(Will brawl for food.)
Now that Strikeforce is getting its Pro Elite ducks in a row, we’re all wondering what, if anything, they’ll decide to do with Kimbo Slice. He was an undeniable draw for EliteXC, but he also came with a hefty price tag that was maybe, just maybe, not justified by his performance in the cage, particularly in his last fight against Seth Petruzelli.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker seems sympathetic to the plight of the internet brawler, but perhaps not so much that he’s willing to keep paying him the six-figure salary Pro Elite did:
“I think that if you look back at the past, he could have been built up to have the fights that he needed to face the Seth Petruzellis of the world and be successful, but he wasn’t given the opportunity,” said Coker. “When I look at Kimbo, I don’t look at it as his fault. He was in a ‘no win’ situation.”
Kimbo’s manager, “Icey” Mike Imber, indicated that while he wasn’t enthusiastic about a pay-cut for his fighter, he’d consider it rather than keep him out of action indefinitely. But one thing’s for sure, Bas Rutten will not be training Slice. Ever.
Talking with MMA Fanhouse’s Michael David Smith, Rutten alluded to some problems outside of the gym that caused a split between the two men:
I know you’ve worked closely with Kimbo Slice. When do you think we’ll see Kimbo fight again, and will you be in his corner again when he does?
I stopped training Kimbo. I had him six weeks before the last fight (a loss to Seth Petruzelli on October 4), I talked to him about certain things that I didn’t like, and he promised never to do it again, and then he started doing it again. If people come to me and ask me to train them, I want them to do what I tell them to do, because that’s what they came for. … Once you start doing different things, you’re out. It’s not because he got knocked out. This was already in progress long before the fight.
So you basically don’t think Kimbo was preparing the right way?
I would rather just leave it like this: Let’s say that the Kimbo who came to me at the beginning of training, that wasn’t the Kimbo who was at my gym the last time. Six weeks before his last fight, I told him, I want that Kimbo back. Otherwise, you’re out. And you know, he started doing differently again. Let’s just leave it like that. I don’t want to go into all the details. I wish him nothing but the best. Really, I really do.
Do you have an opinion of how good a fighter Kimbo could be?
When Kimbo came in and did everything, he had huge potential. I said that in interviews. He was doing good, he did everything. He was doing good. He was doing really good. But he started to change. If he would have kept on training like he did in the beginning, yeah, I saw a really good future for him.
Well, that’s not a good sign. Bas Rutten’s endorsement used to be the greatest thing Kimbo had going for him in the world of knowledgeable MMA fans. Whatever you might think of his background or his public persona or the amount of money he was making that was in no way commensurate with his abilities, at least Bas liked him. At least Bas saw something worth nurturing in him. No more. Now Bas says he wouldn’t train the guy for “a million dollars.”
Whatever Kimbo did to bring about this change in attitude, it must have been bad. Bas Rutten is the same guy who called Jerry Millen an “asshole” during the last Affliction broadcast (which he also discusses with MDS, saying only that he wishes he hadn’t said it live on the air, not that he doesn’t still believe it), so you know he’s a good judge of character, not to mention hairstyles.