Cleat Geeks

Remembering Kevin Ferguson (Kimbo Slice)

Sean-GannonAs an MMA purest, I was annoyed when someone first told me about this street fighting legend on YouTube. After watching all of his posted fights, I noticed something. It wasn’t while watching him KO a bunch of nobodies, but during his only internet loss. Police officer Sean Gannon was the only person to get the best of Kimbo during his notorious reign of internet, bareknuckle brawls. I recognized Gannon because he had earned himself a fight in the UFC because of the hype after his fight with Slice. How could he be given a chance for one good showing, when Kimbo was completely ignored by the masses? When I saw his name resurface with the Strikeforce organization, like many, I paid attention. There were some obvious flaws in the fighting game of Kimbo Slice, but he was able to hold his own.

After he had earned himself some cage victories, the UFC decided they would take a chance on Mr. Ferguson. Kimbo was signed to compete in the 10th installment of The Ultimate Fighter. He was given no credit, or respect from his fellow mixed martial artists. He was thrust into the highest level of martial arts competition, when his greatest accomplishments had come on the streets of Miami, when he heard that someone was looking for a fight. I will not act like I gave him much of a shot against fighters like Roy Nelson, Brendon Schaub, or Matt Mitrione, who were also on the show, but I was immediately impressed at how Kimbo carried himself.

For a former strip club bouncer, Ferguson seemed to be one of the most professional, and respectful competitors that the show featured. It didn’t take long for me to become a fan. This guy had fought for everything that he had ever been given, and that included the respect of the hardcore MMA crowd. The immortalization that this sport seems to create for fighters like Anderson Silva, or Fedor Emelianenko eventually withers away over time. Kimbo had a different kind of persona, but it took this type of exposure for me to realize that he is just a man, like myself.

KimboSliceCloseUpIn some ways, the passing of Kimbo Slice has effected me more harshly than even the passing of Muhammed Ali. Before I upset too many people, I will explain. Ali’s major accomplishments were a little before my generation. As a former boxer, I have come to appreciate, and idolize the sweet science through none other than Cassius Clay. Despite all of the amazing things that Ali accomplished, his battle with Parkinson’s has stripped away what we loved most about the Champ. His passing is a bit easier to swallow at the age of 74. Kevin Ferguson has left us at the very young age of 42. Kimbo did have a positive PED test recently, and the adverse effects that they cause are well known. I am not sure if this had anything to do with his death, but the accumulation of the stress that this sport causes, combined with PED usage cannot be good for a person’s body. Slice’s cause of death is still unknown, but regardless of cause, it was way too soon.

I was in Miami during the height of Kimbo’s popularity, and it was so cool to see the local support that he was given from the city. I remember talking to a couple of guys at a tattoo parlor who could remember when he was nothing more than a whisper on the street for anyone who wanted to test how tough they were. All you had to do was call him out, and he would find you. A career was made from nothing more than the grit that Ferguson possessed. I was actually looking forward to seeing his rematch with James Thompson that was supposed to take place at Bellator 158 in London. The fact that Kimbo was still competing at this level is amazing enough, but he was still getting wins on his record as well. 5-2 will be the number that we associate with Slice’s professional MMA career, but that doesn’t begin to tell of the incredible impact he had on the sport, and its fans. You will be missed Kevin Ferguson.

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