Kimbo Slice plans on sticking around at Bellator MMA. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
There was a little bit of confusion to kick off Bellator MMA’s press conference on Friday, which was held to promote the recently-announced showdown between Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock.
When Bellator President Scott Coker briefly alluded to Shamrock’s bare-knuckle boxing plans at the outset, Slice, in a moment of misunderstanding, happily gave his endorsement for any on-the-fly rule changes.
“A bare-knuckle fight?” Slice said. “I’m down with that.”
Coker quickly clarified to the onetime YouTube brawling sensation that his June 20 bout in St. Louis would, in fact, be contested under the unified rules of mixed martial arts.
It was classic Slice. The fearsome Floridian always seemed amenable to any kind of fight, a significant part of his widespread appeal. When Slice went from unsanctioned street fights to the mixed martial arts main stage, it was a ratings bonanza: His Elite XC showdown with James Thompson on CBS drew more than 6 million viewers, while his stint on Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter” attracted an average audience of 3.4 million viewers per episode.
His first run as a big-ticket star in MMA was short-lived, however, ending with a second-round technical knockout loss to Matt Mitrione at UFC 113 on May 8, 2010. Even though his lack of versatility was exposed during his first-go-round, Slice remains a household name, the type of attraction still capable of bringing eyes to an ambitious promotion.
Slice’s decision to sign with Bellator accomplished that goal, but questions remain about his commitment to MMA in the long-term. When Coker first took the reins at Bellator, he said talks to bring Slice into the fold were not successful.
“We had another agent call us and say, “Are you interested?” We said, “Well, what does that mean. Does he really want to fight?” At the end of the day, I don’t think he really wants to fight anymore,” Coker told Sherdog.com in August. “So that was pretty much a dead issue at that point.”
Things have clearly changed since then, and Slice says that he plans on sticking around past his Bellator 138 showdown with Shamrock.
“No, this is not a one-and-done for me. I’m here, man,” he said. “I’m here to fight anybody in the heavyweight division. I’m not here to make friends. I’m not here to shake these guys’ hands. I’m here to throw and I’m here to fight. “
Slice was originally slated to face Shamrock at EliteXC “Heat” in 2008, but Shamrock was forced to withdraw on the day of the fight after suffering a cut in warm-ups. Slice remained on the card, falling to last-minute replacement Seth Petruzelli in a mere 14 seconds.
The former porn industry bodyguard admits that getting another chance to take down Shamrock was appealing.
“That was one of the reasons why I decided to come back to MMA,” he said. “Close that door, close that gap.”
Overall, Slice was a man of few words on Friday. Whether it’s boxing, MMA or someone’s backyard, his bottom line remains the same.
“If it makes dollars, it’s gonna make sense,” he said.