When YouTube street-fighting sensation Kevin ?Kimbo Slice? Ferguson burst onto the MMA scene in late 2007 he brought with him a ton of hype and attention from mainstream media.
To the casual observer Slice was this unstoppable bad-ass that reigned punches down on his victims like the hammer of God. But to the true MMA fan, Slice was nothing more than a backyard bruiser and not a true mixed martial artist.
Due to his Hulk Hogan-like drawing power and marketability, Slice was immediately pushed to the main event in the now defunct Elite XC organization without first gaining the necessary cage experience.
Elite XC promoter Gary Shaw hand-fed the bare-knuckle brawler lower tier opponents such as Bo Cantrell and out of shape UFC veteran David ?Tank? Abbott just to build up Slice?s record.
Slice only boasted a mere 2-0 professional record when he was matched up with James ?The Colossus? Thompson on the first ever live MMA event broadcasted on CBS.
Die-hard fans were outraged to see a man who not long ago was beating people up outside of McDonalds on YouTube, instantly being pushed into a headliner for the very first MMA program on national television without proving himself worthy of his spot.
Hardcore MMA fans hated him for it and would tell anyone that would listen that the hard-hitting thug was nothing but a joke and wouldn?t last 30 seconds in the cage with a legit heavyweight.
When Slice was vanquished in just under 20 seconds by Seth Petruzelli?a man who naturally competes at light heavyweight?it would seem the hardcore fans were correct in their assumptions.
But did Slice really deserve all the negative remarks from the fans for being put in such a high position early in his MMA career? After all the man was just trying to feed his family during these hard economic times and jumped at the opportunity just as anyone else in his position would have done.
?I'm doing what I do to take care of me and my family you know what I'm saying and to put food on my table,? Slice said in a recent teleconference with the MMA media. ?You know, so there?s [a] recession out there right now. I don't know if you noticed. And the only way to make some good money right now is to fight or to be a professional at something.?
Slice doesn?t fight for himself he fights for his children, and while fighting is certainly something he loves to do you can rest assured he isn?t competing for the attention or the superstardom.
?I mean because that's what it's about. I have three boys. I have three girls, you know what I'm saying? And they're not from the same female and I'm taking care of them,? Slice said. ?They're living with me, you know, under my roof under my care, under my watch and I'm responsible for them. So everything I do, it?s a life lesson for myself and for them.?
One of Slice?s biggest doubters came in the form of UFC President Dana White. ?Kimbo Slice sucks,? White would say. ?He?s always going to be the toughest guy at the barbeque but he?s not a real MMA fighter."
So it came to everyone?s surprise when it was announced that Slice would be earning an opportunity to enter the UFC?the premier MMA organization in the world?by competing on an all-heavyweight season of the hit reality series The Ultimate Fighter.
Slice will be competing in tomorrow night?s episode on Spike TV against the man who is heavily favored to win the competition, the first and last IFL Heavyweight champion Roy ?Big Country? Nelson. The fight is being dubbed as the most anticipated bout in Ultimate Fighter history, and is expected to produce a new ratings record for the series.
Whether or not Slice wins you can rest assured you will be seeing him again in the UFC. He might not win The Ultimate Fighter but he?s way too popular for the UFC to let go. With that being said what can fans expect from the street-brawler in his post-TUF career inside the UFC?s Octagon?
Well firstly if Slice does manage to defeat Nelson and go on to win the competition it will instantly put him into title contention, or very close to it.
Before you get your pitch forks out, let me just explain; one can certainly make the argument that Nelson is extremely close to being considered a top-10 heavyweight so a victory over a fighter of his caliber is going to boost Slice up the ladder at a highly accelerated pace.
And even if he is beaten by Nelson he will still maintain some relevancy as there will certainly be no shame in losing to a grizzled veteran such as ?Big Country."
All Slice would have to do is win his fight at the season finale in December and he would just be a few victories away from earning a title shot at the UFC Heavyweight championship, so long as those victories are against legit contenders.
However, the UFC?s heavyweight division is no walk in the park and with names like Shane Carwin, Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir, and other sharks swimming around in the heavyweight waters, Slice is going to have his hands full.
At the ripe age of 35-years-old Slice does not have time on his side but according to him age is not a factor.
?You know, you?ve got to realize that 30?s the new 20's, 40?s the new 30, you know what I?m saying?? Slice said.* ?I feel I?m at my best right now, you know what I?m saying, and I?m still actually like going up, climbing like up this mountain right now.?
One thing that could be the determining factor on whether or not Slice develops into a legit heavyweight is his recent decision to train at the elite MMA training camp, American Top Team in Orlando, FL. Prior to The Ultimate Fighter show and signing a UFC contract, Slice trained under the tutelage of MMA legend Bas ?El Guapo? Rutten.*
No disrespect to ?El Guapo? but he isn?t exactly known for producing world champions whereas ATT is the training ground for elite fighters such as WEC Featherweight champion Mike Brown and top UFC Welterweight contender Thiago Alves.
There is also the possibility that Slice may go over to New Mexico to train with the opposing coach on TUF 10, Rashad Evans at Greg Jackson?s elite training facility. After the filming of The Ultimate Fighter, Evans sent an invitation for Slice to train with him and that is something the former YouTube superstar is considering.
?Yes that would be a possibility. Greg Jackson?s camp I've heard is the best that's out there right now,? Slice said. ?Anyone who's trying to become a fighter or want[s] to become a fighter or if you are a fighter and you want to [become] a better fighter, you know, I've heard other than American Top Team, that Greg Jackson's camp is the best camp out there.?
So while Slice may have entered this sport at an old age he certainly has all the potential to become among the elite.
The old saying goes that steel sharpens steel and being constantly pushed to his limits in the gym from some of the best fighters in the world, and being coached by some of the greatest coaches in the world is going to make a huge difference in his MMA career.
However Kimbo fans should not get their hopes up as the power-punching sensation is likely not going to claim UFC gold and probably won?t even challenge for the prestigious championship either. Slice is a quick learner and adapts new techniques to his arsenal rather quickly, but there is only so much you can learn.
With his current skill-set he would be easy pickings for most of the higher caliber heavyweights, so the chances of seeing the former Elite XC headliner rise to the top of the heap are very slim. He will however put on several exciting wars inside the Octagon as he always comes to fight and always gives it 100 percent.
Tomorrow night Slice takes on ?Big Country? Nelson on episode three of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights on Spike TV. It?s a fight that is going to answer several questions about the heavy-handed slugger and a fight you definitely do not want to miss.
Set your tiVo?s ladies and gentlemen because Slice tells us that this is one of his best fights to date and produced more fireworks than the fourth of July.
?This fight is very exciting,? said Slice. ?This is probably, I would say, not hands down, but pound-for-pound a good fight, one of my best fights?I was impressed with my performance. I was impressed with everything. I?m not crying about nothing.?