(Disclaimer: I am no MMA expert. I like the sport, and have for a long time. If you want really great MMA talk, head over to our brother site, Bloody Elbow.)
There has been some talk lately about EliteXC MMA star and YouTube streetfighting legend Kimbo Slice fighting former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in, well, some sort of fight. It is just talk -- it will not happen.
But screw it -- we're all fans. That's why back in the day, people talked about what would happen between Tyson and Ali or Tyson and Marciano or whatever other potential fight. It's why we talk today about Mayweather against Leonard or Mayweather against Duran or Hearns or whomever -- fights, of course, all that Mayweather would lose, a sign that no matter what, everyone will almost always favor the old guys.
Go ahead, go down to a bar sometime and ask some oldster if anyone in the last 40 years has been as good as Willie Mays or even close to it. Ask your dad if Tom Brady is any Joe Montana. No coach can hold a candle to Woody, Bo or Bear. That's just the way it is. Youthful admiration clouds the minds of many in these debates.
But that's all off the topic a little bit. What would happen if the 36-year old Kimbo Slice fought the 41-year old Mike Tyson, who hasn't fought competitively in years and has ballooned up to near 300 pounds, it appears?
I'll tell you what would happen. Kimbo Slice would knock Mike Tyson out.
Lots of MMA detractors and even MMA fans dislike Kimbo Slice. They have no love for his streetfighting exploits, and it's true that there's something very gutter and legitimately "street" about the guy. One of his sponsors is Reality Kings -- if you're over 15, male, and have been on the internet in the wee hours of the morn', you know what that is. Hardly something to represent a professional athlete.
Me? I like Kimbo. For one thing, he often doesn't get enough credit for being a legitimate and talented athlete. The man can fight, and more than that, he's a real physical specimen. This is not a freakshow situation, and it's not a pot-bellied brawler like Tank Abbott, the guy Slice last waxed in a sanctioned bout. (A fight, by the way, that felt a little bit scummy and uncomfortable to watch, even for someone that didn't expect much of anything out of it.)
When we last saw Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 KO), he was being beaten down by Kevin McBride, mere months after Danny Williams unceremoniously bombed him out in four rounds in Louisville.
It's been nine years since Mike Tyson last fought in Las Vegas, the epicenter of boxing. He's been seen in Manchester, Glasgow, Auburn Hills, Copenhagen, Memphis, Louisville, and D.C. since then, but his fights past the Holyfield two-fer in 1996-97 were circus acts, even the bout with legitimate champion Lennox Lewis in 2002, which was a gross mismatch and, eventually, a slaughter.
Tyson is not in fighting shape. Even if he got himself into fighting shape, Kimbo has been actively training. He stays in good shape all the time.
If this fight happened, it wouldn't last three minutes. Tyson go down. Hard.
One of the other things I like about Kimbo is that even if you see the streetfights as barbaric and somewhat disturbing -- which they could be -- there was always a sportsman-like quality about the man. There were fights where guys didn't want to quit fighting even after it was completely obvious they couldn't touch Slice, and Kimbo wanted them to be over with. They were fights with agreed-to rules, and Slice did not break those rules. He didn't gouge out eyes or bite anyone's ears off (sorry), or any other rumor you might have ever heard about a Kimbo Slice streetfight.
But they were unfair and there was something a little off-putting about that.
Look, this is a guy that obviously had some sort of formal fight training at some point in his life, well before he hooked up with Bas Rutten and got serious about mixed martial arts. His head movement, his posture, the way he came in defensively -- those aren't the usual streetfighting antics. Look at most of the guys he fought. Those were streetfighters, guys with no idea what they were doing.
And that's another reason he'd knock Tyson out in short order. Not only is he younger, in better shape, more focused, less of a mental case, more together, better trained at this point, all that. He's a real fighter. He is not the freak show act that some people will make him out to be. He can fight. For real. He's not Emmanuel Yarborough or anything.
Does anyone think Tyson still packs the punch to KO Slice? Because he'd almost have to do it with a very fast combination or one big shot. I'm not saying Tyson can't still hit hard, but Kimbo is a big man (generally around 230-240 pounds of solid muscle) and also hits like a truck. His punching power is no myth.
In a boxing ring, one might automatically favor Tyson. I do not. Boxing is what Kimbo chiefly employs in MMA for the time being. Under MMA rules, he already knows 100 times more than Tyson ever has about the rest of the game. But it would almost certainly be boxing rules, you'd think.
Gary Shaw, the promoter of Slice and EliteXC, has said he's not encouraging the bout, but that he would have to consider it if it became a situation where it could really be a reality, simply because it would make a lot of money. His idea that it would be the "most-watched pay-per-view" in history is way off, but he's right in that it would make a lot of dough -- and most likely it wouldn't hurt his man at all.
But if Slice did pound Tyson, would you really think more of Kimbo as a result?
Kimbo is a real star athlete. He's not even scratched the surface, perhaps, of the fighter he could be, and he's already arguably the most recognizable personality in MMA. There are better fighters -- hundreds, probably -- but none of them have that star quality that he does. Hulk Hogan wasn't the world's best professional wrestler, either, and Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't much of an actor. Both made a lot of money in their professions.
Here's a bonus question: Would YOU pay roughly 50 bucks to see Kimbo fight Mike Tyson?