We noted earlier that Kimbo Slice (real name Kevin Ferguson) had been hospitalized for an unknown medical condition. Bellator MMA has now confirmed his passing per a report on ESPN.com. A tweet from American Top Team, the gym Slice trained out of, that also confirms the report is shown below:
Slice gained early acclaim for street fighting, becoming one of the first “YouTube Stars” by posting his fights in the video community in the early 2000’s. Slice was a ratings behemoth and became a rags to riches story by being one of the largest draws in the history of MMA. He started out working with EliteXC where he won his first three fights including wins over Tank Abbott and James Thompson, who he was set to face at Bellator 158 in London on July 16. Because Slice was such a draw, EliteXC built their promotion around him.
After Elite XC folded, Slice moved on to UFC and The Ultimate Fighter where he lost quickly, but his season resulted in record ratings for Spike TV. UFC brought him to the main roster where he defeated Houston Alexander in 2009 but then lost to Matt Mitrione before being released. He went into boxing, compiling a 7-0 record before resurfacing with Bellator MMA. He fought Ken Shamrock in his first fight with the promotion and defeated him by a first round knockout.
Slice continued to draw ratings, as his bout with Shamrock set a ratings mark that was only to be outdone by his bout with DaDa 5000 on Bellator 149. The Shamrock fight drew 2.1 million viewers and 1.58 million for the overall card. The DaDa fight drew 2.5 million viewers and 2 million on average for the overall event.
Bellator MMA president Scott Coker released a statement in the ESPN report as follows:
“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, calling Slice “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,” Coker said. “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.”
Slice is survived by six children and his long time girlfriend, Antoinette Ray. Our condolences to them, and all of Slice’s friends and family, in their time of loss.