This is the conclusion I’ve arrived at: either Tank Abbott and Kimbo Slice both have really excellent representation, or someone over at Elite XC is a little too loose with the purse strings. Why do I say this? Because they paid a reported $301,000 for the forty-three-second brawl at “Street Certified” two weeks ago.
$175,000 of that money went to Kimbo, and it includes his $50,000 win bonus. That means Tank got $126,000 — a grand more in guaranteed money than Kimbo — just to show up and take a beating. Does this sound absolutely absurd to anyone else?
It’s not so much that I think Kimbo was overpaid. I mean, I do think that. He only has two MMA bouts, neither of which proved anything other than the fact that he can beat people he’s supposed to beat, and now he’s making more money than guys who have earned their place in this sport through years of climbing the ranks. At the same time, I can at least understand why Elite XC is overpaying Kimbo. He’s a major draw who could have a real future in this sport. Especially in Miami, the guy puts people in the seats, and that’s worth paying for. But paying Tank that kind of money? In Congress, they’d refer to that decision as “fiscally retarded.” I’m pretty sure that’s the technical term.
But here’s the thing that really bothers me. I keep imagining the negotiations between Elite XC and Tank Abbott, and I can only assume it went one of two ways:
1) Elite XC offers Tank $40,000 to fight Kimbo. Tank, being the shrewd businessman that we all know he is, comes back with a counter offer of one thousand more than whatever Kimbo is making. Elite XC accepts without double-checking the amount that they’ve already agreed to give Kimbo. Tank nearly dies of a heart attack when he finds out how much he’s actually making.
2) Elite XC offers Tank $40,000. He asks for more than three times that amount. The Elite XC representatives stare back at him in stunned silence. Tank produces photos of Elite XC president Gary Shaw engaged in a grotesque sexual act with two underage girls, a gay male stripper dressed as Superman, and a heavily sedated tiger. The Elite XC representatives open their check book and ask how many t’s there are in Abbott.
I know these scenarios sound a little far-fetched, but I’ve thought it through and these are the only two ways I can see it going down. The hell of it is I can’t decide which is more plausible. It’s just that I can’t fathom a world where you offer Tank Abbott forty grand to do anything, no matter which side of the law it’s on, and he turns you down. It’s not as if he has better offers.
Ordinarily, I would never object to fighters being overpaid. They’ve been underpaid for so long, I’m all for them getting whatever they can get. Plus, it’s not as if there’s a retirement plan for fighters (though I would recommend that Kimbo look into a 401k, and fast).
But paying Tank Abbott that kind of money while giving $1,000 or $500 to undercard fighters who would probably whip him just as easily as Kimbo did? That seems morally wrong. I understand that marketability trumps talent in this business, and while that’s sad it’s also a proven fact. What Elite XC should remember is that today’s undercard fighters are tomorrow’s main eventers, and they won’t forget the days when you screwed them over so you could give Tank Abbott many times more than what he was worth. I know I wouldn’t.