Elite XC "Saturday Night Fights" is set to go off live from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., this Saturday, May 31 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. To get us prepared for the historic event, we plan to showcase a daily feature for each main card fight leading up to the historic mixed martial arts debut on network television. These features will include information on the fighters, predictions, as well as training notes and quotes from each fighter.
The main event of the historic Elite XC event is a heavyweight scrap between Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson (2-0) and James "The Colossus" Thompson (14-8). There are several folks who feel this fight is unworthy of main event status. Mainly because Kimbo hasn't earned the right to be there and because a lot of people look at James Thompson as a fighter with a weak chin who has been hand-picked for Kimbo.
We'll find out tonight how it all works out and corresponding reaction. For now let's breakdown the bout.
Here's a little background on each fighter:
Kimbo Slice -- Slice made his name knocking out thugs in backyard Miami-area street fights, then posting the video footage on YouTube.com. People took a liking to him right away. His trademark beard and "Give me my bread" quote are just two of the things that made him so popular so fast. His 15 minutes quickly turned into possible long-term stardom when he decided to turn his act pro.
Fight promoter and Elite XC Live Events President, Gary Shaw, jumped at the chance to put Kimbo in the cage. Since joining Elite XC, Kimbo has made short work of his two opponents, Bo Cantrell and Tank Abbott, winning both fights in a combined one minute and two seconds.
Shaw -- who is a long-time promoter in the boxing world -- has said numerous times that Kimbo has the ability to not only be a champion in mixed martial arts, but he could also be the next big boxing heavyweight champion.
That's how talented some people think this guy can be, whether it's actually to be believed is up to you.
At 34 years old, the clock is ticking for this guy to make his mark in MMA if he's going to. And to do that he can't fight "has beens" like Tank and "never will be's" like Bo for too much longer. Eventually he's going to have to be tested.
Perhaps James Thompson is that test.
James Thompson -- "The Colossus" is a 29-year-old British-born fighter who has recently moved to the United States to concentrate more on his mixed martial arts career.
He made his professional MMA debut in January of 2003. He won six of his first seven fights, including a win over UFC Hall of Fame inductee, Dan Severn. That streak caught the eye of the people over at Pride FC and offered him a chance to fight Aleksander Emelianenko -- the little brother of Fedor. Aleksander went on to knock him out in 11 seconds.
He rebounded from that loss to win his next six fights, including three more for Pride FC.
From there Thompson has kind of gone on to be the guy who gets knocked out a lot. He's lost six of his last eight fights. And five of those six losses were knockouts.
He has surprised people in the past with upset wins in Pride over Don Frye and Hidehiko Yoshida, but Thompson is literally hit or miss. It's anyone's guess which James Thompson will show up Saturday night.
Training notes and quotes:
Kimbo Slice -- Since turning professional, Kimbo has been training with one of the better heavyweight fighters of all time, Bas Rutten. "El Guapo" is legendary for calling the fights in Pride as an announcer and just being an all around crazy guy. His fight resume isn't too shabby either ... 28-4-1.
Kimbo is in good hands with Bas.
Bas has said many times that Kimbo has the work ethic and the natural talent to become great in this sport. We all know he can hit hard and that he's got a great left hook, but a lot of people want to see if he's learned anything else from Bas.
Here's a quote from Kimbo on his trainer Bas Rutten:
"Bas is the man. You know what I'm saying? Can't get a better trainer, a better coach a better adviser of the sport and of the game. I mean he explains everything to me why. And to my knowledge I can pick it up better. I can understand the cause and the effect of everything, and I wouldn't want to change that."
Here's more from the recent press conference on Thompson:
"I don't underestimate any fighter. Just because he has lost a couple fights, doesn't mean he isn't going to come out strong.''
And on all the hype surrounding him:
"Well, I look at it like this. Those type of things are more for the fans than anybody, and I continue to concentrate on my training and what I have to do. Like he said, I know what is at stake here and I know what it means to me you know, so to take a few minutes or an hour out of my time you know that's fine, that's cool. You know when I get back to training you know I train and that's what's up."
