The Ultimate Fighter 10 Season 10 Finale, set to air live this Saturday, December 5th, 2009, is headline by rising light heavyweight star Jon “Bones” Jones and the inspirational and always formidable Matt “The Hammer” Hamill.
Although Jones is ascending through the ranks of the UFC at break neck speed, the real show stopper this weekend will be the 215 pound catch weight bout set for the main card between Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson and Houston “The Assassin” Alexander.
These two men are the quintessential brawlers and in the wake of some questionable MMA officiating decisions, it is comforting and safe to assume that this bout will not be going to the judges’ scorecards.
Despite physiques that rival Greek Gods, punching power reminiscent of “Iron” Mike Tyson, fanatical fan followings and ultra exciting fighting styles, both Ferguson and Alexander have something to prove as they battle to establish their UFC worthiness.
Slice, a legend on YouTube, has had less than a stellar career thus far in the traditional mixed martial arts arena. He sports a 3-1 record with wins coming against rather mediocre opponents and a career altering loss against none other than The Ultimate Fighter 2 flunky Seth Petruzelli. Furthermore, Ferguson did not score any points with UFC boss Dana White during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter 10, considering he lost his only match on the show to eventual finalist Roy Nelson and declined an opportunity to return to the competition citing a knee injury and the potential risk of another loss on his record.
Alexander exploded onto the national stage after annihilating the first two opponents the UFC placed before him. He made quick work of Keith Jardine at UFC 71: Liddell vs. Jackson and Alessio Sakara at UFC 75: Champion vs. Champion. The Assassin dismantled both men in approximately one minute within the first round. However, after finding instant UFC success, Alexander then suffered three straight losses to Thiago Silva, James Irvin and Eric Schafer. This rash of defeats temporarily led The Assassin out of the UFC where he picked up a much needed win over Sherman Pendergarst at Adrenaline MMA 4.
Both men know that this bout will be a defining moment in their careers. However, it is no secret that all eyes will be on Kimbo Slice as he deals with the many challenges surrounding his UFC debut.
One of those challenges is dropping down from his usual weight of 230 to the catch weight of 215.
“Considering that I’m cutting weight and that it’s my first fight in the UFC, it means a little bit more to me than all the other fights… I’m a natural heavyweight. The last time I was at this weight, I was in middle school,” Slice told UFC.com.
Another challenge is the quality of his opponent. “I kinda like the guy [Alexander] to be honest with you…I’m a fan of him, so to fight him would be a damn good thing. It’s kinda like how I feel about Mike Tyson. I like him so much to the point to where, win or lose, I wanted to fight him. Regardless of reputation or anything, I’m sure of my game and now I’m being trained by some of the best trainers out there, so I’m confident with what I’m coming with,” Slice shared with UFC.com.
Slice’s comment regarding his new trainers also marks another change in his career as he has parted ways with his prior trainer, MMA legend Bas “El Guapo” Rutten and has now taken company with Ricardo Liborio and American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida.
“They’re teaching me the ABC’s of jiu-jitsu and the ABC’s of becoming a mixed martial artist, and that’s what I think I was lacking in the whole beginning of my career…I was just kinda thrown out there and I said ‘hey, let’s just go for what we know.’ And I really went on heart and guts. I fought guys who all had the ability to just mop the cage with me but who were unable to do so because of the heart and the way I was coming. Now I’m up under ATT, who are really giving me the ABC’s of everything and I think I’m gonna be somewhat of a threat to a lot of the guys that I fight as time goes on,” Slice explained about his new training camp.
Aware of the obstacles ahead, Slice remains calm and confident. “You’ve got to just roll with the punches… I’m a God-fearing man, and regardless of what people see and how they judge me, I pray to my Lord and savior every day… But as far as pressure, you feel the pressure and everything weeks out, but coming close to the fight, you kinda bite down on your teeth and you know you’re getting ready to get in there, so that pressure goes out the window,” stated Slice
Slice hopes that his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter 10 had a positive impact on the fans as he begins to build a career in the UFC. “It’s just like when you were a kid with your parents, depending on what type of parents you had, but definitely your teachers, they kinda teach you to never judge a book by its cover… I guess I was the complete opposite of everyone’s impression of me. They kinda judged me before they even got to know me, but I didn’t go into the house trying to portray someone that I’m not. What you see is what you get, camera on or camera off, I’m a real dude. My kids know that about me, my friends know that about me, and putting me in that house and after putting the cameras on us 24 hours a day, now the fans are able to know that about me. I’m a real guy. The same guy you see in the street, that’s the guy you saw in the house. And that’s one of the things that people are able to relate to. I’m not phony,” explained the former street fighter from Florida.
With the fight fast approaching, Slice is well aware that the UFC has not handed him a cupcake bout. “Just let it play… Let the cameras roll and don’t move from your seats because somebody’s getting knocked out. I’m coming in to knock this dude out or to be knocked out. And that’s the fun part of it. I’m not afraid to be hit. I’m not afraid to get knocked the hell out, wake up a few minutes later, well-rested, shake his hand and say ‘hey man, good fight, I’m still a big fan of yours’ or however it goes. I’m coming to fight, and that’s what you get with me. I’m coming to knock someone out,” proclaimed Slice.
Slice is clearly at peace with his new home in the UFC and his assessment of his first challenge could not be more accurate. Alexander is a man who is coming for blood as he obviously wants to return to UFC glory, while Slice must live up to his reputation as the baddest man on the Internet and also establish himself as a true mixed martial artist worthy of holding court on the world’s most important MMA stage. Regardless of the outcome, this should be a fight to remember.