The MMA world waits with baited breath for the season premier of The Ultimate Fighter 10: The Heavyweights, which airs this Wednesday, September 16th on Spike TV.
The ever popular UFC reality show is set to capitalize on a number of interesting storylines, including the swelling dissension between the two coaches, both former UFC Light Heavyweight Champions, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad “Sugar” Evans. Despite an entire season being devoted to their rivalry, their December 12th faceoff is no longer in the cards as Rampage has dropped out of the contest in order to play the role of B.A. Baracus in the upcoming movie remake of “The A-Team”.
The other notable story line is the inclusion of Internet sensation Kevin Ferguson, better known as Kimbo Slice. Once the darling of Elite XC, Slice has taken a precipitous fall from the promise land after suffering a shocking and embarrassing defeat at the hands of MMA journeyman and TUF flunky Seth Petruzelli at CBS’ Saturday Night Fights on October 4, 2008. Petruzelli, a last minute fill-in for an injured Ken Shamrock, dismantled the heralded street fighter by scoring a TKO 14 seconds into the first round.
Since that defeat, much has changed in the star trajectory of Slice. Among those changes, includes a very public and unfortunate break up between Slice and his original MMA trainer, the legendary Bas “El Guapo” Rutten.
The two have been openly sparing through the press. In June, Rutten told Fighters Only that Slice had “turned into a whole different person… I told him that he was an asshole.” Rutten’s comments were based on his belief that Slice was no longer listening to his instructions.
Slice responded to Fighters Only by calling the friendship between the pair into question, saying, “I guess with him, he pretended to be a friend but he really wasn’t… It was just business with him.”
Slice also took a swipe at El Guapo’s ability as a trainer, stating, “You pay a guy good money to teach you things and be a good teacher… then they turn around and say ‘I tried to teach you stuff but it’s not working…’” Slice’s conclusion, “Come on man, you’re not a good teacher.”
Rutten has since fired back in a retaliatory email to Fighter’s Only in which he makes it clear that he did not earn a great deal of money training Slice and that he was primarily driven by a genuine affinity for the emerging fighter.
“I also told him BEFORE I started training him, that he had to understand that when I had a commentary job, that I had to do that, since this was not a ‘money making machine for me’ (try to live in CA from $5000 in 6 weeks and support a family, haha, I dare you),” Rutten stated. “He and his manager Mike, who’s a great guy, told me they understood that.
“Since I believed in him, and considered him a friend, I said NO to a whole bunch of commentary jobs because I wanted to be there for him for the entire time. Meaning, I actually LOST money training Kimbo. Well, actually, with the last fight (because they re-negotiated), I think I evened it out, but never made money.”
El Guapo further revealed the warnings, which he surely now considers prescient, when he first considered training Slice, “Everybody told me to not train him, ‘He’s a thug, it will backfire, he will f**k you in the end.’”
Rutten also clarified his earlier comments about calling Kimbo an asshole, stating, “I didn’t say that he was an asshole, I said that he TURNED into an asshole, I actually told him this also about 5 weeks before the Petruzelli fight, I told him that I thought he turned into a asshole, he said that he didn’t realize that and apologized, he did that two more times that day and even called me to say he didn’t knew he was doing that. Later I called him an asshole because all of the shit that he took for granted, I also told him that I had no respect for him in our last meeting, but why I said that? I won’t even go there.”
Suffice it to say, this acrimonious divorce leaves little room for reconciliation. At this point, these two larger than life figures will go their separate ways. Rutten clearly has nothing left to prove as he sits squarely at the pinnacle of the sport as an icon and commentator.
Slice is not so fortunate. Although he has been given a second chance at MMA greatness, it remains to be seen if he really has the skill set to be relevant in the competitive UFC. TUF may serve as another coming out party for the infamous pugilist or it may just be another platform to further expose the fallen star.