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Gary Shaw Thinks Kimbo Is MMA’s Best Heavyweight Striker (Among Other Things)

(A photo apparently taken in the alternate universe where Gary Shaw resides.)

The more interviews with Elite XC’s Gary Shaw I read, the more I wonder if he’s fully in control of the things he says to reporters. He does know they’re writing this stuff down, right? If so, he either doesn’t know what he’s talking about or doesn’t have much of a commitment to the truth. Maybe it’s both. But this interview with AOL Sports is just, well, baffling.

For instance, when asked where Shaw would rank Kimbo Slice in MMA’s heavyweight picture, he had this to say:

“I don’t know. He’s still in the learning process. He needs to work on his cardio a lot more. In his stand-up game, he is probably number one. I don’t think on the ground he’s in the top 10. As a striker, he’s probably number one.”

You read that right, the best heavyweight striker in all of MMA. Number one. I was about to list off a bunch of other heavyweights who are probably better pure strikers than Kimbo, but within a few seconds that list became unmanageable and I was forced to abandon the idea. The point is, this is not a true statement. If Gary Shaw believes it to be true, that simply means that he doesn’t know much about the sport. If he doesn’t believe it but is saying it anyway, is he helping or hurting Kimbo Slice?

I ask this because, objectively, I want to get behind Kimbo. He seems like a good guy with a lot of potential. But it’s difficult to support him when Shaw calls him everything but the son of God. It sets the bar unreasonably high, and when level-headed people like Bas Rutten try to remind us that Kimbo has only had a handful of fights it’s hard to balance that perspective with Shaw’s ridiculous claims.

It makes it doubly difficult when he also says things like this, regarding a possible Randy Couture-Fedor Emelianenko fight in Elite XC:

I don’t have either fighter, so I doubt it. Randy is in a legal battle with UFC. That fight doesn’t personally excite me because Fedor hasn’t fought anybody of any quality in quite some time.

Now, we’ve all heard (and sometimes made) the argument that Fedor’s status has slipped because of his inactivity in the past year and a half. But it’s one thing to make that argument in the big picture of MMA’s heavyweight class, and it’s another thing to make it right after you’ve promoted a main event between Kimbo Slice and James Thompson.

Here’s a fun thought experiment: imagine that Elite XC did have Fedor under contract. Imagine that somehow he had successfully dealt with the “crazy Russians” and signed him to a deal. What would Shaw say then? Would he still denigrate Fedor’s accomplishments, or would he have a much different perspective?

Because if we’re looking at quality of opponents, Fedor undoubtedly has the edge over Kimbo, who has fought only one opponent with a winning record in his brief career. And yet, if someone criticizes Kimbo we get reminded that he’s still fairly new to the sport. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t hold Kimbo to one standard because of his inexperience while holding everyone else to another one. You can’t ask us not to expect too much out of Kimbo while simultaneously claiming that he’s the best striker in the heavyweight division.

The best striker in the heavyweight division would have taken out James Thompson in the first round. How do I know? Because that’s what several people who are decidedly not the best strikers in MMA (Aleks Emelianenko, Brett Rogers, Butterbean, etc.) have done.

The irony is that Shaw’s strategy of building up Kimbo by making untenable claims about his ability only hurts him in the long run. It drives up expectations and increases skepticism. It may allow Shaw to pocket more money in the short term, but it ultimately makes Kimbo’s job (and Bas Rutten’s) harder.

Of course, there is always that other possibility, that Shaw just doesn’t know enough about MMA to realize how nonsensical he sounds. Oddly, that position is also supported by the same interview, where he refuses to compare Elite XC with UFC 84 (he didn’t watch it) and admits that he doesn’t know who’s fighting on UFC 85 (how about Matt Hughes? that guy who was with Robbie Lawler at your show? ring any bells?) He also says he’s interested in signing any fighters not under contract, as long as they are “action fighters”, because he doesn’t want any fighters “who want to sit on the mat and have a love fest.”

Is it just me, or is Gary Shaw sounding more and more like the guy you dread sitting next to at a live MMA show? You know, the guy who thinks Kimbo is the best striker in the world, doesn’t really know who Matt Hughes is, and thinks fighting on the ground is either boring or gay, maybe both?

While Elite XC’s ratings success on CBS was indeed encouraging for MMA fans, some of these recent comments from the engineer behind it all are decidedly less so.

(-Ben Fowlkes)


Cagepotato Comments

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enlightenment- October 3, 2008 at 5:15 am
rico you're stupid to a degree that not many have reached, for that I applaud you,yet saying shit like that is beyond belief. though not worthy to even step foot in the ring with him I'm not even going to continue
rapevictim- October 3, 2008 at 5:11 am
gary shaw=slug piece of shit, kimbo= retarded pawn. i hope kimbo get his leg ripped off
rico- August 27, 2008 at 3:07 am
to be honest, if the fight was purely on the feet i dont see any heavyweight beating kimbo, as far as all around mma he's not even top 15, but as far as just striking and stand up, i dont see anyone beating him
Iron Dragon- June 9, 2008 at 10:38 pm
Gary Shaw is the worst thing to happen to MMA this decade. EliteXC is a joke. Kimbo is overrated as hell. BOO for you CBS!
Participant- June 5, 2008 at 9:27 am
@ JustinD:

"[Kimbo] is probably the second most scary looking black person on the planet followed by Charlie Murphy."

