Bad news everybody - no Kimbo on campus in Nashville. :(
UFC just sent a release confirming Kimbo Slice vs. Matt Mitrione for 5/8 in Montreal. The match had been on the schedule for that night for some time. There had been serious talk of making a change in plans and having Slice, the most proven television drawing card in the sport, headline on 4/17 head-to-head with the Strikeforce show on CBS.
Still no updates as far as location, headliner, or whether or not the card will actually exist.
It looks like there will definitely be a UFC card April 17, and it may be in Nashville - but according to Dave Meltzer, Memorial Gym is one of two possibilities. Additionally, the Toney/Kimbo fight might not take place, but Kimbo vs. former NFL player Matt Mitrione or Wanderlei Silva vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama could be the headliner instead.
No site has been confirmed for the UFC show, although it is known at least two locations are under consideration in the state of Tennessee, including Nashville’s Vanderbilt University.
Sherdog - a very solid and accurate source in the world of MMA - is reporting the venue as Memorial Gym, but that no application for a permit to hold an event has been filed. In other words, no one really knows for certain what's going on.
The venue for the proposed UFC event has not been settled upon, though speculation centers on Vanderbilt University’s Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville. Tennessee Athletic Commission Executive Director Jeff Mullen told Sherdog.com the UFC had not yet applied for a permit.
"I have not received an event permit for a UFC event," Mullen said. "I’d have to research this to make sure we can adequately regulate two events of this size [on the same night]."
Direct from the Underground:
[From Carmichael Dave]
James Toney will make his MMA debut April 17th against Kimbo Slice at Vanderbilt Arena in Tennessee. Mike Swick will fight Matt Serra in the main event.
The fight would air on Spike TV, according to the rumor.
With the Strikeforce card happening the same night, in the same state, this constitutes the first real nuclear bomb that Dana White and Zuffa would drop on their organization, should it be true.
I had Yahoo's Kevin Iole on my radio show just a few minutes ago, and asked him about the rumor. His response: "I think you hit a home run with that one, that's what I've been hearing."
Well, something here seems a bit, well, odd. The Underground is a well known MMA community, where fighters and key members of the media share information, and Carmichael Dave is a reputable source who makes sure to state that this is just a rumor, but still, this one is tough to understand. Several things fail to make sense:
1. Vanderbilt Arena? What the hell is that? Since the Bridgestone Arena/Sommet Center/Gaylord Entertainment Center/Nashville Arena is already booked up for *another* big MMA event (Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Shields), and the Municipal Auditorium will be hosting the legendary Roy Clark, the UFC would have to find another venue in Nashville to hold their event. Memorial Gym looks like it would be the final option for any kind of big indoor event in the city. The gym's layout would make it pretty awkward for a MMA event though - the raised court plus a raised cage would make the first 10 rows or so unusable since they'd put viewers at a strange angle looking up at fighters and without a full view of the event. Essentially, the layout at Memorial would eliminate most of the highest-priced seats for any MMA event.
2. A competing MMA event to air on the same night that Strikeforce will be shown on CBS wouldn't be too unusual for the UFC to put on (UFC President Dana White is a notorious hardass when it comes to competing organizations), but putting it in the same city would go beyond the realm of "competitive" and into the world of "bizarre." Aside from the complications of the state's Athletic Commission to oversee two major events in the same night, they'd also be dividing their fan base and likely diminish their ticket sales. They could hold the event somewhere else and have the same negative effect on Strikeforce's ratings while bringing in better revenue numbers. It just doesn't make sense.
More under the jump...
3. Mike Swick says he's not fighting Matt Serra. So that's out.
4. James Toney just signed with the UFC, and hasn't looked particularly in shape in his recent media appearances (or fights, actually). Throwing him into a fight with just six weeks to prepare seems like it would be disastrous - but Dana White may be looking to embarrass Toney to make a point about MMA's superiority to boxing. A Kimbo Slice/James Toney fight would be a huge earner - although not particularly relevant to title hopes for either fighter. The pairing makes sense - but the date does not.
5. Seriously, what the hell is Vanderbilt Arena?
It seems legit that the UFC will be putting on an event to counter Strikeforce: Nashville. The California-based company represents their biggest competitor, and if they can skim viewers from their CBS broadcast, they could jeopardize the network deal that is essentially keeping Strikeforce afloat. However, it doesn't make any sense to hold an event in the same city in a state that only legalized regulated mixed martial arts in 2008.
This rumor seems to be just that - a rumor. If Tennesseans want to watch fights on April 17th, they'll still have two options, but one will only be available on television. Personally, I've already picked up my tickets to watch Dan Henderson erase Jake Shields's ability to do simple math problems. If the UFC does come to town, it looks like their only realistic option would be to open for Roy Clark - or to let him fight James Toney.