Kimbo Slice talks Ultimate Fighter 10, his loss to Petruzelli and more
Kimbo Slice is competing on Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter
Most remember Kimbo for getting knocked out by Seth Petruzelli
Kimbo said working on his ground game is "an ongoing process"
NEW YORK -- Odds are you last saw Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson on CBS on Oct. 4, 2008, fighting Seth Petruzelli in EliteXC's final mixed martial arts event.
Of course, you had to look quick because Kimbo's time in the spotlight lasted a mere 14 seconds. A flurry of strikes from Petruzelli, who scored a technical knockout victory, flattened the giant and put a bitter end to his short-lived MMA campaign.
But now, one year later, Kimbo -- that erstwhile homeless man/street fighter/Internet star/all-around terrifying human being -- is back on the airwaves, with his opportunity for redemption coming via the 10th season of Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter.
With his cage comeback scheduled to premiere Wednesday, following UFC Fight Night 19, Kimbo spoke with SI.com about getting beat, the secret of his beard and who he finds intimidating.
SI.com: Dana White said the only way you'd get a shot in the UFC was if you competed on this show. That seems to be something of a challenge.
Kimbo Slice: Going on the show is a way for me to fight in the UFC, and all the other organizations aren't as stable, aren't as strong. It's the NFL of the fight world right now. It's what's happening. So to keep my career going, to keep fighting, this is the way for me to do it. I don't mean to disrespect anyone else, but the UFC is the biggest thing.
SI.com: Everyone recognizes you. It's hard not to. How has your everyday life changed since you became famous?
Kimbo: I have no more secrets, no more privacy. But beyond that, it's cool. Everyone's cool, everyone respects me and who I am and where I came from, being a street fighter. And at the same time, it's how I'm taking care of my family. It's like one person told me: it's an American Dream-type story. I came right off the streets, I was fighting on the streets, and I dedicated, sacrificed, made commitments and got myself here today. And still it's a fight, still it's a struggle.
SI.com: Have you always had the beard? Have you ever thought of shaving it?
Kimbo: I've had it for like seven years now. It's no protection, it doesn't block any punches. The way I am, it signifies that I'm a free man.
SI.com: How often do you think about that night against Seth Petruzelli? Does it still gnaw at you?
Kimbo: Nah. You fight, you win some, you lose some. I've had some rough bare-knuckle fights, and that's just part of it. Some fights you win, some fights you lose.
SI.com: How different are you as a fighter now?
Kimbo: Mentally, I don't let nothing get in the way of anything now. The difference with that fight was that Ken [Shamrock] didn't fight. So, mentally, I knew I wasn't gonna fight no more, so I kinda unwound. The fire blazed down. I had me a drink, and I was just chilling, and I said, 'Let's just go and watch the other fights.' And then when we got there it was like, 'Hey you're going to fight.' But mentally, I wasn't there anymore. When I walked to the cage with Seth, literally, I was going through the motions.
SI.com: What were your thoughts as soon as the fight ended?
Kimbo: It just was ... shock. I went home, and ate and laid down. I put some ice on and laid down. I was just ready to do it again.
SI.com: There was a lot of hype for each of your EliteXC fights. Was it too much too soon, was it too much pressure?
Kimbo: It never affected me, my lifestyle, my life, or anything in any kind of way. Because when you're fighting, you're entertaining. You have to expect criticism. It's part of it. So I expected all that. It's not like anything is a surprise, a slap in the face, enough for me to be like, 'I can't take this anymore.' The way I was then is the way I am now.
SI.com: Your stand-up game is known, but critics question your ground game. How is training going now?
Kimbo: The ground game is an ongoing process. You never get to the point where you go, 'OK, I'm good on the ground, I've mastered the ground.' Guys who've been training on the ground for 20 years are still working on the ground because it's constantly changing. It's like a language. There's always a new move to figure out. You have to have a good defense, and that's what I'm working on.
SI.com: Did you ever think about doing boxing instead of MMA?
Kimbo: I love boxing. I'm a fighter in my heart. I can spar with anybody. But mixed martial arts is a little bit different. You gotta train and get ready to fight someone in mixed martial arts. The first fighter I fought who did MMA was [Sean] Gannon, and he put a guillotine on me twice. And I was dumbfounded, ignorant to what it was, how it affects the body. I fought through it, passed out a couple times during the fight. He really brought mixed martial arts to the street fight when we fought.
SI.com: What do you in your free time?
Kimbo: I have kids: three boys, three girls. I spend a lot of time with them. I'm a family man. We go to the gun range sometimes, motorbike riding, to the beach. We do a lot of fun things.