Street fighting legend turned MMA pro Kimbo Slice dead at 42
Kevin Ferguson, better known as Kimbo Slice, became a YouTube sensation for his street fights in Miami
Street fighting legend turned MMA pro Kevin Ferguson, better known as Kimbo Slice, died late Monday at the age of 42 after being hospitalized for undisclosed reasons earlier in the night, Coral Springs, Florida, police confirmed.
"We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family," Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement to CBS Sports.
"One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport. Outside of the cage, he was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man. His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family and all of Kimbo's friends, fans, and teammates."
The ATT Family and South Florida community lost a legend today. RIP Kimbo. pic.twitter.com/sjs8ctyJMd— American Top Team (@AmericanTopTeam) June 7, 2016
Slice became an internet sensation in the 2000s when his street fight videos -- showing him dominating massive men in backyard fights throughout Miami and the South Florida area -- went viral on YouTube.
He parlayed that popularity into a professional mixed martial arts career, which he began in 2007 and reached its peak when Slice fought on the first MMA show aired on primetime network television (a match he won) on CBS. Slice held a 5-2 career MMA record (with one no contest) and was scheduled to fight at the Bellator London event on July 16 against James Thompson. He also went 7-0 as a professional boxer during a break from MMA but few of the matches were what would be deemed equal contests.
Slice's last fight was at Bellator 149 against Dada 5000, another street fighting legend from Miami, who Slice beat via third-round TKO. That victory itself came under dubious circumstances -- Dada 5000 seemingly passed out before Slice could give the deciding blow and was later diagnosed with renal failure -- and the decision was overturned after Slice tested positive for an anabolic steroid in a post-fight drug test.
For his career, which began with Elite XC in 2007, Slice was always a wildly popular figure. He moved from Elite XC to UFC, first competing on The Ultimate Fighter 10 TV show. He fought twice for UFC, going 1-1 before being released, which led to his signing with Bellator.
Slice's bouts with Ken Shamrock and Dada 5000 were both massive draws for Bellator, setting ratings records for the promotion on both occasions. He was been a ratings draw his entire MMA career, through successes and failures, regardless of the promotion he was fighting for or the opponent he was competing against.
All of this from a man who was once homeless for a month and began his path to a fighting career as a strip club bouncer and bodyguard fighting in backyards. Slice represented the American Dream, picking himself up from living in his car to becoming one of the biggest draws in all of MMA.
For being as feared as he was, so many of the remembrances of Slice from fellow fighters, celebrities and the media that covered him note how kind and caring he was outside of the cage.
He is survived by his girlfriend, Antoinette Ray, and six children.
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