Kevin Ferguson Jr. has attracted lots of intrigue and is being talked about in large proportions heading into Bellator 165. The mixed martial arts community is anxious to see whether he can live up to expectations placed on him. But why does Ferguson Jr. have those expectations, and why is his Bellator MMA debut highly anticipated, despite the fact that he has no fights as a professional?
He’s the son of the late Kimbo Slice, a very popular mixed martial artist whose rise to fame stemmed from backyard brawls that surfaced on YouTube. After he transitioned from street-fights to mixed martial arts, Slice competed on The Ultimate Fighter and eventually made his way to the UFC.
But now it’s time for his son, Ferguson Jr., to shine.
Ferguson Jr. accepts the fact that he is where he is — about to make his professional debut under Bellator MMA — because of his father, who passed away this past summer of heart failure. “Baby Slice” completely understands why he’s known as “the son of Kimbo Slice,” and he’s happy with that label.
“I don’t mind it being like that for the rest of my life,” Ferguson Jr. told BloodyElbow.com’s The MMA Circus. “I do things differently than what he would do, I do certain things that he wouldn’t do, as far as the business goes. But I don’t mind following in his footsteps and being in the shadow. I’m OK with that. It works out for me.
“People will always know me as the son of Kimbo Slice. That’s just how it works. It will always be like that. As far as fighting style and fighting skills go, I’m gonna be a way better fighter than him. But as far as being his son, it always will be that. That will never change.”
Kevin Ferguson Jr. will finally make his professional mixed martial arts debut on Saturday evening at Bellator 165. It was supposed to happen, however, a lot sooner than now.
The welterweight fighter was initially supposed to step inside the Bellator MMA cage for the first time in August, but just days before the bout was scheduled to take place, he was forced out of the contest with an MCL tear.
He was re-booked for October’s Bellator 162, but his opponent, Rick Bing, badly missed weight and the bout was scrapped on weigh-in day.
In hindsight, the 23-year-old is actually glad his debut was delayed twice, because it gave him more time to prepare for the biggest fight of his life. He was training hard for his originally-planned debut date of August, but trained even harder for his fight against Aaron Hamilton on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t say I’m frustrated,” he said. “It just gave me more time to get better and sharpen up my tools. I’m really happy I didn’t fight in August or October. Now, I’m pushing myself. Everything was new for me. I think I still would have gotten the W at the end of the day, but now, I’m going to look more impressive. I’m not going to look tired. I’m pushing myself past some things that I thought were my limits.
“I guess it was like a wake-up call for me. They’re like, ‘OK, look, you have another chance to push yourself even harder.’ I’m a way better fighter now.”