The new season of “The Ultimate Fighter” started off strong, thanks in large part to the backyard brawler known as Kimbo Slice. Now entering the tenth season, the “Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights” premiere drew 4.1 million viewers for its debut episode—twice the typical ratings of the series. Along with Kimbo Slice, whose real name is Kevin Ferguson, the show also features other notable cast members including four former NFL players, a former IFL heavyweight champion and a handful of UFC vets. The entire season has already been taped but the outcome of the fights is unknown to those outside of the participants and UFC insiders. The finale will air live on December 5th and a six-figure contract will be awarded to the winner.
Kimbo Slice is easily the most recognized member of the cast and has been marketed accordingly by Spike TV and the UFC. Slice gained notoriety with millions of viewers seeing his street fights on the popular website YouTube. He has been an Internet sensation and was a headliner for the now defunct Elite XC mixed martial arts organization. His reputation as a legitimate fighter was damaged after he suffered a 14-second TKO defeat to journeyman fighter and former TUF alum Seth Petruzelli. By participating in The Ultimate Fighter series, Slice will have his chance to test his mettle against other prospects in the world’s elite fighting battleground.
While the series has just gotten underway, early indications are that Slice has represented himself well and UFC president Dana White has already declared that Kimbo Slice will fight in the UFC.
“Are you going to see Kimbo Slice fight again in the UFC?” Dana White rhetorically asked the Los Angeles Times. “Yes.”
White did note that the decision to have Slice fight in the UFC is not based on the ratings of the season premiere.
“The ratings do not influence our decision,” White noted. “The guy can either fight or not.”
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta added, “We’ve been very impressed with Kimbo’s performance.”
In the show’s first episode, Jackson made Slice his top pick to join his team against the rival Evans-coached team. Even rival coach Rashad Evans indicated that Slice handled himself well and performed impressively during the show’s run, and told White that he would like for Slice to continue to work with him at trainer Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico.