fightweets: Remembering Kimbo Slice

Esther Lin photo

Soooo ... anything going on over the past couple weeks? No? Cool, I'm out.

Oh wait ... actually, this has been one of the craziest times in the history of this crazy sport? Alright then. On to this week's edition of Fightweets.

Remembering Kimbo Slice

@RuckerYeah: What's your favorite Kimbo Slice memory?

A whole lot of people were saddened by Monday's death of Kevin Ferguson, a.k.a. Kimbo Slice. Kimbo (and yes, he gets first-name treatment) was one of the most authentic people I've encountered in any walk of life. From the moment he started to make his name as one of the original YouTube sensations, he had all sorts of hype around him, But if it wasn't for the fact one of the realest dudes you'll ever meet was at the center of it all, someone with flaws like the rest of us who was striving to do better, someone who didn't place himself above anyone else, then he would have disappeared the moment he was knocked out by Seth Petruzelli.

That, of course, didn't happen. Kimbo endured, earned respect for going through The Ultimate Fighter, fought on, and returned to set Bellator ratings records to go along with his still-standing MMA network television record for the James Thompson fight in 2008.

As for my favorite memory? Hands down it came at a Bellator 149 media day in Culver City over the winter. Kimbo, who seemed to be battling a bad cold, still took a half hour to talk to the press. Somewhere along the way, he started talking about his children. Kimbo was a private man and this was the first time he had ever really opened up at length about his family. Kimbo got emotional when he talked about putting a child of his who has autism into Montessori school, and about how grateful he was that this kid was treated so well by everyone at the American Top Team and made to feel part of the team.

To see someone who had been portrayed for so long as a rough-edged street fighter get misty-eyed talking about acceptance and love for his autistic child will stick with me long after all the memorable ups and downs of his fight career. Kimbo Slice was a sensation. Kevin Ferguson was a good man. RIP and best wishes to his family.

Michael Bisping's title win

@kalinorton1986: Does Bisping winning the title confirm that nobody really has a clue what they are talking about when it comes to MMA?

I mean, I don't know if I'll go quite that far. But there's no denying Bisping's knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 to win the middleweight title goes down as one of the least expected KOs since Gabriel Gonzaga took a page of out Mirko Cro Cop's book and finished him with a head kick back in 2007. If you listen to the crowd at the Forum in the seconds after the knockout, while part of the crowd was cheering, the majority were in stunned, quiet disbelief, a reaction I've never quite experienced at cageside before.

In the leadup to the fight, I was able to mentally envision Bisping winning, celebrating and wrapping the belt around his waist. I pondered how it would be one of the most amazing moments we'd ever see and a tribute to perseverance. And then I'd just as quickly dismiss the thought as improbable, if not in possible.

But Bisping pulled it off. The guy who was all but written off, the guy who never failed a drug test while others either outright cheated or swam in murky waters is a champion in the new era. It's an amazing story all on its own. I don't think this means we don't know anything, but it damn sure hammers home once again that we should never assume we know everything.

Title shot for Dan Henderson?

@cubbiezfan80: I think its cooler to have in Hendo's case, maybe the best KO highlight reel in combat sports than to have had UFC gold. Agree?

If you asked me this right after UFC 199, I would have unequivocally agreed. Henderson had the opportunity to go out on the perfect note. A sellout crowd in his Southern California backyard deliriously willing him on; one of the most vintage Hendo KOs in a whole highlight-reel full of them against a legit opponent in Hector Lombard; and an emotional scene with his family afterwards.

Then, about an hour later, Bisping goes out and knocks out Luke Rockhold to win the UFC middleweight title. Bisping, the guy who Henderson so famously knocked out at UFC 100. Bisping, who has wanted a rematch ever since. Bisping, holding the one thing, a UFC title, which had eluded him for his entire career.

