The MMA community is mourning the sudden loss of Kimbo Slice, the backyard brawler who went from Youtube star to one of the biggest television ratings draws in all of combat sports. Slice (real name Kevin Ferguson) died in a Florida hospital at the age of 42, just over a month before he was scheduled to headline a Bellator event in London against James Thompson.
On Monday night, the UFC released an official statement on Kimbo's passing.
"UFC is saddened to learn of the passing of Kevin Ferguson, known to fans around the world as Kimbo Slice.
Slice will forever be a part of UFC history as a contestant on season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2009, and for having fought twice inside the Octagon at The Ultimate Fighter Finale and UFC 113. He carried himself as a true professional during his time in our organization.
While he will never be forgotten for his fighting style and transcendent image, Slice will also be remembered for his warm personality and commitment to his family and friends.
UFC offers its sincere condolences to Slice's family, friends and teammates at American Top Team."
Slice competed on season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, losing to Roy Nelson in his only fight on the show. That episode attracted a staggering 5.3 million viewers on Spike TV, and Kimbo was still offered a spot on the season finale. Kimbo defeated Houston Alexander by unanimous decision in December 2009, with his fight peaking at 5.2 million viewers. Following a loss to Matt Mitrione at UFC 113, Kimbo was released from his contract and embarked on a brief 7-0 boxing career before signing with Bellator MMA.
UFC president Dana White also tweeted this out when news of Kimbo's death became official.
RIP Kimbo pic.twitter.com/Q4kZ4xhff8— Dana White (@danawhite) June 7, 2016
Slice died of heart failure after he was admitted to the hospital on June 3rd, having previously complained of nausea, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain.