Issue 035

March 2008

It’s been said there is nothing to fear in life except fear itself. Well fear has a new name, and it lives in Dale County, Florida.

Kimbo Slice (a.k.a. Kevin Ferguson) has taken the world by storm thanks to a handful of brutal backyard brawls posted on popular video sharing website YouTube, but this past year he’s done more than entertain fight fans at their computer.

Kimbo has stepped out of the backyard and into the cage in an effort to become the most dominant heavyweight in all of mixed martial arts.

“I want to cause havoc. I want to stir up this pot. I want the cage to be my home,” said Kimbo back in 2007, shortly before his MMA debut against former boxing legend ‘Merciless’ Ray Mercer. “I want a guy to come and try to get my title. I want to cause all kinds of problems for my weight division.” 

The match between Slice and Mercer, an exhibition bout fought under professional MMA rules, was expected to be a slugfest between two strikers from very different backgrounds, but instead it became exactly what it should have been – an MMA match between two powerful heavyweights. Both fighters threw knees and utilized the clinch, both took down their opponent and Kimbo won his first fight in a cage like never before with a guillotine submission. “It wouldn’t be fair to fight a street fight now, because like I said, I’m no longer a one-dimensional fighter. I’m really on another level,” he said. 

No one needs convincing when it comes to his toughness, but many critics have questioned Kimbo’s actual talent and whether or not he can hang with the best the sport has to offer in the heavyweight division. Some said Mercer was too easy a challenge, over the hill, and had no MMA experience. 

Up next was Bo Cantrell, a veteran with over 20 professional fights in the cage. Kimbo made him look like a rank beginner, backing Cantrell back to the fence with a kick and knocking him down in just 19 seconds with a strong uppercut followed by a killer right hook. Cantrell was tapping in no time after a single follow-up punch from Slice. 

“It’s like this man, you look at a guy like Bo Cantrell who’s had 20 or some odd fights. This guy is a well-rounded fighter. We were the same height, the same weight, same reach, same age – everything was the same to the ‘T’ except for I was one pound heavier,” said Kimbo. “Could he have won it? He had the tools to do it, but if Kimbo is the type of guy that Kimbo is, then Bo Cantrell or whoever else step to me, it won’t matter. I’m a do what I do.”

On February 16th in his hometown of Miami, Kimbo Slice will face his greatest challenge yet in the shape of former Ultimate Fighting Champion Tank Abbott. The two were slated to duke it out for another organization in New Jersey last year, but after Kimbo signed a deal with Pro Elite, the historic bout took a little longer to put together on paper.

Everyone has seen Kimbo grow as a fighter before their very eyes. This is in contrast to the downturn in Tank’s career. Abbott made a return to MMA after a brief stint in pro wrestling, but hasn’t won a fight since 2005 and is 1-8 in the 21st century (compared to his 8-7 record during the 1990s). 

“You can’t knock Tank. People are saying, ‘Oh you know, he’s going to be drinking and partying,’ but we don’t know. We’re training as though he’s in the gym three or four hours a day,” said Randy Khatami, Kimbo’s boxing coach. “We already had a game plan before going into the Tank fight [that was meant to take place last year] and we’re just going to execute the same game plan. We just got to tune [Kimbo] up a little bit and watch out for that right hand.”

Khatami is just one of Kimbo’s new trainers since becoming a mixed martial artist. He’s also spent time working-out with IFL Anacondas coach Shawn Tompkins and is often seen in his most recent internet videos training under MMA legend Bas Rutten. “What makes Kimbo a great fighter is his heart and his will to learn and the fact that he doesn’t want to lose,” said Tompkins. “I can teach anybody how to fight but I can’t teach them how to have heart and the heart that he possesses – how big it is, how strong it is – the fact that he will not accept losing, that just makes my job easier.”

Coming from a striking background, Kimbo acknowledges that his size and strength help but the nature of MMA means a lot has to be learnt and this isn’t as easy as you might think. “It's really hard. It's more skilled fighters and better fighters [than street fighting]. I'm proving myself now, because people feel like the guys that I fought were pretty much nobody's. But you never know what another guy has. You never know what type of skill the next man has. If a guy's willing to fight you, that says a lot. He's sure about himself. You can't take that from anybody. Like every fight, the best man's going to win. Whoever trains the hardest and wants it more is going to win. That's what it's about for me.” 

“I'm dying to get the opportunity to show off a little stuff,” said Kimbo. “I've got a lot of tools in my arsenal now. I'm not afraid to use them. I'm getting to the point where it's second nature. I'm just excited to be where I am, to get to bang up Tank and make a good future and a good name for myself.”

A win over Tank is a two-edged sword. On one hand, it could change people’s perception on whether he belongs in he MMA world as a legitimate heavyweight contender. No one expects to see him take on Randy Couture or the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, but if this proven striker can soak up even half the knowledge being given to him by Rutten and his fellow trainers, he’s going to cause all kinds of havoc for the people in his weight class. Of course, should he lose, he will be described as nothing more than a tough guy who tried to make it in an even tougher sport. 

“I'll take on anybody,” said Kimbo. “Everybody says I'm the new kid on the block or whatever. But it's the era. Being street certified mixed with MMA, Tae Kwon Do, Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing and wrestling. You combine that and you're going to have a type of fighter like myself. I'm not one-dimensional. Whatever anybody wants to do, I'm down to do. You want to take it to the ground, let's take it to the ground. You want to stand up, let's stand up. I'm down for that. That's my thing, that's what I'm about. That's how I live.” 

“I got a long way to go. A lot of big names to fight,” Kimbo said. “Whoever wants to step up, we can do this.”