Roy “Big Country” Nelson will give Kimbo Slice the biggest test of his career Wednesday night when they go head-to-head on The Ultimate Fighter. Kimbo came up through the ranks as a brawler with little more than a raw look and a heavy hand but now–six years after his internet debut–can we expect to see anything more than a man with a greasy beard and hard right?
I’ve always tried to stay fair-minded when I thought of Kimbo Slice. As a hardcore fan, it was tough to accept him as a legit contender, but deep inside I knew it wasn’t his fault –he never asked for the fanfare. The folks at Elite XC, where Kimbo was once contracted, decided he could be the next big thing and they spent a lot of money trying to convince the rest of the world.
“Victim” is not typically a word I’d use to describe a man like Kimbo Slice, but the fact is, for better or worse, he was exploited by a group of overzealous promoters who saw a short road to a big paycheck. He was thrust into the spotlight before he was ready, and for the most part he kept his mouth shut and did his job; he fought. I can’t blame him for that.
Now, as part of The Ultimate Fighter, he’s probably gotten more attention than ever before but in a very different way. He’s no longer being cast as The Untouchable. He isn’t being cast as anything, in fact. He’s just been given a stage and the onus is on him to show us what kind of fighter Kimbo Slice is. And all indications suggest that he’s going to show up in a big way.
He’s obviously a dangerous striker–he always has been–but the question surrounds his ground game and his ability to take a punch. It’s been about a year since his last fight and it sounds like he’s taken that time to work on his weaknesses. On a conference call Monday afternoon, Kimbo told reporters that he started training at American Top Team in Florida, one of the most elite jiu-jitsu training centers in the world. “I need to know this stuff,” Kimbo said, “to fight Roy [Nelson].” That’s a major sign that he’s taking this seriously and wants to learn new things.
Of course, he’s still got a lot of work to do, but he seems to understand that, “You’re going to learn a lot but you’re not going to become a master at anything in two years,” he said.
I think Nelson is going to have his hands full with this fight and if he carries this cocky attitude into the cage on fight day, he might be in for a very disappointing upset.
Watch Kimbo Slice take on Roy Nelson Wednesday night at 10P/9C only on Spike. As always, let us know what you think right here on TUF.Spike.com and check us out on Twitter @Spike_TV #TUF.
Footnote: On the conference call, Kimbo described a day in his life, filled with “changing Pampers and making bottles.” This doesn’t really relate to anything in this article but it is a visual that’s too good to miss.