Why would the UFC want Kimbo Slice on The Ultimate Fighter?
The UFC has been very successful by drawing hardcore message board posting fanatics alongside mainstream casual fans. They walk the line carefully and it has paid off for them. Kimbo represents a portion of the public the UFC has yet to capture. They are spectacle fans. The type of people who want to see something for the sake of seeing it. They don't necessarily care about MMA all that much. There are a lot of them and Kimbo brings them in.
The Ultimate Fighter operates as a giant advertisement for the UFC's PPVs. During commercial breaks they almost always run a PPV promo. The more people watching the show, the more who see the promos. Kimbo's presence increases promo viewership. It's all about the money.
How much is Kimbo being paid to be on the show?
According to Dana White, it is a standard Ultimate Fighter contestant agreement. He will get paid the same amount as the rest of the cast. The difference is what happens after the show. Kimbo and the UFC have an agreement in place for a lucrative contract, if he ends up fighting in the UFC (White's words were, "If he makes it into the UFC, his contract is different.")
Why would Kimbo want to be on the show?
I think in some ways Kimbo resents the way EliteXC used him. They rushed him into the spotlight and never gave him a chance to develop. He went along with it because they paid him obscene amounts of money. It's not like he was a victim, but I definitely believe he was relieved when the ride ended with the loss to Seth Petruzelli.
Being on The Ultimate Fighter is a chance to salvage his career. EliteXC Kimbo was an artificial bubble. We all knew it was a matter of time before it popped. UFC Kimbo has the opportunity to put a solid foundation under his stardom. All he really needs to do is train hard and win a fight. Do that and he's fighting for the UFC following the season.
Wasn't Kimbo getting offers elsewhere?
Yes, but nothing close to the UFC's offer. Think about it like this...The UFC offers you a chance to be on TV, work with top notch trainers, and a large contract if you make it to the UFC. He doesn't have to win the whole thing to get the contract. Most of the contestants on previous seasons of The Ultimate Fighter end up fighting in the UFC. It's really a tremendous offer.
Kimbo's other options were Strikeforce, Japan, or boxing. Strikeforce did not offer a big contract. They operate under a strict budget (one of the reasons I respect the hell out of them) and they did not plan on using Kimbo as a main event fighter. The Japanese promotions were in the mix, however, Kimbo would have had to be a cartoon character the rest of his career. The last option was boxing with Gary Shaw as his manager. A noose and a ledge is a better option than having Gary Shaw manage your career.
Does Kimbo have a chance at winning the show?
Probably not. Despite being in main events on network TV, Kimbo is inexperienced. The TUF casts usually have a couple terrible guys, mostly mediocre guys, and 1-2 studs. Kimbo falls in the mediocre category. Good enough to win a fight, but not a contender.
His concentration needs to be on training hard. One of the best reasons for going on TUF is getting noticed by training camps. If a fighter like Junie Browning can end up with Xtreme Couture, I see no reason why Kimbo won't get a similar opportunity.
Enough Kimbo stuff. Who else is on the show?
At this point the full list is not out. We do know there will be four guys who could sorta be called former NFL players. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. At least two of them should be solid - Marcus Jones and Brendan Schaub. I'm pegging Schaub as the early favorite until I see the rest of the list.
When does the season begin?
They began filming this week. It will premiere September 16th on Spike TV.
I still hate Kimbo. Do you?
Nope. I can't help but be interested in how this pans out. He's taking a chance and it'll be fun to watch. If he fails, I'll enjoy it. If he succeeds, I'll enjoy it. Seeing people attempt to perform under pressure is one of my favorite things to watch on TV. No one has ever had this sort of pressure on them in the Ultimate Fighter house. We've seen fighters crack over trivial issues like missing their girlfriend. Imagine what Kimbo will be going through. It's fascinating no matter how you look at it.