Kevin Ferguson, also known as Kimbo Slice, is one of the most marketable athletes in recent history.
The name and the look is part of the lore.
Then throw in the crazy street fights that lifted him off YouTube and into arenas across the country.
Kimbo fought a couple fights for Elite XC, a mixed martial arts brand whose only big name was Slice himself.
And soon after he lost to a last minute replacement in 14 seconds in October, the company went under.
After the fight, 36 percent of SportsBiz readers said that Slice was still marketable, and I knew that this guy wasn’t just going to disappear off the face of the earth.
The UFC is giving him a chance, as he’ll be a big draw in “The Ultimate Fighter” competition, a 13-week battle on Spike (premieres Sept. 16) that could give Kimbo a spot in the world’s premiere mixed martial arts organization.
We sat down with Kimbo –- well it was over the phone because I’m too scared of him -– to talk a little business.
Darren: Where did you get the name, Kimbo Slice?
Kimbo: Kimbo was my childhood name. Slice was from what I did to someone in one of my fights.
Darren: It’s a great name. How important is that to your marketability?
Kimbo: It plays a role for sure.
Darren: When you last fought in October and you lost, did you think your career was over?
Kimbo: No. You have to expect you’re going to lose some fights. I was going to continue doing what I do whether it was boxing or MMA.
Darren: People on the outside, who don’t watch UFC, don’t understand how it’s possible to lose a fight as you did in 14 seconds. Explain it.
Kimbo: All it takes it one punch that you don’t see coming to put you to sleep.
Darren: How big of a break is it to be fighting for a chance to get into the UFC?
Kimbo: The UFC is like the NFL. It’s the top of the MMA world. There’s nothing bigger than that. And it’s the future. You’re going to see many professional athletes in other sports crossing over and trying to do MMA.
Darren: Part of your intrigue is also the fact that when you are interviewed, you really don’t say much.
Kimbo: I’m not known for being a talker.
Darren: Do you know at this point if you won “The Ultimate Fighter?”
Kimbo: No. Everything was taped except the finale.
On CNBC.com Special Report: Ultimate Fighting from Blood Sport to Big Time
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