Haha! That's the truth. Charlie Murphy has them crazy eyes with the temperment of a hungry animal. Funny as hell though, just keep him fed.
Clyde- June 4, 2008 at 10:08 pm
I love the "as long as they are action fighters" bit.

I want to organise an MMA event where there's no ground fighting. Just the bits where they punch and kick each other, you know, like in kick boxing.

I think someone has a pretty loose definition of mixed (key word right there) martial arts.
C-Bus Allstar- June 4, 2008 at 12:55 pm
I think Gary Shaw is the real "White Don King".
bc- June 4, 2008 at 11:14 am
wow, great post, i am disliking elite xc more and more each day.
Jim- June 4, 2008 at 8:52 am
Wow...he really looks like Bobby "The Brain" Heenan....Let's get the Weasel chant going!!!!
idamanjj- June 4, 2008 at 8:25 am
I will just say this, Kimbo is in the wrong hands, they are going to milk him for what he's worth, then dump him. Its all bout the money, and when its stops coming in so will Kimbo, look at Gonzaga for example, a lil different story, but still Money trumps, and when Kimbo finally gets knocked out i dont think anyone will want to fight him!
Obama-nation- June 4, 2008 at 7:36 am
It's all fixed chumps, like NBA, and boxing, fixed fixed fixed!
Donald Trump- June 4, 2008 at 6:56 am
Stop sucking Rutten's balls, he's in on it too.
He likes money, he likes fame, fuck him... dont make him out to be this virtuous soul amongst the bad Gary Shaw's of the world. He hitched on to the Kimbo hype machine for better or worse. He's the guy who is supposed to make us believe that Slice is legit. Every con needs a guy like that.

Kimbo couldnt knock out a guy with a glass jaw and he' calling him the best standup guy?
Not only dont I think Kimbo punches arent as strong as Butterbean's
but it seems that even Gina Carano did more damage.
What did Kimbo damage? A big balloon of an ear, ready to burst?
A retarded offspring of Adam Sandler could have hit that target.
Slice couldnt knock down a guy WHO WAS HIRED to be knocked down,
that's like not being able to score with a hooker.
grant- June 4, 2008 at 5:43 am
MarleyMarl elloquently states the truth. Say what you will about Dana White, he may be a jerk, he may be a shrewd businessman, but one thing's for sure: hes a s*** ton more respectable than Gary Shaw. Shaw disgraces the sport. I want so badly to put Kimbo against Fedor (or ANYONE good), and watch how pathetically he gets obliterated. That would send a sensitive reminder to the casual MMA fan who's lost in Kimbo-mania, and expose the flaws in EliteXC's game.
SiDeBuRnZ- June 4, 2008 at 1:31 am
Hell no bpd!!! HELLO NO!!! Everyone knows that Bret "Hitman" Hart is the best tactical striker and will put you on your ass!!
MarleyMarl- June 4, 2008 at 12:28 am
Garry Shaw is just a fat, dumb, ugly cunt, and elitexc sucks.
bpd- June 4, 2008 at 12:05 am
That's ridiculous. Everyone who has watched SmackDown since the recent MMA explosion knows that Undertaker is the "best pure striker" out there and will make your mouth bleed with "that lethal submission hold".
Warcraft- June 3, 2008 at 11:32 pm
White vs Shaw place your bets.
If Shaw gets to wear hes track suit in the cage hes got this in the bag.

I hope Shaws lips aren't to raw from blowing kimbo.
john- June 3, 2008 at 8:35 pm
gary shaw v dana i would pay to see thatv
Mistassmo- June 3, 2008 at 8:30 pm
Well said Ben. That was an excellent bit if writing man, I totally agree that Shaw may be trying to pander to the men that boo at the fights, while sensationalizing the sport to the point of fixed fights (the most recent card being a great example), in an attempt to capture the worship status of pro-wrestlers
jim- June 3, 2008 at 8:03 pm
what a tool
sol- June 3, 2008 at 8:02 pm
That line about action fighters and not people who lie on the floor made me laugh.
You think he might bring the YAMMA bowl to EXC? :P
Face- June 3, 2008 at 7:35 pm
Don't be surprised to see Gary Shaw on the next CBS show with "Just Bleed" painted on his chest!
fightfan- June 3, 2008 at 6:42 pm
It is hilarious when Shaw says Kimbo is number 1 striker in mma...But still he will only put him against sub 500, over the hill, weak chinned, quitters before they fight fighters.

If Kimbo is such a great striker, why wont Shaw show how great he is instead of trying to find the oldest over the hill, worst fighters he can to put against him
Cutthr0at- June 3, 2008 at 6:37 pm
It's funny because before I knew who Gary Shaw was I was watching EXC and enjoying it. The more I hear from him the more I wish he would just go back to boxing and take EXC with him.
Smackdaddiest1- June 3, 2008 at 6:34 pm
Gary Shaw is to EliteXc as Eric Bischoff is to WCW, good in the short term, eventually run out of town and will have to beg for a job from the competition.