POLLOCK'S MMA UPDATE: The story of Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/06/12/pollocks-mma-update-the-story-of-kevin-kimbo-slice-ferguson/

MMA NEWS

**UFC has released an episode of Fight Lore documenting the rise of Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson and it’s a great feature especially hearing from his mother Rosemary Clarke and close friend Mike Imber a.k.a. “Icey Mike”, who served as his manager. It’s only a half-hour and therefore, there are parts that are glossed over such as his Elite XC tenure, which was where he had his largest impact. They limit the Elite XC focus to his debut fight against Bo Cantrell and never touched on Elite XC’s debut on CBS where Slice fought James Thompson and drew 6.5 million viewers. It also was not mentioned that when Ferguson died in June 2016, he was one month away from fighting Thompson in a rematch for Bellator.

The focus was on the relationship between Ferguson and Imber and how the two grew their business and were at the forefront of viral videos. Ferguson would fight local tough guys in backyards and the videos began to circulate heavily. He lost one of these fights to a Boston cob named Sean Gannon and led to UFC using Gannon for a fight in October 2005 where he lost to Branden Lee Hinkel. It was during a time when UFC had grown that year due to TUF but was still seeking attention and this was a promotional stunt that didn’t amount to much and some did criticize at the time.

Ferguson got involved with MMA defeating boxer Ray Mercer on a CFFC card. He caught the eye of promoter Gary Shaw who had just launched Elite XC earlier that year on Showtime and signed Ferguson. His fights became enormous spectacles and his star power was gigantic during MMA’s boom. In February 2008, he fought Tank Abbott and while the fight was the furthest thing from technical or a showcase of high-level skillset, the heat in the building was through the roof and was a big lesson on the difference between great fighters and big stars – it’s the public that determines the stars and while being a great fighter is a tool to becoming a star, it’s not the only tool with star power and charisma holding more weight.

The Elite XC run ended with one of the most infamous nights in the sport’s history when Ferguson was set to fight Ken Shamrock on October 4, 2008. The day of the fight, Shamrock was rolling and suffered a bad cut and went to the hospital for stitches and that forced him off the card. A lot was made about Shamrock’s decision to get stitches knowing that would force him out of the fight. In the end, Seth Petruzelli took Shamrock’s and knocked out Ferguson in the first round. Days later, Petruzelli did a radio interview and made the insinuation that Elite XC has offered a bonus to keep the fight standing to imply they were trying to sway Petruzelli to trade with Ferguson, who they didn’t have confidence in his ground skills. Ultimately, a major deal with CBS fell through and Elite XC went out of business and burned through millions of dollars in their short existence from 2007-08.

One year later, Ferguson entered the UFC on Ultimate Fighter season ten and it was a massive season on Spike TV due to his involvement. This was another lesson about losses and whether they will kill your drawing ability. Most had written Ferguson off after the loss to Petruzelli and it had no impact on TUF and Petruzelli never ascended higher in the sport beyond that night. In a fight that was taped months in advance, Ferguson vs. Roy Nelson drew 6.1 million viewers where Nelson won the tournament fight. Ferguson was not at the UFC level but did manage a decision win over Houston Alexander in a terrible fight on the TUF Finale in December 2009. He stuck around for one more fight losing to Matt Mitrione in May 2010 – in today’s climate, it would be hard to imagine the UFC letting him go after one loss.

His next chapter was in Bellator where Ferguson finally fought Ken Shamrock seven years after their Elite XC fight was thwarted. Again, Ferguson came through setting the promotion’s viewership record and drawing 2.1 million viewers for their fight and 1.58 million overall. That record was broken the next year when Ferguson fought Dada 5000 and they peaked with 2.7 million viewers.

The fight with Dada was one of the worst you’ll ever see in a major MMA promotion and Dada nearly died after the fight as he went into cardiac arrest and had renal failure. It was a realization for the promotion that these types of fights were tempting fate and they nearly had a tragedy on their hands. Later, the fight was ruled a no-contest after Ferguson failed a pre-fight drug test with Nandrolone found in his system and an elevated T/E (testosterone-to-epitestosterone) ratio.

In the documentary, they interviewed Ferguson’s son Kevin Ferguson Jr. a.k.a. “Baby Slice” and surprisingly, brought up that he fights for Bellator and had footage in the doc. The way this feature played, you would have thought he was coming to the UFC and was very foreign of the promotion to put such a spotlight on a fighter with a competitor.

Ferguson’s mother was wonderful to hear from and heartbroken over the loss of her son four years ago and admitted she did not want to relive those final hours.

In June 2016, he died of heart failure at the age of 42

**There was another frightening weigh-in video today this time with Jessica Eye. The headliner of Saturday’s UFC card struggled onto the scale and was ¼ over at 126.25 pounds for her flyweight fight with Cynthia Calvillo. After standing on the scale, she stated, “I don’t think I can stand” and looked terrible as she tried to maintain her balance on the scale. This was horrifying to watch and remains a massive problem in the sport when it comes to weight cutting and the brink of one’s health that some are driven to in order to make weight:

Here’s the video of Eye’s weigh-in. pic.twitter.com/M2k93fcAFB

— Heidi Fang (@HeidiFang) June 12, 2020

**This was the second fight in a row that Eye missed weight after weighing 131 pounds against Viviane Araujo last December in a fight she did win.

