Fighting is a sensationalist’s dream. It’s one of the only athletic spectacles where rules are always bent and the characters stand alone amid seemingly insurmountable odds. Fighters are born to perform on gilded stages and to handle any adversity life presents. Fighter’s come in all shapes, sizes and appearances. The true warriors have no limit and no ceiling, just a will to survive. Such is the case in the life of Kevin Ferguson.
Long before becoming the world’s first viral video fighting star, the Bahamian transplant was just a man living and surviving in South Florida. Football was his first calling, and the star middle linebacker of Miami Palmetto High School matriculated to HBCU Bethune-Cookman University and then to the University of Miami on an athletic scholarship. After an unsuccessful short stint with the Miami Dolphins, Ferguson was lost, now a strip club bouncer looking to rebound.
The UFC pays tribute to former MMA star Kimbo Slice, who passed away on June 6, 2016.
He was a true survivor, a victim of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew that was forced to live out of his car for a while. This test for an athlete called “Ferg” by his friends would be no different and as the old adage goes, “through adversity comes triumph.” Ferguson reconnected with longtime friend Mike “Icey Mike” Imber and hired Ferguson as a bodyguard for popular South Florida based pornography company Reality Kings, where he protected the set and actors. It was a predestined relationship as the seedy world of internet flesh peddling and the fight game are somehow close cousins.
Through Reality Kings’ understanding of internet marketing and Ferguson’s local reputation as a backyard brawler in South Florida’s red hot street fighting scene, a star was born. South Floridian’s view no holds barred street fighting like other cities view stickball. It is a common pastime and was a perfect fit for a man who has only known how to fight through lifes odds. Ferguson began to battle on the scorching concrete in front of cell phone cameras, winning brutal exhibitions of brawling prowess against blue collar, everyday men.
take a look into the life of street fight legend KIMBO SLICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
His football size and rugged bearded appearance, replete with a stocking cap over a mostly bald head, set the tone for a new stage: YouTube phenom. Voyeur keyboard warriors galore could watch the brutality from the safety of their computer terminals. This new iteration of Kevin Ferguson landed blow after blow to men more unseasoned than him but tough and ready to challenge his growing dominance in the now popular culture-legitimized street fighting market.
He became a character, Kimbo Slice, and a mystique for those who never knew Ferg rose from the blood on the concrete. As the views and shares on social media grew into the millions people started to wonder what this guy could do in an organized combat sports scenario. After all, the world was shifting to new marketing tools like social media. Here was the first crowned king of fighting, legitimized and certified from the number of people voraciously devouring his conquests, not a governing body of some sort.
When it was discovered that Kimbo Slice started training in mixed martial arts with world-renowned fighter Bas Rutten, promoters globally-salivated. Still, top matchmakers like former UFC match up wizard Joe Silva were cautious of the potential risk of a circus style presentation. After all, MMA during this time was still a sport fighting for respect. So Slice played the smaller circuit, paying his dues in a major way when he took on boxer turned MMA fighter, Ray Mercer as an amateur. He won via a first round guillotine choke and the professional ranks took notice.
In the way of the unfortunate passing of an MMA legend, we decided to take a look at the Top 10 Kimbo Slice moments from his amazing career. We go all the way back to his YouTube days and to his UFC days. Watch more on MMA Noise!
Slice became the headlining star of heavily backed upstart promotion EliteXC, which later boasted a major television deal with CBS. Looking to cash in on the new social media star making boom and MMAs highly coveted male audience, the network jumped in and 2 of Slices four appearance made history and headlines.
He was the first MMA fighter to headline a bout on network television and the first to win it controversially when he busted the cauliflower ear of James Thompson live in gruesome color. At this point Slice was 3-0 as a professional until he stepped in with UFC veteran Seth Petruzelli who with pink hair and nothing to lose submitted Slice in the first round. It was the stop to the hype train built around the Internet star and with it the Kimbo Slice headlines turned from sideshow to disparaging. EliteXC would host one more event and folded later that month.
UFC President, Dana White challenged the reality star to jump into the UFC through the blood and guts spilled reality show, The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights season, to see if he truly was UFC material. Kimbo took the challenge and surprised everyone with his worth ethic and perseverance on Rampage Jacksons team, winning over his detractors in the process. Even though he lost in the first round of his exhibition fight to future season winner, Roy Country Nelson, Slice had gained something more valuable: true fighters respect.
CBS Miami’s Gary Nelson reports.
In the finale, Slice beat Houston Alexander via unanimous decision, sending him into permanent UFC retirement. Slices last fight in the UFC was next against, Matt Mitrione who defeated him and sent him into yet another direction. Boxing is a such a skilled sport that you would think a man in his late thirties would have a next to impossible time competing in it. Kimbo broke those rules and for almost two years boxed professionally. He went an impressive 7-0 with 6 KOs making him the first MMA fighter to become a professional boxer. Inevitably, defeating former UFC champion Ken Shamrock in his debut.
His last bout saw him face rival Miami street fighter, Dada 5000, in which his TKO win was overturned by testing positive for a banned performance enhancing drug. The fight showed Slice at his worst athletically, winded and out of shape, and it was a sad way to watch him go out.
Kimbo Slice opened the doors to professional fighting for many and his pupils include current UFC star Jorge Gamebred Masvidal and Rene Level Martinez. Each started on the Miami streets fighting for quick cash and respect and ended up on TV with the respect of their peers from higher fighting lineages. Kimbo meant more to the world than just a brutal reminder of the harsh realities of the fight game, he broke down barriers as a culturally unapologetic man of color. Complete with gold teeth, stocking cap, huge gold chain and a bold beard he asked for nothing but a chance to prove that he could tangle with the best in the world.
Kimbo Slice Jr will step into the Bellator MMA cage to make his professional debut at #Bellator162 and he won’t just be fighting for himself. #BabySlice Subscribe for more Bellator MMA content! http://bit.ly/SubscribeBellatorYT Follow Bellator MMA Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BellatorMMA Twitter: https://twitter.com/BellatorMMA Instagram: https://instagram.com/bellatormma/ Snapchat: BellatorNation Join #BellatorNation to gain exclusive access and benefits including fan-fests, ticket presales and much more!
In a sport where black men are rarely controlling the board room, behind the scenes or defining their own narrative, Kimbo set his own tone and challenged traditional stereotypes. With one of his six children, Kevin Baby Slice Ferguson, Jr., now a professional fighter also in Bellator MMA, the journey has come full circle in his absence. Ferguson, Sr., died of heart failure last year and the world was devastated. He was slated to make his professional wrestling debut in Japan setting yet another challenge for his athletic career. A man of no limitations, we will never forget the life and legacy of family man, journey man and trailblazer Kimbo Slice.