The Weekly Wrap: Sept. 26 – Oct. 2

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By Jack Encarnacao Oct 4, 2009
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.

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It was just one year ago when Kimbo Slice fell to a late replacement's short jab on CBS on the last card of the ill-fated EliteXC promotion. It was a promotional disaster, and the aura of the menacing, magnetic street fighter -- whose two CBS fights drew the highest television ratings in MMA history -- appeared lost. Surely, interest in his next fight would nosedive.

Wrong.

Slice's second-round TKO loss to Roy Nelson, which went down in June but didn't air until this past Wednesday on Spike TV, was the highest-rated fight in UFC history. The broadcast peaked during the fight at 6.1 million viewers, edging out the 5.9 million viewers for the Quinton Jackson-Dan Henderson fight at UFC 75 in 2007. Amazingly, despite being on cable, the number approaches the 6.51 million peak rating on network television for the Slice-James Thompson fight in May 2008 on CBS.

The entire TUF episode drew the highest rating for any episode in the four-year, ten-season history of “The Ultimate Fighter.” The hours drew 5.3 million average viewers, crushing the 4.1 million record set two weeks ago. Another 1.5 million watched the replay after that. Perhaps most amazing is that the ratings, according to wrestlingosberver.com, means one out of every 12 males aged 18-34 who have Spike TV watched the episode Wednesday. Season 10 will almost surely be the highest rated ever.

Slice vs. Nelson was promoted along the lines of a pay-per-view headliner. Slice made an appearance on “The Jimmy Fallon Show” on NBC, and Spike TV organized a media conference call Monday to pump the fight. Slice made guest appearances at regional MMA events in Florida and Massachusetts over the weekend.

In the bout, Nelson and Slice pumped jabs for the opening minute, with Slice sprinkling in a leg kick. Nelson eventually got the fight to the floor, where Slice offered no effective resistance. Nelson landed 44 short punches from side mount with an arm trapped in the last 20 seconds of round one, and then got 21 similar punches in, this time with his entire corner counting, leading referee Herb Dean to step in.

In an interview with the Spike TV website, Slice said he was nervous about being baited by Nelson if he went in for the kill, and said he needs to drill escaping the position, which almost cost him his fight against James Thompson. He is training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla., and is expected to get a fight on “The Ultimate Fighter 10” Finale show on Dec. 5.

A big question going into the season was whether interest would drop if Slice had been beaten and eliminated from the mix. Producers tried to head off that possibility as early as possible, teasing immediately after Slice's loss that he still could see action if another fighter was injured. The trailer for next week's episode hones in on an apparent injury to Marcus Jones and the possibility Slice would step in to fight in his place.

In another TUF note, the UFC announced this week that Season 11 will feature middleweights and light heavyweights. Tryouts are Oct. 26 in Los Angeles.
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