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Stars That Died

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kimbo Slice

Who is Kevin Ferguson? The Mix Martial Arts world knows him as Kimbo Slice, He is a Bahamian-American mixed martial arts fighter. He became famous for street fights which were spread on the Internet, leading Rolling Stone to call him "The King of the Web Brawlers".[1]

Slice left the underground fighting scene and signed a professional contract with EliteXC in 2007. After EliteXC declared bankruptcy in 2008, Slice became a free agent. Slice competed in The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights,[2] where he lost in his first fight to veteran fighter Roy Nelson, went on to win the the Ultimate Fighter In his UFC debut, Slice defeated Houston Alexander in the The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights finale.[3][4]

Ferguson was born in Nassau, Bahamas, but soon moved to the United States and grew up in Cutler Ridge, Florida,[5] raised alongside his two brothers by a single mother[6] named Rosemary Clarke.[7] He went to Bel-Air Elementary School[5] and when Ferguson was 13 years old, he was involved in his first fight, trying to defend a friend. He continued his studies with Cutler Ridge Middle School and later with Richmond Heights Middle School.[8] He attended Miami Palmetto High School, where he was the star middle linebacker.[9] In 1992, his house in Perrine, Florida was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew[7] and he continued living in his 1987 Nissan Pathfinder for a month.[10]

For college, he attended both Bethune-Cookman University and the University of Miami, where he held an athletic scholarship[11] and studied criminal justice.[7] He was there for only a year and a half.[12] In 1997, he had a tryout with the Miami Dolphins and was part of the pre-season squad, but was unable to get a place in the first team.[8][13] Kimbo's cousin is United States judoka Rhadi Ferguson.[14]

Ferguson started working as bouncer for a strip club until high school friend and current manager, Mike Ember, offered him a job as limousine driver and bodyguard for RK Netmedia, better known as RealityKings, a Miami-based pornography production/promotion company responsible for a number of popular adult subscription websites.[9][10] Kimbo still maintains close ties with RealityKings who now accompany him, as his fight entourage, under the name Team Kimbo.

In 2002, he was charged for carrying a concealed weapon[10] and in 2003, he began his career in unsanctioned street fights. They were distributed through the Internet, mainly through the adult website SublimeDirectory and YouTube. In his first taped fight against a man named Big D, Ferguson left a large cut on his opponent's right eye which led Internet fans to call him Slice, becoming the last name to his already popular childhood nickname, Kimbo.[10]

His only on-tape street fight loss was against Sean Gannon, a former Boston police officer who also trains in MMA. The popularity of the fight propelled both men into the MMA spotlight. [15]

To prepare for sanctioned MMA fights, Slice was trained by retired MMA fighter Bas Rutten and boxing instructor Randy Khatami at Rutten's school, EliteMMA, in Thousand Oaks, California. Slice made his MMA debut against former WBO Heavyweight champion and Olympic gold-medalist boxer Ray Mercer at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 5, in Atlantic City on June 23, 2007. The match was scheduled as a three-round exhibition utilizing all professional rules of MMA combat. Slice defeated Mercer with a guillotine choke at 1:12 into the first round.[16] In a post-fight interview, Slice stated that he would like to fight David "Tank" Abbott. Abbott, who was a spectator, stood up from his seat and accepted the call out. One of the matchmakers for CFFC asked Slice for his assurance so that an October 12 bout at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 6 between Slice and "Tank" Abbott could be organized. This event was later canceled due to a promotion dispute. On October 11, 2007, ProElite announced that they had signed Slice to a deal and that he would make his debut on the November 10, 2007 EliteXC.[17] He was originally set to make his professional MMA debut against Mike Bourke, a reformed street fighter, but a shoulder injury from Bourke led him to face Bo Cantrell.[18] Kimbo defeated Cantrell 19 seconds into the first round by submission due to strikes.

On February 16, 2008, Kimbo fought Tank Abbott in the main event at EliteXC: Street Certified. He won by KO 43 seconds into the first round due to strikes. At the fight his weight was announced at an all-time low of 234 lb (106 kg), a far cry from his street fighting days of 280 lb (130 kg).