Finally, on his ground game:
"I think each fighter (is effective) and I never underestimate our opponent. You know, if I was training someone to fight me, that's what I would work on. I would have my opponent try to take me to the ground, but that's where they're going to underestimate me you know."
Perhaps Slice can shock the world and demonstrate his ground skills if Thompson can get him there. That'd be something.
James Thompson -- "The Colossus" trained mostly with the Wolf's Lair in England for the beginning of his career, but moved over to the states and joined Extreme Couture to help train for the Brett Rogers fight. He said the guys he was sparring with weren't big enough in England and he needed a change to help take his career to the next level.
The move didn't help him too much as Rogers was able to win with a first round knockout. Since then Thompson has left Extreme Couture and has moved back to his native England. For this fight he's been training out of a gym called London Street Fighters.
Here's a snip from Thompson on the move again:
"I’m training with a team called London Street Fighters at the moment in England. You know I spent some time actually (deciding where to train). I joined a great team with great people. I learn from them. The problem was Shawn Thompkins has done a lot of work with Bas and Kimbo. I didn’t want to put him in such an awkward position. Shawn is a great guy. So I started looking for all the teams and followed up on one in England. It’s all been going great for me."
Here's more from Thompson leading up to the fight:
"You know, obviously, I'm being brought in to – I'm mean I'm a big guy, I'm an exciting fighter, I look big and mean but you know they're hoping I get knocked on the chin and that's not over for me. I mean fans will call me 'James See You Later.' It doesn't matter to me. That doesn't bother me at all. It doesn't bother me because it gives me a chance (to make amends). I mean after my last few fights, I don't think I really deserve the chance. But to get this chance (is massive) to me. I mean it really is a big thing and I intend to take full advantage of it."
And his prediction for the fight:
"There are so many different elements in it. I wouldn't even like to predict where the fight's going to go. All I know is I'm training hard. I'm sure Kimbo's training hard. You know we both come to fight, we both come to entertain and we both come to give our all. So all I know is it's going to be one exciting fight."
Let's just hope it lasts longer than one minute.
How the fight will go:
Kimbo wants to knockout Thompson and Thompson wants to stay awake.
Thompson is known for bum rushing his opponents from the opening bell. He did that against Brett Rogers and immediately went for the takedown, which he was successful in getting more than once. The problem was he couldn't hold him there. However, Rogers is a lot bigger than Kimbo. If Kimbo gets put on the mat, Thompson might have an easier time controlling him.
But that's the mystery of Kimbo Slice as a fighter. We know he can hit. We've seen he can take a hit. But what's his ground game like? Bas Rutten raves about his work ethic and fast learning pace, but is that all talk to hype up his fighter?
I think Thompson will be looking for the takedown and Kimbo will be looking to avoid that. Either way, we know Kimbo has knockout power and Thompson has a glass jaw. That combination usually only leads to one outcome.
Here's what I see happening:
Thompson will give his classic staredown and as soon as the bell rings, he'll do his bull charge thing. Kimbo knows that's coming and he'll be ready ... Bas will have him prepared.
But it's one thing to train to defend that kind of attack, and it's a something else to actually be in a cage with a 6'5" 255-pound man rushing at you trying to hurt you in front of millions of people. If in fact Kimbo does get taken down, the fight could get interesting. But if it doesn't, it won't stay interesting for long.
I say as soon as Kimbo hits Thompson, he's going to sleep, and that's going to happen really early in the fight.
Kimbo via first round knockout
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of the main card action, beginning at 9 p.m. ET with the CBS broadcast on fight night. In addition, we will post the latest quick results of the prelim action at around 7 p.m. ET.
Have a good night of fights all. I know I will. Feel free to leave your predictions and pre-fight thoughts in the comments section below.