Kimbo losing? No big deal. He only has six professional fights under his belt. Kimbo losing because of the training he’s getting? That’s what we call a big problem. I know, American Top Team is one of the best places to train for mixed martial arts. I get that. But they have really dropped the ball when it comes to training Kimbo.
Let’s take it all the way back, to YouTube. Kimbo was an internet sensation. All he did was knock people out. Those fights lasted about 60 seconds, all striking. Who knows how many street fights Kimbo has been a part of? What you can tell is that he has power and knows how to throw a punch. His only street loss was to a former Boston police officer who trained in MMA. The popularity of the fight propelled him into the MMA spotlight.
Enter Bas Rutten, former MMA fighter turned MMA trainer. Bas trained Kimbo for MMA and guided Kimbo to his first few wins. Rutten would eventually release Kimbo from his gym because he was frustrated that Kimbo wouldn’t do what he said and what Kimbo was doing was affecting his cardio training. And you could clearly see that in Kimbo’s fight with James Thompson. He was easily winning the standup, but when Thompson took him down and stayed on top of him Kimbo gassed out quick. He couldn’t even get up after the bell he was so tired. Clue number one. Zero cardio. You can’t win fights if you get tired after one round.
EliteXC folds some time after, and Kimbo becomes a free agent. When asked about signing him, Dana White said the only way Kimbo gets into the UFC is if he joins The Ultimate Fighter house.
Slice would eventually take Dana White up on his offer and try and fight his way into the UFC. During the show you could see his overall improvement, but his cardio and takedown defense was still lacking. It was later revealed that Kimbo has arthritis in his knee. Clue number two. Defend the takedown. You can’t be putting unnecessary stress on bad knees by rolling around on the ground for position.
After the show Kimbo would go back home to Florida and start training with American Top Team, his first MMA gym since leaving Bas Rutten’s EliteMMA. Great choice, or so it seemed. Kimbo’s first fight coming from ATT was against fellow knockout artist Houston Alexancer, a fight which Slice dominated from the bell. Alexander seemed scared of Kimbo. When they exchanged, Kimbo got the better of Houston, and when they clinched, Kimbo suplexed him and kept top control. People were quick to credit ATT with the improvement. However, I didn’t see anything new from Kimbo. He has strength, knew that. He can throw punches, knew that. What I did see was a Kimbo Slice lacking in the cardio department. I knew that too. ATT has some great trainers, Ricardo Liborio and Howard Davis Jr. to name two. They have trained current and past champions. So it comes as a shock to me that they would fail so bad with Kimbo.
Just going by his past fights, it is painfully obvious that Kimbo needs cardio and takedown defense training. Nothing more, nothing less. His striking might not be the most technical, but it gets the job done. If he had takedown defense or any cardio he could be a dangerous player in the division. But it seems to me neither skill has improved, and that’s a direct indictment of his coaches. It is a coach’ responsibility to bring out the best in his student and to improve on his weaknesses. They did neither. It looked like Kimbo learned some submission defense in his fight with Matt Mitrione, but he gassed out in the first round much like he did in the James Thompson fight. And much like the Thompson fight, Kimbo couldn’t stay off his back. Result: Kimbo loses via TKO to Matt Mitrione. Sure, Kimbo took Mitrione down and controlled him for much of the first round, but that wasn’t training. That was pure beasting on Kimbo’s part.
Now Kimbo finds himself with an apparent release from the UFC looming and pretty much back at square one. All of this should have and could have been avoided if the trainers and teammates at American Top Team would have recognized that Kimbo is too old to learn all these fancy new tricks, that they should have just trained him to go 7 minute rounds and to keep the fight standing so he can land the knockout punch. All other training for someone like Kimbo is a waste.