Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

No Holds Barred: Bob Carson on Bellator 149's Double Disaster 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with Bob Carson, the host of Carson's Corner.

We spoke with him by phone Sunday.

This past Friday, February 19, Bellator MMA not only put on a show featuring some of the worst fights in the history of the world, but also at least one fight which almost ended up in the death on live TV of one of the participants.

In the co-main event at Bellator 149 in Houston, Texas, street fighters Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson and Dhafir "Dada 5000" Harris both gassed out early in their fight. Somehow these two, who both lacked professional technique and conditioning, made it into the third round, where basically Harris collapsed to the mat while Ferguson could barely stand up by himself. There was no knockout blow or submission, but only an ending because Harris was a bit more exhausted than the exhausted Ferguson.

After the fight, Harris was carried out of the cage on a stretcher, and hospitalized. Several news reports said that he had suffered kidney failure and that his heart had stopped beating. He was revived by medical personnel, but almost had died from this horrid fight. Reports also indicated that Harris had a major and fast weight cut to get down to the 265-pound heavyweight limit. Harris is reportedly recovering.

Both Ferguson and Harris are African-American, and it was not lost on everyone that this freakshow spectacle involved two Black fighters fulfilling the stereotypical role of lumpen thugs.

"It's marketed in a way to really depict African-Americans in a certain light," said Bob Carson. "And Kimbo, if you look at, if you had a checklist for a menacing, what would be considered an enemy, what would be considered a menace to society from the standpoint of the white bourgeois community, it would be Kimbo Slice. And the fact that they're showing him fighting these people in street fights, and his demeanor, and him and Dada going back and forth, it really, really had a racial aspect to it."

The other main event was just a shade less shady. While it featured two MMA legends, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, both are almost two decades past their primes. This was billed as their third fight, but their first two took place in 1993 and 1995. Gracie is now 49 years old and had not fought since 2007. Shamrock is now 52 years old, fighting once in 2015 (a knockout loss to Kimbo Slice) and then not since 2010.

This fight was over in the first round, when Shamrock went down from an unintentional knee to the groin by Gracie, which the referee did not see. The fight was stopped and Gracie awarded a TKO victory. It was another disgrace all around, and, along with the previous fight, has led some people to vow never to watch Bellator again.

This double disaster in Houston and the reaction it received are in some ways reminiscent of what happened in another fight in the same city of Houston, and the repercussions boxing faced from it: the November 26, 1982, brutal mismatch between WBC heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, then 40-0, and Randall "Tex" Cobb. As this completely one-sided beatdown continued and the referee did not stop it, Howard Cosell, calling the fight on ABC, said on the live telecast in the 14th round: "I wonder if that referee understands that he is constructing an advertisement for the abolition of the very sport that he's a part of?"

We discussed why this "complete spectacle" was "terrible all the way around," the potential repercussions of this show, why aging fighters like Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock need to fight (follow the money, or lack thereof), what this says about the future of MMA, why young people deciding to fight in MMA would be an "irrational act," and much, much more.

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