By the time Kimbo Slice and Dhafir "Dada 5000" Harris made it to the third round of their co-headlining heavyweight bout at Bellator 149, both men were wheezing toward the finish line of a fight that had become memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Most in the MMA community didn’t expect the South Florida grudge match to last nearly that long. After all, six Slice’s first seven professional outings finished inside of two frames, while both of Dada 5000’s bouts were done in the first round. Combine that history with the brawling style favored by both fighters and their advanced age (Slice is 42, Harris is 38), and it appeared Friday’s co-headliner was headed for five minutes or bust.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be the latter, as neither Slice nor Harris was able to put his stamp on the bout early, leading to increasingly lengthy lulls in action as the fight progressed and the two rivals wearily slugged it out on empty gas tanks. In the end, it was Slice who had just enough left to finish the job, as he put Harris away at the 1:32 mark of round three with one final salvo of half-hearted punches. The “Dawg Fight” protagonist stumbled away and landed face first on the canvas, his TKO defeat a product of exhaustion as much as it was Slice’s work.
“Did I ever think it would go that long? No,” Bellator President Scott Coker said at Friday’s post-fight press conference. “It was a fun fight, that’s really what it was. I never thought it would go to the rounds that it did. We saw some tired fighters in there.”
Harris checked in at 265 pounds at Thursday’s weigh-ins, some 33 pounds heavier than his fellow Miami native. For Slice, that size difference played a role, especially after he landed takedowns and mounted Harris in both the first and second round.
“It was his weight,” Slice said. “It was really the weight; I underestimated his weight. It’s all good. Win three rounds, I did good. But I just underestimated his weight.
“It lets me know that I have to continue to train with bigger guys to get used to that weight,” Slice added. “He was a pretty strong dude; he took punches better than I thought. Hard work in training camp pays off.”
Harris, meanwhile, had a brief scare as he remained down in the cage for some time after the contest was halted. Eventually he was carted away on a stretcher and taken backstage, where he was conscious and receiving oxygen before being transported to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure.
“Health and safety is always first. Just like we had a situation two weeks ago when [Ryan Couture was knocked out at Bellator 148] and a stretcher came out…it’s always concerning,” Coker said. “The health and safety of these athletes is always the No. 1 goal.”
For Slice, the No. 1 goal was putting to rest a feud with someone he once called a friend. It wasn’t pretty, but for all his struggles, Slice never had any designs on waving the proverbial white flag.
“Losing is not an option for me. You’ve got to really just beat the hell out of me; I’m not gonna just give up,” he said. “I don’t care if you got a submission, you gonna take the break. If you got the neck you’re gonna have to choke me out, put me to sleep. If you got better hands, you’re gonna have to knock me out silly for the ref to stop it.
“I’m that type of fighter. I’m not gonna never, ever just give up in a fight. As long as I can breathe and get back to my feet we’re gonna go.”