By Josh Stein on Jun 02, 2009
With the revelation that Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson will compete on the tenth season of the Ultimate Fighter, it’s hard to isolate any sort of motive the most famous beard in MMA might have to step into the world of $5,000 bonuses and alcoholic, fraternity-esque antics.
Those who have seen Kimbo’s interviews know that the tough guy act found in his youtube videos is not generally the persona he presents, and the thirty-five year old father of six is a more likeable character than the street thug than people who talk about him in the gym seem to realize.
Of course, there are benefits to appearing on a reality show, and I can already see MTV attempting to steal Slice for a TUF spinoff. Maybe he could co-host it with Jason Miller. Still, there’s no doubt in my mind why Slice is stepping into the cage on TUF, and while I fully expect a legitimate, technically skilled heavyweight to completely decimate him (probably in similar fashion to the only reasonably young fighter Kimbo has ever fought, TUF 2 veteran Seth Petruzelli), it’s clear that Kimbo is doing this for respect.
It must eat at him, to have everyone talk about how much he sucks. At least when he was fighting Tank Abbott and Bo Cantrell, the only defeat we referenced was the loss to Sean Gannon. Losing on CBS, having a subsequent scandal where the promoters were accused of paying off his opponent and then having all of the MMA elitists pointing out (correctly) that they knew he sucked were a death knell to that debate, and even the loyal Kimbo Slice fans had to acknowledge that going out the way he did was an indisputable defeat.
A win on TUF wouldn’t correct the acknowledgement that Slice is not the undefeatable product of the tough streets of Miami that the guys running his youtube empire might have claimed, but it will give him an opportunity to legitimize himself. Whether he’s capable of creating that legitimacy is doubtful, as is whether he’ll still be seen as a tough guy from the streets when people realize that he doesn’t really see himself as a streetside bully or thug. Kimbo doesn’t care about that.
He knows that he’ll probably never take home a half million dollars for a fight again, but he can put himself in a position to be one of the top paid guys on the UFC’s roster by making himself one of the biggest draws in the biggest MMA organization on the planet. Dana extended the challeng to big Slice to have him appear on TUF, and that seems like an interesting start for searching, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to handle a six-foot-seven country boy who knows how to work a gogoplata, and even if he can’t beat Brad Imes, he may struggle with even the rudimentary boxers and kickboxer that appear on the series.
All of that aside, now that TUF seems to be devolving from an MMA reality show into a reality show with some MMA (and this isn’t new to anyone, it’s been happening for a while), it’s only logical that a fighter like Kimbo should appear to get his shot, and it’ll certainly help raise the ratings of a series driven primarily by the coaches, and only made interesting by the fighters under extreme circumstances, and it should make for an interesting revitalization to a show that seems to have discovered its format, but has had trouble maintaining the talent level and excitement of the early seasons without annoying those who have been following it from the beginning.
Filed Under: MMA
About the Author: Joshua Stein is a writer and editor for MMA Opinion. He has worked as a photographer and journalist and has a number of print journalism credits. He also works as a moderator for MMAForum.com and a grappling columnist (covering judo, collegiate wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling) for profighting-fans.com.