An MMA Happening

By Francis Walker
Updated: June 3, 2008

NEW YORK — The world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has been a rapidly growing phenomenon in the last 10 years. Though the debate on whether MMA is more popular boxing remains is on going, it’s certain that the MMA world continues to garner worldwide attention.

ProElite took a tremendous step toward broadening MMA’s appeal and acceptance amongst the general public by staging the first-ever, “CBS EliteXC Saturday Night Fights, “nationally-televised event from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

The main event featured underground internet sensation Kimbo Slice (3-0, 3 KOs) in the toughest fight of his career against James Thompson (16-9, 9 KOs). In only his third professional MMA contest, Slice knocked out Thompson in a very dramatic heavyweight contest.

It was clearly the toughest and most impressive performance of Slices’ career. No one expected Thompson to be as competitive and challenging as he was.

“I did actually,” said Slice’s promoter Jared Shaw. “I intentionally put him in with someone that was bigger. Thompson had a height and weight advantage. I knew that would all be a factor, but the end result was something that I knew would happen.”

Unlike Slice’s exhibition victory against former heavyweight boxer Ray Mercer (KO 1) and his two previous MMA knockouts of Tank Abbott (KO 1) and Bob Cantrell (KO 1), Kimbo Slice, whose name is Kevin Ferguson, really had to work hard to break Thompson down.

From the opening round, Kimbo Slice, a 32 year-old from the Bahamas, displayed plenty of MMA moves such as leg sweeps, arm-bar take downs, ground-and-pound grappling, and even attempted the guillotine choke on a few occasions.

In other words, Kimbo Slice has proved to be more than a one-punch knockout artist.

“Kimbo showed MMA ability,” Shaw continued. “Kimbo Slice is showing why the sport is called Mixed Martial Arts. Kimbo Slice showed my the sport isn’t jujitsu, boxing, or kickboxing. He put it all together. He appealed to the hardcore fans and the general public.”

Shaw added: “He deserves a lot of credit for putting and event of this magnitude, the first MMA event to be broadcast on national television. He deserves credit and respect from the world.

Thompson, 29, Manchester, England, nearly proved to be too dangerous of an opponent for Slice. Towards the final 90 seconds of the second round, Thompson had Slice in a defense position.

Slice, trapped in an uncomfortable position against cage, took a series of right and lefts across his head. Thompson even landed a couple of elbows behind Slice’s head and attempted to force Kimbo to submit, via the arm bar.

It was an anxious moment for all at ringside, fearing a referee stoppage.

“There is a concern for a referee stoppage always,” Shaw said. “Thompson wasn’t landing flush punches. They didn’t have a lot of power. Kimbo did give the ref a thumb up letting him know that he was okay.”

An exhausted Kimbo Slice returned to his corner at the end of the second round. He knew that he had to step-up his attack and avoid getting taken down to the mat once again.

In the third round, Kimbo Slice hurt Thompson with a series of combinations to his head. Perhaps the highlight of Kimbo Slice’s combination punching was a right hook that staggered Thompson against the cage and busted his eardrum open.

The bout was stopped 38 seconds into the third and fin al round.

Kimbo Slice’s Tyson-Effect

Kimbo Slice is in some ways similar to former undisputed world heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson. Both are Black and come to the ring dressed in black. Slice and Tyson (in his prime), possess one-punch knockout power in either hand.

“I do think he’s like Tyson,” Shaw added. “Not too many people are finishers. Tyson had had that killer instinct. Kimbo has it too.”

Also, people were fascinated with Tyson’s aura and his meanness. Slice is an articulate man, but carries a mental street toughness into the MMA world. Slice has the kind of mental and physical toughness that can lure people in to the MMA world just to see Kimbo knock someone out.

Shaw concluded: “I have a duty to Kimbo Slice to lead him to become world champion. He doesn’t just do this for money. He does this for pride, the love, and respect of the game – the respect of the streets.”

Elite XC televised Undercard results

EliteXC middleweight champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (15-4) stopped Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith (15-4) in the third round, but since a world tile fight must last three whole rounds to be official, the fight was entered as a No-Contest.

Gina Carano (6-0) TKO’d Kaitlin Young (4-2) at the end of the second round

Joey Villasenor (26-6) KO’d Phil Baroni (10-10) in the first round.

Brett Rogers (7-0) knocked out Jon Murphy (4-3) in the first round.