Bellator MMA heavyweight and street fighting legend Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson (pictured) has died at the age of 42.
The unexpected cause of Ferguson’s death is uncertain, but according to TMZ Sports he was admitted to a Florida hospital Monday in “dire condition.”
Bellator president Scott Coker just confirmed Ferguson’s passing.
“We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family,” Coker expressed in a statement. “One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was 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. 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.”
Ferguson became a YouTube sensation in the mid-2000s when his brutal street fights went viral. He entered MMA shortly after, making his debut in the cage for EliteXC in November 2007 by knocking out Bo Cantrell.
EliteXC brought Ferguson along slowly, but put all their eggs in Kimbo’s basket given his mainstream popularity. He started off 3-0, but Seth Petruzelli shocked the MMA world with a TKO victory in October 2008.
In what most believed was a game changing move at the time, UFC president Dana White signed Ferguson to be a contestant on “The Ultimate Fighter 10.” He was quickly eliminated in the tournament’s first round by Roy Nelson, who went on to take the tourney.
Ferguson made his UFC debut by beating Houston Alexander, but left the promotion after getting dominated by Matt Mitrione in his next outing in May 2010.
Ferguson then tried his hand at boxing where where kicks, takedowns and Brazilian jiu jitsu were eliminated from the equation. He went a perfect 7-0 in boxing.
Bellator signed Ferguson in January 2015. Both of his fights for the promotion were smash hits. Ferguson had set Spike TV’s live event record in his debut victory over Ken Shamrock last June with 1.6 million (peaking at 2.4 million) viewers.
Ferguson followed that up by co-headling Bellator 149 against Dhafir “Dada 5000” Harris. The event peaked at 2.7 million viewers to watch his win over Harris. However, the bout was overturned to a no contest after Ferguson tested positive for steroids and elevated levels of testosterone after the fight.
Ferguson was slated to fight James Thompson at Belltor 158 on July 16 at O2 Arena in London.