Sometimes the story of a fight can be told in just a single moment.
In the case of Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000 at Bellator 149 on Friday, that moment occurred near the end of the second round, when Slice—apropos of nothing—got so exhausted he almost lay down inside the cage.
Like most of the rest of the fight, it was bizarre and hilarious, nearly inexplicable. Nobody had ever seen anything quite like it—and we probably never will again.
The sequence occurred during one of the two men's many ponderous clinching sessions against the fence. Slice—who had just landed a winging right hand and an upper cut on his rookie opponent—simply sank to his hands and knees as if to say, let's just take a break here.
It's tempting to say he collapsed, but that would imply the use of energy.
This was more of a slump.
Perhaps another indicator of how this fight had gone was that it didn't end there. In fact, Slice came back to win the contest via TKO in the third round after Dada (real name: Dhafir Harris) also crumpled—from an accumulation of blows and his own abhorrent conditioning.
The victory gave the 42-year-old Slice (real name: Kevin Ferguson) his second win in a row since he returned to the cage after a five-year absence. The identity of the winner, however, was completely beside the point in the story of this bout.
This was—without exaggeration or hesitation—the worst fight in modern MMA history.
And because of that, it also became kind of great.
"I'm so winded right now," Slice said to Bellator color commentator Jimmy Smith inside the cage when it was finally, mercifully done. "I wish it could have been a little different, but hard work and the victory was ours."
For many of the people who stayed up to watch the show live and free on SpikeTV, it was all a tremendous amount of fun. You know, in the same way a slapstick comedy or a terrible '80s pop song can be fun. This was 11-plus minutes (and boy did it seem longer) tailor-made for instant reaction on social media.
And react people did:
Slice and Dada had done yeoman's work piquing the public's interest for this bout, which we were told would settle a years-old grudge between the two former street fighters. They each cut inspired promos, appeared in well-crafted video vignettes and swore a blue streak at each other during the pre-fight press conference.
Only once the actual athletics started did we realize it had all been a necessary distraction. For this biggest fight of both their lives, it appeared neither man had come in shape to go a single round, let alone three.
The action started slowly and ground to a full stop on several occasions. Slice and Dada both threw their share of pawing power punches, but neither man proved capable of providing the titanic slugfest they'd promised during the lead-up.
Slice shot for a takedown in the first 20 seconds and was visibly winded midway through the opening stanza. From time to time, Dada looked like the fresher fighter, and he landed some strikes, but he couldn't summon the ability to force a stoppage.
We got an inkling that might be the case earlier in the week, when Dada debuted his skills during pre-fight media workouts. Members of the press—including Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter—quickly dubbed him the worst professional fighter they'd ever seen. Though Dada assured us he would have more to offer come fight time, the extent of the con we were about to witness had begun to reveal itself.
Dada looked so bad, I briefly worried putting him in there with Slice might be a dangerous mismatch. As it turned out, the only danger was that one of these men would keel over from a heart attack.
Slice's takedowns devolved from double leg shots to trips and eventually to him just sort of falling over on top of Dada. Once he got things to the ground, he didn't seem to know what to do next. On the feet, his punches looked sapped of their once fearsome power, perhaps permanently.
A more adept opponent might have capitalized on Slice's obvious weaknesses—or at least on that moment when he nearly put himself down for a nap in the second—but Dada wasn't up to it. Though he came in 2-0 in smaller organizations, he'd been idle since 2011, and this fight amounted to his substantive MMA debut.
Referee John McCarthy's disgust was palpable. Before the fight even began, he had to issue multiple admonishments to the fighters about where to stand and the importance of following his instructions. As things wore on and the men wore out, McCarthy implored them to fight, to work, to even move.
McCarthy called for seven restarts, including one while Slice was in mount position on the ground. The ref threatened to take a point from Dada between rounds when he again did not stand in the proper place and scolded him for grabbing Slice's shorts once after a takedown.
During the short moments when the fight segued from a complete stall to merely slow motion—think the "turtle" speed setting on a riding lawn mower—Slice and Dada did their best to brawl.
The end result, however, looked like something that should have happened in a backyard or salvage lot and been captured on one of the grainy YouTube videos that rocketed Slice to quasi-fame more than a decade ago.
This was his second fight in Bellator and, though his strange appeal has persisted with fans thus far, it's hard to believe it can go on much longer. It's impossible to think matchmakers could put Slice in the cage with any legitimate fighter and not have him come out on the wrong end of a nasty loss.
For Dada, this was probably always going to be his only rodeo. Leading up to the fight, he said filming had begun on a second documentary about his life. The first, 2015's Dawg Fight, had given him the notoriety to get into this match with Slice in the first place.
After his performance, though, it remains unclear who would want to see the film's sequel.
The only moments of real drama came after the fight was over. Dada had been ruled out by McCarthy after accepting a series of strikes, stumbling in a dazed, cartoonish circle and collapsing at the base of the fence. Reports from inside the arena said he lay there for a long time and eventually had to be taken out on a stretcher.
There were some tense moments while waiting to find out if Dada was OK. In the end, though, several media members tweeted that he was alert, receiving oxygen and would be transported to a hospital for observation.
And so we will all live on to fight—such as it were—another day.
This fight was terrible but will no doubt score killer ratings for Bellator. Even if the viewing audience wasn't totally sure what to make of it, it inspired strong reactions from nearly all sides.
In a way, perhaps that made the whole thing a strange success for all involved.
Now, let's never do this again.