Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The image of Kimbo Slice vs his reality

In highlighting Kimbo Slice's lumps during his stint on the Ultimate Fighter reality show, and UFC president Dana White's willingness to keep Kimbo around on the show... Dan Wetzel makes an interesting point.

What’s most amazing isn’t that Kimbo will return. It’s that the show – either through the magic of reality television or by brilliantly showing what was legitimately real – has turned Kimbo into a likable, humble and easy-to-root-for guy.

The funny thing is that Wetzel implies that Kimbo himself, once a street-hard thug, was not at all likable or humble as a person in the first place.

I think we've had our judgment colored by the crazed antics of fighters dating back to Muhammad Ali, all the way up to the nuttiness of Mike Tyson and even present day fighters like Floyd Mayweather and Brock Lesnar.

Promoters, with their excessive hype and willingness to manufacture controversy in attempting to increase ticket sales and buyrates, have made it easy to dislike fighters, so much that Wetzel and many others across America grew to dislike Kimbo Slice during his mega-hyped and ill-advised run as Elite XC's leading fighter. Elite XC pushed Kimbo as the Tiger Woods of MMA when in reality he lacked even basic fighting skills, and got badly exposed in a quick loss to a run of the mill fighter, and it was their false promises of Kimbo's ability that led in large part to the organization's quick demise.

The shoving of Kimbo down our throats led viewers to loathe Kimbo's name, rather than anything he did as a person. Even during his XC tenure he came across as a humble guy. To imply that Kimbo himself was unlikable, rather than that the hype around him was dishonest and unlikable, isn't accurate.

But that's not necessarily Wetzel's fault. He only follows a sentiment shared by hordes of MMA fans... a sentiment better placed with the defunct org that falsely hyped him as something he's not, than placed with the man himself. Kimbo was simply offered a big paycheck no one else offered to fight as a main attraction. Who turns that down?

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