Slice will fight on the UFC 113 PPV undercard.
By John Archibald,
Slice Facing Ultimate Fighter Castmate Matt Mitrione at UFC 113
Las Vegas, Nev. (Wednesday, April 28, 2010) – While fighting for money is nothing new to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight Kimbo Slice, having a professional fight on pay-per-view is unchartered territory for the former backyard brawler. Slice, whose bare knuckle street fights have garnered millions of views on YouTube, now finds himself in just that scenario as he trains for a May 8th pairing with former Ultimate Fighter castmate Matt Mitrone.
"It took a lot of commitment and a great deal of sacrifice to get here," Slice said of his climb to UFC. "In Mixed Martial Arts, you have to continue to advance, you have to constantly work on the ground, you have to constantly work on your standup - it doesn't stop. You have to continue to train, continue to learn."
Now, we all the story of Slice and how his amateur fight videos soared him to unseen heights in viral popularity on the internet. And once he decided to take a crack at the world of MMA, the newly-founded Elite XC scooped him up and put millions of dollars in marketing behind him as its cash cow. The move literally paid dividends from the onset, with mobs of fans flocking to arenas to catch a glimpse of the underground behemoth. Viewers were also flying to their TV sets to catch the Miami brawler in action, all to the absolute dismay of UFC President Dana White, who said Slice could never hack it in the UFC.
At the time, a Slice-driven Elite XC was headed towards sure found success, but it took only 13 seconds for the whole thing to blow up. On October 4, 2008, Slice was headlining an Elite XC card against UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock. Unfortunately for Elite XC and Slice, Shamrock opened a cut while training the day of the fight and could not get cleared by doctors to step in the cage. In his absence, MMA journeyman and presumable cupcake Seth Petruzelli stepped in at the last minute to fight Slice in the main event. To the shock of everyone except possibly White, Petruzelli needed only 13 seconds to force a stoppage by referee Troy Waugh.
The logical end to the Kimbo Slice story comes here. His 15 minutes are seemingly up, and most assumed he would return to bouncing clubs in South Beach while getting into an occasional fight for some side money. Obviously humbled, Slice instead decided to continue focusing on the development his MMA game. After all, Slice admitted he wasn’t ready for superstardom before Elite XC forced him into the spotlight, but no one would turn down the amount of money and exposure that the company promised him.
It was right around this time that Dana White offered Slice the opportunity to prove he belongs in the UFC, but the only way he would allow him to prove his worth was by making his way through The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). In a somewhat shocking move, he accepted.
Slice was defeated in his first fight on TUF by eventual winner Roy Nelson, but the work ethic and likeability he displayed on the show obviously impressed White and the rest of the UFC brass. On the TUF finale, Slice was selected to fight UFC veteran Houston Alexander, and he looked good in winning a three-round decision over the proven Mixed Martial Artist.
Fast forward five months, and Slice is still somewhat of an unproven Mixed Martial Artist - but he has definitely showed that he belongs. As it turns out, there is much more to Slice that just a few YouTube fights and a brief stint in a definct MMA association.
"I take every fight in perspective for what it is. I just love fighting," he remarked. "The whole transformation of Mixed Martial Arts is still a learning process. Being at a place like American Top Team, it's not just a gym for me, it's a learning center. I'm learning a lot."
Many people figured that Slice would be long gone by now. But in the end, it looks like he isn't the only one that still has some learning to do.