With the recent acquiring of EliteXC’s assets, Strikeforce immediately gave themselves a boost to their fighter roster. With names like Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Alistair Overeem, Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson, Cung Le, and Frank Shamrock already having fought for Strikeforce, they are only getting stronger with the addition of Jake Shields, Robbie Lawler, and Nick Diaz.
But what about one of MMA’s most polarizing figures- Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson?
He’s included in the EliteXC to Strikeforce transfer, but how will Strikeforce actually use him? He’s certainly lost some (if not most) of his luster following a very disappointing 14 second loss to former UFC fighter Seth Petruzelli. However, there is still an intrigue with Slice between both casual and hardcore MMA fans. So how should Strikeforce actually utilize Kimbo Slice? I have a few ideas:
1) Organize the bout Slice was supposed to be in—a match with Ken Shamrock
This fight, when announced, caused such a wave of discussion among fans it nearly promoted itself. The classic “striker vs. grappler” angle was being highlighted, as well as “rookie vs. veteran”. Shamrock, a man who had lost 8 out of last 10 MMA fights (including a first round KO loss to relative unknown Robert “Buzz” Berry), was being hyped as the guy that could test Slice’s ground game.
In fact, Shamrock was the only one of Slice’s opponents that had any semblance of a ground game.
Why not set this fight up again?
If Strikeforce can land Shamrock (which doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem considering his past performances), it will test the future marketability of Slice. If Slice were to win, he’d be back on the winning track, stirring up even more interest in him and his spectacle.
If Slice were to lose, Strikeforce would do well to cut Slice (and his monstrous contract- he was paid $500,000 for his loss to Petruzelli) and forget about him completely. Slice will turn 35 soon after this article is published, and that’s not exactly young in the MMA world. The time it would take to develop his skills would be outweighed by the amount of time he would have to realistically fight in the MMA world- maybe 3 or 4 years.
2) Organize a bout between Slice and another aging, former great
If Strikeforce decides that Shamrock won’t have the same publicity power as he once had, they could find another fighter to basically fill the same role as Shamrock- a veteran who’s well past his prime. Names that come to mind include—and don’t laugh—Dan Severn, Mark Kerr, Gary Goodridge, and Oleg Taktarov. They have all fought in the past year, so it’s not as if Strikeforce would be pulling these guys out of nursing homes.
Except for Goodridge, they are all known for their ground skills primarily (Severn and Kerr for wrestling, Taktarov for Sambo), and are all advanced in age (Severn’s 50 years old!).
The same outcomes of a possible Slice-Shamrock fight would occur; a win put Slice back in the public eye, and a loss drops him out completely.
3) Sell his contract to a Japanese promotion
If I was running Strikeforce, this would be my preferred course of action. As noted above, Slice makes a heck of a lot of money, and unless he’s willing to take a drastic pay cut, it doesn’t seem he’ll fit in Strikeforce’s plans. His presence is more valuable in Japan than in America, so I would get in contact with the DREAM promotion, as they already partnered with EliteXC to allow Nick Diaz and Eddie Alvarez to fight in DREAM events.
The Japanese, as a MMA fan base, love to see fighters who don’t necessarily look like typical Japanese fighter—guys such as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Bob Sapp, and Hong Man Choi have all been huge hits overseas.
If Strikeforce sells Kimbo Slice’s contract to DREAM, they’ll probably make more than from trying to market him in the United States. There have already been rumors of a Seth Petruzelli rematch in Japan, so this may not be as far off as you may think.
Regardless of how Strikeforce handles Kimbo Slice, their acquisition of EliteXC proves their might as a MMA promotion. I don’t think they will challenge the UFC anytime soon, but time will tell if Strikeforce can survive and avoid the fates of EliteXC or the IFL.