**There were other fighters that missed weight with Karl Roberson coming in at 190.5 pounds for his middleweight fight against Marvin Vettori, and Zarrukh Asashev weighed 138.5 pounds for his bantamweight fight against Tyson Nam. Asashev was a late replacement this week when Ryan Benoit was removed from the card.

**Darrick Minner has been removed from the UFC card on Saturday night with the promotion stating it is due to “health issues”. He was scheduled for a featherweight fight against Jordan Griffin, who did make weight earlier today for the fight. Minner issued his own statement describing his issues with his weight cut:

Sad to say but tomorrow I won’t be fighting. Long story short the weight cut was going super smooth, everything on point. Came back to nap before I hit the last 5 Ibs. Woke up after a two-hour nap, started throwing up and didn’t stop for 6-7 hours. Still throwing up this morning but it has slowed down. The UFC performance institute nutrition and staff tried everything to get my stomach under control before they had to make the call to start rehydrating. Shout to them, they are super knowledgeable and professional. I want to apologize to my opponent Jordan Griffin and his camp, stepped up to give us a fight. We will get this set up at a later date. Thank to the UFC for giving me another opportunity, we will get back to work and be ready for the next one. Sorry my body couldn’t make this happen. Thanks to my training partners, corners, coaches and manager for making sure everything was on point on less than 2 weeks notice again. After 35 pro fights and never having to pull out I’m super upset and disappointed.

**Ray Borg has been removed from Saturday night’s UFC card due to what is being described by his management as a “family emergency”, according to ESPN. He did tweet out a photo of his son with the note “Family first, see you soon son.”

The UFC has kept opponent Merab Dvalishvili on the card and he will fight Gustavo Lopez in a fight that will take place at a 140-pound catchweight. Lopez is 11-4 and has fought for Combate since 2018 and won his previous three fights as a bantamweight. Campbell McLaren of Combate stated the promotion was allowing Lopez to take the fight.

**Here is the UFC Fight Night card line up for Saturday at the Apex in Las Vegas along with results from the weigh-ins from Friday:

MAIN CARD (9 pm Eastern on ESPN & ESPN+, TSN 1/3/5 in Canada)
*Jessica Eye (126.25*) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (126)
*Karl Roberson (190.5*) vs. Marvin Vettori (186)
*Merab Dvalishvili (139) vs. Gustavo Lopez (140)
*Andre Fili (145.5) vs. Charles Jourdain (145.5)
*Jordan Espinosa (135.5) vs. Mark De La Rosa (136)

PRELIMINARY CARD (6 pm on ESPN & ESPN+)
*Mariya Agapova (125.5) vs. Hannah Cifers (125)
*Charles Rosa (155) vs. Kevin Aguilar (155.5)
*Julia Avila (135) vs. Gina Mazany (136)
*Zarrukh Asashev (138.5*) vs. Tyson Nam (135.5)
*Christian Aguilera (170.5) vs. Anthony Ivy (171)

**The Sportti outlet was the first to report that featherweights Makwan Amirkhani and Danny Henry will fight at UFC 251 on Yas Island on July 11th. Amirkhani, 31, is 15-4 and is 5-2 in the UFC following a TKO loss to Shane Burgos last November. Henry entered the UFC with wins over Daniel Teymur and Hakeem Dawodu but suffered a submission loss to Dan Ige in March 2019 in his last outing.

**ESPN is reporting that Felice Herrig will return after a two-year layoff when she fights Virna Jandiroba at UFC 252 on August 15th. Herrig tore her ACL in 2019 and last fought in October 2018 and is coming off decision losses to Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Michelle Waterson. The UFC 252 card will be headlined by Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier for the heavyweight title and doesn’t have a location yet.

**Last weekend’s UFC 250 prelims did 160,000 viewers in 18-49 demographic on ESPN. The overall viewership total was 775,000 with a 0.46 rating.

**On Friday, UFC president Dana White revealed the upcoming cards for the June 20th & June 27th events taking place at the Apex in Las Vegas:

Saturday, June 20th:

MAIN CARD
*Curtis Blaydes vs. Alexander Volkov
*Josh Emmett vs. Shane Burgos
*Raquel Pennington vs. Marion Reneau
*Belal Muhammad vs. Lyman Good
*Roosevelt Roberts vs. Jim Miller

PRELIMINARY CARD
*Clay Guida vs. Bobby Green
*Tecia Torres vs. Brianna Van Buren
*Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Oskar Piechota
*Cortney Casey vs. Gillian Robertson
*Frank Camacho vs. Matt Frevola
*Roxanne Modafferi vs. Lauren Murphy
*Joe Solecki vs. Austin Hubbard

Saturday, June 27th:

MAIN CARD
*Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker – Lightweight
*Mike Perry vs. Mickey Gall – Welterweight
*Ian Heinisch vs. Brendan Allen (Heinisch is coming off a win this past Saturday) – Middleweight
*Gian Villante vs. Maurice Greene (Villante will be fighting at heavyweight) – Heavyweight
*Aspen Ladd vs. Sara McMann – Bantamweight

PRELIMINARY CARD (they stated the prelim card isn’t finished yet)
*Jennifer Maia vs. Viviane Araujo – Flyweight
*Luis Pena vs. Khama Worthy – Lightweight
*Tanner Boser vs. Philipe Lins – Heavyweight
*Kyle Nelson vs. Sean Woodson – 150-pound catchweight

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