There are plenty of valid reasons not to make Bisping-Hendo 2, mostly prominently the long line of contenders with more valid cases than Henderson. But anyone who witnessed Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia will tell you the old dog going after one last title shot, and actually pulling it off, is something you never forget. And Couture-Sylvia doesn't have Bisping-Hendo's back story. I'm waving between this fight being a no-brainer and it being a bad call, but you know the UFC has to take a good, long look at this option, especially if it's weighing the fight which can make the most money.

Showtime to 145

@LeeHarrisonUK: Is the Pettis move a last chance at redemption or is it a chance to start building something new again?

Looks like the latter. If you're in Anthony Pettis' shoes, you're almost 30, you're about two dozen fights into this game, and you've lost three in a row at lightweight. You lost a one-sided fight and your title to Rafael dos Anjos. You lose two more to Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza. You don't get blown out in either, which says you can still compete, but you're way down the pecking order at 155. Why not try to shake things up? Maybe I just don't want to admit the days of his highlight-reel moves might be coming to an end, but I'd like to think Pettis move is more the latter half of your question than the former.

USADA exemptions

@DavenThon: Do you think the UFC's policy allowing them to exempt fighters from testing hurts the legitimacy of the process?

I think granting an exemption for Brock Lesnar heading into UFC 200 and his fight with Mark Hunt hurts USADA more than the UFC. You expect a fight promoter do to what it has to in order to make the biggest-money fight available. It was just last month Dana White was trying to hold the USADA retired fighter policy over Conor McGregor's head when McGregor bluffed retirement. You don't expect the independent administrator of the testing, the one who is supposed to be above reproach, to bend on such a demand from a promoter. A one-time exemption for one fighter in and of itself doesn't wipe out USADA's credibility, but it is certainly an eye opener that shows USADA is far from perfect.

The credentialing thing

@11bravo1789: Do you think the UFC learned its lesson when they banned @arielhelwani

So, on the events of last week in and of themselves, I believe my colleague Ariel did a fantastic job both explaining and handling the situation on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, and want to let that stand for itself in terms of speaking for the team.

Rather, I'd like to look at this episode in the bigger picture: In its own way, this episode, in which Ariel (and Casey Leydon and Esther Lin's) credentials were revoked, but then reinstated within 48 hours after an intense public backlash, are the latest indication that mixed martial arts is turning into a big-boy sport in this, the second boom period of the Unified Rules era.

There's legitimate free agency now. There's legitimate drug testing (the problems mention above notwithstanding. There's a chance Congress could amend the Ali Act to include MMA, which would forever change the sport.

I've been doing this since 2006. A big part of the reason bans for reporters like Josh Gross -- who I've maintained all along deserves to be credentialed -- managed to stick was because mainstream sports media at the time still had its head planted firmly up its backside about mixed martial arts. They didn't even want to acknowledge the sport existed, much less rally around a banned reporter from a subculture they didn't understand.

(Never let it be said the UFC is the only fight promoter who plays games with the media, incidentally. Back when I worked full-time for Yahoo, we went through a period with Strikeforce in which they did credential us, but they ordered their fighters not to cooperate with us, a far sneakier method of press control. And even in the modern age, you saw what happened with Floyd Mayweather and Rachel Nichols' credentials).

A decade later, these things no longer exist in a vacuum, as you saw by the social media response to Ariel. And media relations with all promoters will continue to evolve, just like drug testing, free agency, and all the rest.

Why ask why?

@julesk_fighter: Why do my ribs keep popping out randomly?

Oh, I dunno, Julie Kedzie. Maybe you head kicked Miesha Tate during your Strikeforce fight with so much force that it still reverberates around your body to this day?

(Next Friday and Saturday, I am doing a bike ride from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San  Diego. It will benefit Brian Stann's Hire Heroes USA, which helped veterans find gainful employment. I picked them because the ride is in honor of my Dad, who passed away last year, who used his Army experience to give his family a better life. Acclaimed artist Chris Rini, whose work has appeared here on, is generously donating a replica Muhammad Ali piece, which we're going to give away to a random donor. As of this writing, I've still got $1,685 to go toward my goal of $5,000. Please help me get there. Thanks!)

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