Professional mixed martial arts artist Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson passes away

Professional mixed martial arts artist Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson passes away

Professional mixed martial artist Kimbo Slice died Monday at age 42, Bellator MMA announced.

"We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family," Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement, calling Slice "a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport."

"Outside of the cage he was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man," Coker said. "His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family and all of Kimbo's friends, fans, and teammates."Kimbo Slice is a very scary guy. He is also a thoughtful friend, loving dad and budding entrepreneur. As MMA's date with mainstream destiny nears, it's time to reappraise the ultimate YouTube legend.

There was no word on the cause of Slice's death.

Slice had been hospitalized earlier Monday for undisclosed reasons near his home in South Florida, according to Coral Springs police, who had been dispatched to his residence to prevent a potential gathering outside. They said no foul play was suspected.

Slice, birth name Kevin Ferguson, was a former backyard brawler and Internet sensation. A heavyweight at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, he had a 5-2 professional record with four TKOs.

He was signed to Bellator MMA and scheduled to headline Bellator 158 on July 16 in London against James Thompson.

He last fought at Bellator 149 on Feb. 19 in Houston. He defeated Dhafir Harris, aka Dada5000, in a three-round decision. The result was later changed to a no-contest by the Texas commission, after Slice tested positive for anabolic steroids and an elevated testosterone ratio.

Slice was born in the Bahamas on Feb. 8, 1974, but grew up in South Florida. He played middle linebacker at Miami's Palmetto High and showed the potential to play in college before Hurricane Andrew caused Palmetto High's season to be cut short and his scholarship offers vanished. He flunked out of college at Bethune-Cookman University and was homeless for a brief time. He worked as a limo driver, bouncer and bodyguard before rising to fame through his viral street-fighting videos.

He was not embraced by much of the MMA world as it attempted to go mainstream, with UFC president Dana White famously saying Slice would not last two minutes in the Octagon. However, due in part to his immense popularity, his third professional fight, a fourth-round TKO against James Thompson in May 2008, aired on CBS, making it the first MMA fight on prime-time network television.

In 2009, the UFC booked Slice as a contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series. He ultimately fought for the UFC twice, compiling a 1-1 record, before taking a leave of absence from MMA to compete in professional wrestling.

In 2015, Bellator signed Slice and promoted him in a main event against MMA pioneer Ken Shamrock. Slice won the fight via TKO in the first round, after nearly being submitted by Shamrock in the opening minutes. The two Bellator events he competed in, Bellator 138 and Bellator 149, set new ratings records on Spike TV.

Slice made his professional MMA debut on Nov. 10, 2007, for the now-defunct promotion EliteXC, knocking out Bo Cantrell in just 19 seconds.

He trained out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida.

(Via ESPN)

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