Commentary

Abbott not ready to call it quits just yet

You'd think that after getting stopped, dropped and rolled over in 43 seconds, Tank Abbott would be ready to call it a day on a colorful MMA career. Think again, writes Michael Woods.

Originally Published: February 19, 2008
By Michael Woods | Special to ESPN.com

It has been more than a decade since the ultra-irreverent Tank Abbott put an indelible stamp on the minds of first-generation UFC followers.

The Hells Angels-looking brawler has notched just one win in his past nine outings and got finished off by the fight game's first YouTube-generated superstar, Kimbo Slice, in just 43 seconds Saturday in Miami.

But the urge to fight still flows through his veins, and Abbott, now 42 years old and living in Huntington Beach, Calif., insists he will not hang up the 4-ounce gloves and get a square job.

After his rapid destruction at the hands of Slice -- he was dropped 20 seconds into the fight and finished off via a home run soon after -- Abbott wasn't wallowing in remorse and contemplating his next vocational path.

Tank Abbott and Kimbo Slice
Dave Mandel/Sherdog Tank Abbott, left, never had a chance to get rolling against the heavy-handed Kimbo Slice.
Not surprisingly, at least to the people who have followed the arc of the street fighter's career, he was sipping a cocktail or two in a hot tub, chilling with a pal from his WCW wrestling foray, Norman Smiley.

Smiley manufactures neon lights in Miami, and in his warehouse, there is a sweet setup with a bar, the tub and a large, high-definition television. Abbott kicked back, let the warm water wash over him and contemplated his tangle with Slice.

"I just ran into one [hard shot]," he said. "Kimbo definitely came out differently than I thought he would. He's improved his punches; they are straighter. He didn't come out like he did in his videos. But I was whacking him, and he wasn't moving, like a telephone pole. Usually when I hit someone, they move."

Slice, who was warned for hitting behind the head and almost had a point deducted for shoving the referee aside in his haste to get at Abbott, looked ultra-fit.

The sellout crowd of 6,187 at the BankNorth Center was jazzed, leading commentators and journalists present to remark about the overwhelming decibel level the 34-year-old Slice, who lives in Florida, engineered.

But it was Slice's resilience that raised Abbott's eyebrows.

"I'm pretty strong," he said, "and I was whacking him, and it didn't seem like it bothered him at all. He was still there. I give him his due. Hindsight being 20/20, next time I would have shot on him."

Slice in turn gave Abbott his due after the fight, even though the two had promised to tear flesh and break bones. Abbott and Mike Tyson, Slice said, were the two warriors who made him want to test his mettle mano-a-mano.

Even after his fast flameout, however, Abbott still had some fighting words at the ready. He has no love for Slice's trainer, Bas Rutten, and dismissed him as more poseur than expert practitioner.

Abbott also said he wouldn't mind stepping in with Ken Shamrock, although it looks like Shamrock and Slice are the ones on a collision path.

How would that shake out?

"Shamrock would get his head taken off," Abbott said. "Kimbo will just work at not getting taken down; then, Ken's in trouble."

[+] EnlargeTank Abbott
Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.comAbbott has taken his fair share of beatings over the years.
And what of Abbott's next step? He has been banging out his autobiography, so that could occupy his time for a while.

Would he consider one final fling and throw himself at the mercy of a nutritionist and an adviser on the art of teetotalism?

"I was in really great shape," he said. "Don't judge a book by looking at the cover. Just because I got blubber on me, that's genetics basically, thanks to my mother. Most of the guys fighting now, 90 percent I'd say, are on illegal supplements, like steroids and HGH. I was in cardio shape. I lose strength when I get down in fat. Illegal supplements I've never taken and I never will. People look at a guy with fat on his middle and say, 'That's what a normal guy looks like.'"

Promoters have to love Abbott because he will show up on short notice, hype a fight and help put butts in seats. Writers have to love Abbott because he speaks from the gut and operates without a built-in filtering system.

But there are plenty of people who love Abbott and would like to see him step away from combat.

UFC president Dana White watched the Slice-Abbott fight Saturday after taking in the Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor fight.

He prefers that Abbott call it a day.

"I think the whole thing was a farce," White said of the EliteXC promotion. "I love Tank. I have nothing but respect for him; he's always been good to me. But I don't want to see that again."

White would like Abbott to concentrate on the book and his next logical out-of-the-cage career move.

Currently, Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn are the four entrants in the UFC's Hall of Fame. Mark Coleman will be inducted at UFC 82 on March 1 in Ohio.

White said he has a plan for when Abbott announces he is done gloving up that will honor the colorful brawler, whose record is an underwhelming 9-14 but who undeniably helped grow the sport out of its infancy and into young adulthood.

"Tank Abbott," White said, "absolutely will be in our Hall of Fame."

Michael Woods, the managing editor of TheSweetScience.com, has written for ESPN The Magazine, GQ and The New York Observer.

Michael Woods, a member of the board of the Boxing Writers Association of America, has been covering boxing since 1991. He writes about boxing for ESPN The Magazine and is the news editor for TheSweetScience.com.

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