Does street brawler Kimbo Slice have what it takes to fight in the UFC? Viewers will soon find out during the next season of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. After suffering a highly publicized and embarrassing loss to Seth Petruzelli during the main event of EliteXC’s final show last October, many considered Slice to be too inexperienced and not skilled enough to hang with the sport’s elite. UFC owner Dana White agreed, often launching verbal attacks on the fighter, fearing Slice’s success in the business but lack of expertise would make a mockery of MMA. But Slice is hoping to silence his critics, including Dana White, by stepping into the octagon and beating out the competition in next season’s Ultimate Fighter.
“You’ve got to be well-rounded to be an ultimate fighter,” Slice told Fanhouse. “I can’t just come with one dimension; I’ll get smashed. So I gotta suit up. I’ve gotta learn some ground s–t. I’ve gotta learn some wrestling s–t. I’ve got to prepare for mixed martial arts and get ready for it.”
Slice will learn these skills from former TUF winner Rashad Evans and UFC star Quentin “Rampage” Jackson, who coach the next crop of UFC hopefuls. Some tough competitors, including longtime MMA veterans such as ex-IFL champion Roy Nelson, ex-UFC fighters Wes Sims, Scott Junk and Mike Wessel, and unbeaten 10-0 Darrill Schoonover will be taking part in the competition. Four ex-NFL players are also on the roster.
“I’m the only guy going in the house with a bull’s-eye on my back,” Slice said on the day top-secret filming began in June to Yahoo! Sports. “That’s cool. I’m always going to be the underdog, no matter who I fight. These guys have been doing it over 10 years, some of them all their lives. And in me, you got a guy coming right off the streets.”
It was his bare knuckle street fights posted on YouTube that brought Slice fame and notoriety. He moved from YouTube to the EliteXC, who marketed the fighter as their main attraction. But it was too much-too soon for the Bahamian-American fighter, who didn’t perform up to the public’s expectations. And now a chance for redemption for the 35-year old fighter, who says he hopes to earn gold with the UFC.
“Every fighter wants to fight in the UFC,” said Slice. “Not everyone gets this opportunity to be on this show like I did. What happens from this point is up to me. I don’t see how I could have passed it up. There might have been a little more money elsewhere in the short run, but I’m looking at the big picture, and this is the right move for me at the right time.”
Tune in to see how Slice performs during TUF: Heavyweights, scheduled to begin airing on Spike TV in September.