On May 31, 2008, Kimbo fought in the main event of the first ever mixed martial arts event shown on prime time network television, EliteXC: Primetime. Though one of the judges had each fighter winning one of the first two rounds, Kimbo's opponent James Thompson won both on total points[19][20][21] by repeatedly taking down Slice and grounding and pounding. In the opening seconds of the third round, however, Kimbo threw a haymaker to Thompson's left ear, which ruptured Thompson's cauliflower. This was soon followed by three unanswered punches to a standing Thompson, which led to a referee stoppage and the controversial win for Slice. Fellow EliteXC competitor Brett Rogers was particularly critical of Slice's victory, calling Slice's performance "garbage" in a post fight interview.[22] Frank Mir was also critical of Slice, stating in an interview that "every time Kimbo Slice fights, it sets (mixed martial arts) back"[23].

On October 4, 2008, a Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock fight was supposed to take place at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida as part of CBS' Saturday Night Fights. [24][25] However, Shamrock received a cut to the left eye during a warm-up only hours before the fight was to take place[26]. This left the head of fight operations, Jeremy Lappen, to choose a replacement for the fight. Options were Seth Petruzelli, Aaron Rosa and Frank Shamrock. But Kimbo's team stated they didn't want him fighting Frank no matter how much money was offered to them. So Lappen decided that Petruzelli was the best option for the main event. Slice agreed to take the fight after receiving a raise in pay, and took in $500,000[27]. Petruzelli defeated Slice by TKO 14 seconds into the first round of the bout.[28]

Interviewed on the popular radio show The Monsters In The Morning two days after the fight, Seth Petruzelli said that when they offered him a spot in the main event, EliteXC promoters added monetary incentives to dissuade him from using certain fighting techniques against Slice, in an attempt to protect their relatively unproven Internet star.

The promoters kinda hinted to me and they gave me the money to stand and throw with him, they didn't want me to take him down. Let's just put it that way. It was worth my while to try and stand up punch him.[29]

This added to the controversy surrounding the representation of Slice as a top flight martial artist by CBS and EliteXC.[30] The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation started a preliminary investigation on the events surrounding the fight and its outcome.[31]

However, Petruzelli clarified his position hours later, claiming in a follow-up interview with MMA website that his previous comments on The Monsters had been misinterpreted.

What was meant to be said was that I wanted to keep the fight standing for myself because I knew that was what the crowd, the promoters, and everyone wanted to see because that’s more exciting than just taking someone to the ground. That was my thing only. I wanted to keep it exciting so I decided to keep it standing. It had nothing to do with anybody else. That was all me.[32]

On October 23, 2008, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation concluded its investigation of the bout and found no wrongdoing.[33] By the end of October 2008, EliteXC was forced to file for bankruptcy.[34] Many in the mixed martial arts community, including Jay Thompson, executive consultant to the company, attributed EliteXC and ProElite's failure due to Slice's loss to Seth Petruzelli.[35]

After Elite Xtreme Combat ceased operations, Dana White stated that if Slice wanted to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship he would have to win his way in by competing on The Ultimate Fighter TV show. White went on to say that he would create a show with heavyweights just for Kimbo Slice if he wanted in. That statement became reality and on June 1, when Kevin Iole of stated Slice would participate in The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. The coaches lined up for the show are Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans, both former UFC Light Heavyweight Champions.[36] In his first fight of the show, Kimbo was defeated by Roy Nelson via TKO stoppage in the second round after repeated punches to the head in the crucifix position.[37]

Slice defeated Houston Alexander by unanimous decision on December 5, 2009, at The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale at a catchweight of 215 pounds.[38]

A series called "Junk Yard Training" was released on and which featured LaDainian Tomlinson, running-back for the San Diego Chargers, training in Kimbo's backyard. In 2009, Kimbo starred in an antivirus software advertisement called Caterpillar vs. Kimbo.[39]

Ferguson currently lives with his family in Coral Springs, Florida, and is a single father to six children; three boys and three girls.[8][40] He is engaged to long-time girlfriend, Antionette Ray.[41] Ferguson was featured on The Iron Ring, a television series airing on BET which features MMA prospects. Slice was part of the selection process for the participants.[42] He made his official acting debut when playing Bludge on Nickelodeon's holiday special, Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh.

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