Mixed martial arts legend Ken Shamrock and YouTube street brawler Kimbo Slice were originally supposed to meet in the main event of an Elite XC show in October 2008. Shamrock suffered a cut while warming up and withdrew from the fight very shortly before it was supposed to take place. His replacement was former TUF 2 kickboxer Seth Petruzelli, who took the fight on literally a few hours notice. What ended up happening was nothing short of the most incredible victory in the history of mixed martial arts:
That was the last Elite XC event ever. What a way to go out.
Now, seven years later, Kimbo and Shamrock are once again set to do battle, this time in the Bellator cage. And because both of them have fought in the UFC, I can use my statistical prediction model to estimate each fighter’s chances of winning.
The one thing Kimbo was able to do fairly well in the UFC was land takedowns. He generally got takedowns by virtue of brute strength rather than technique, but he was able to land four takedowns against Houston Alexander and two against Matt Mitrione. Of course, Shamrock probably won’t mind if Kimbo takes him down; Shamrock’s best attack is leglock submission holds, and Kimbo had to fight off four submission attempts by Mitrione, who recently tapped out very quickly after being placed in a modified guillotine hold by Ben Rothwell.
The good news for Kimbo is that he’ll have the advantage standing, despite having a dismal statistical record in significant strikes. Kimbo was out-landed 58 to 16 in standing strikes in the UFC (I guess that should have been a sign that his boxing career wasn’t going to take off). That’s still better than Shamrock, who landed 25 significant strikes in six UFC fights after making his comeback in 2002. Rich Franklin landed 23 strikes to Shamrock’s zero in just over two minutes at the first Ultimate Fighter Finale.
Kimbo also has the youth advantage despite now being 41 years old. That still makes him ten years younger than Shamrock, who is now over half a century old himself.
Wait, why am I breaking down this fight? It’s a freak show! It’s the very definition of a freak show fight. It’s Scott Coker choosing to put aside any notion of MMA being an organized sport, and instead putting together the freakiest matchup he can. And I’ll admit that I don’t hate him for it.
So here’s what the model says about Kimbo vs. Shamrock in 2015: Kimbo 76.8%, Shamrock 23.2%. Not far off from the current betting lines.
But what I think is more interesting is to see what the model says about each of these fighters against current UFC heavyweights – like, for example, new heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum:
- Fabricio Werdum 99.0%, Kimbo Slice 1.0%
- Fabricio Werdum 99.7%, Ken Shamrock 0.3%
Oh my. Well, we can’t reasonably expect a couple of old men to do battle with the #1 fighter in the world. Let’s be more realistic and see how they would do against a mid-tier heavyweight like Shawn Jordan:
- Shawn Jordan 89.6%, Kimbo Slice 10.4%
- Shawn Jordan 96.4%, Ken Shamrock 3.6%
Somehow the model gets Kimbo up to 10 percent against Shawn Jordan, who is much better than Kimbo at everything. I would be hard-pressed to bet on Kimbo at +1200 against Jordan, even if my model said to do it.
Is there any UFC heavyweight these guys can beat?
- Josh Copeland 63.9%, Kimbo Slice 36.1%
- Josh Copeland 83.0%, Ken Shamrock 17.0%
No. The answer is no.
Well, that’s enough time wasted talking about this fight. I expect the fight to be shorter than it will take anybody to read this post. If you’re watching Freakator on Friday, then enjoy the fights, and I would stay far away from betting on Kimbo-Shamrock if I was you.