I’m new to MMA, and to look at these two fighters, I immediately picked Kimbo Slice – in all his big, cut, scary glory – as the potentially superior fighter to fat-bellied Roy Nelson. Nelson has skinny arms, less reach, more gut, and he just screams “redneck.” Of course Slice (whose real name is Kevin Ferguson) screams “thug,” especially in light of his backyard brawling history.
But Roy – an IFL Heavyweight Champion – showed himself to be not only the better fighter, he also demonstrated something far more impressive: he knows how to completely control a fight. He used just enough power to win the fight and no more. It seemed clear to me that Roy could have wreaked serious damage on Kimbo but he didn’t do it; he was already winning by a clear margin. In a sport often filled with blood and damage, Nelson showed skill, respect, and even (after the fight was over) a little humor at his own expense. “Can you get me a double whopper with cheese?” he asked the guys ringside. He knows how people think of him, but he’s pretty secure in his own ability, as well he should be.
The fight looked like it might be mostly a stand-up game at first, with both men circling slowly, throwing only a very few lightning-quick strikes to the head before backing off, seemingly unready to engage. They looked patient and deadly, Slice even more so than Nelson. Toward the end of the first 5-minute round Roy was able to force the drop, pinning Kimbo in a crucifix position while he spent the final 45 seconds of the round pummelling Slice’s head until the bell rang. Dana White later criticized Nelson’s punches, saying his own little girls drop harder punches. I didn’t, however, hear White volunteer to be pinned in the crucifix by Nelson’s considerable weight so that he could actually test that theory out.
The second round ended in a TKO as Nelson got Slice in the same exact position and began his rain of punches to the head with no defense possible from Slice. This loss supposedly eliminates Slice from the competition, but the fight was hardly even over before Dana White was on camera hinting that Kimbo would be back. Smart marketing, in my opinion. Slice is a great fighter, possible one of the top three in this season’s group, and the watching world (me included!) would love to see him go again.