SpikeTV Hoping For An Ultimate Rating For Kimbo's Fight Tonight

Tim ListAnalyst ISeptember 30, 2009

Kimbo Slice's long-awaited debut in the UFC cage airs Wednesday night on TV and the former street fighter says mixed martial arts fans can expect a "good matchup" with former IFL heavyweight champion Roy (Big Country) Nelson.

"You've got to tune in," he said of Wednesday's episode "The Ultimate Fighter" (Spike TV, 10 p.m. ET, and Rogers Sportsnet, check local listings). "I was impressed with my performance. I was impressed with everything. I'm not crying about nothing."

"This fight is very exciting, probably . . . one of my best fights," he added.

At six foot one and 265 pounds, Nelson may be built more like a paunchy couch potato than a cage fighter but the 33-year-old has skills. Nelson (14-4) went 6-1 in the IFL before losing his last two fights to Jeff Monson and Andrei Arlovski.

The UFC is calling Slice-Nelson the "biggest fight in Ultimate Fighter history," an accolade that pending stratospheric ratings numbers probably rightly belongs to the seminal Season 1 finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. That fight aired live on Spike following the inaugural season.

Fans have been tuning in to see Slice and the other 15 heavyweights on Season 10 of the reality TV show in record numbers. The first episode drew 4.1 million viewers south of the border, erasing the previous TUF record of 2.8 million for the Season 3 finale in 2006.

Last week's episode also beat the previous record, drawing 2.9 million and then an additional 1.1 million when it was repeated an hour later.

(In Canada, Sportsnet drew 52,000 the first week and 28,000 the second week, both on tape delay. Some Canadian viewers may have watched it on Spike, however).

Slice, whose real name is Kevin Ferguson, is a big reason for those numbers.

The 35-year-old heavyweight is a larger than life figure, who made his name slugging it out in brutal backyard battles on YouTube. The now-defunct EliteXC organization then put him front and centre in a cage where he made short work of questionable MMA opposition before being stopped in 14 seconds by Seth Petruzelli, a light-heavyweight who was thrown in as a last-minute replacement in October 2008.

Slice (3-1) was seen as a standup fighter who had no ground game - and after Petruzelli, not much of a chin.

UFC president Dana White slagged Slice for months.

"Kimbo Slice wouldn't win 'The Ultimate Fighter,"' White said in June 2008, prior to UFC 85.

"He's not really a good fighter at all . . . It actually makes me sick when we have such great athletes in this sport, so many guys that are really talented and they don't get showcased by the major media. But as soon as a freak show pops up, everybody jumps on it."

A year later, White confirmed that Slice had taken up his challenge and was joining the cast of "The Ultimate Fighter." The record ratings followed, thanks to curious fans wondering just how good Slice really is.

Slice says he and White now have a business relationship.

"It's not like we sit down and drink tea and east toast," he said dryly on a media conference call. "He's a businessman and I do what I do. He's a promoter and I'm a fighter."

The TUF show has already given Slice a chance to tell his story - "I was me the whole time," he said of the reality TV gig - with Spike making the fighter readily available outside of the show which finished its six-week shoot in early July.

Slice was in New York on Monday for an appearance on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."

In recent weeks, Slice has been training with the highly respected American Top Team camp in Florida near his Miami-area home.

With his python-like arms, muscles on muscles, full beard and scowl, Slice exudes menace. But you can't judge the book by the tough-looking cover. So far, we have learned he's a pretty good cook and lives for his six kids - three boys and three girls, who are aged three through 17.

"They're not from the same female and I'm taking care of them," he said. "They're living with me, 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. . . . Everything about me and the way I am and the way I became who I am started from when I was a kid. So knowing that, it's about me paying attention to my kids and raising my kids the right way so they could either do better than I did or won't make the same mistakes that I did growing up."

Slice clearly turns on his thuggery for the cameras. Off camera, he's interesting and engaging.

But the six-foot-one, 230-pounder means business, confirming Monday that he carries a gun "wherever I go." Florida law permits so-called concealed carry permits.

But can he survive in the elite tier of MMA? Wednesday night will further lift the curtain on his skills.

Slice himself says he's "somewhat of a baby in mixed martial arts - and I'm still learning."

Whatever the outcome, fans can expect to seem more of Slice. While he wouldn't comment directly during Monday's conference call, he seemed to suggest he will be fighting again in December, which would put him in Memphis for UFC 107.

A former bodyguard for a Miami-based adult entertainment company, Slice is now a full-time fighter and part-time actor.

"I'm doing what I do to take care of me and my family - and to put food on my table," he said. "There's a recession out there right now. I don't know if you know this.

The only way to make some good money right now is to fight or to be a professional at something."

He said he made "a couple hundred dollars" for his first fight and decided that's what he wanted to do for a living. Drugs or crime weren't an option - "not with a mother like mine."

"So I had to find another way to make a living. Take my ass to work and do it the honest way. Or opportunities - like fighting. But not the other way, because if I would have got caught, my old girl (mother) would have killed me."

And Slice says he still has the same childhood friends.

"Because I never hung out with assholes or trouble-makers. Growing up I had good judgment of character," he said.

"I was raised with morals," he added. "My mom instilled morals in us growing up. Morals have always been there and that has never changed."


Source and more pics: http://www.captainhoagie.com/images/kimboslice930.html


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