by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
Randy Khatami says Kimbo Slice is ready for the 15 heavyweights who want a piece of him.
Khatami, a trainer at Elite MMA with Bas Rutten, was one of Slice’s chief trainers since the bearded fighter announced his entry into MMA.
Early last month, Khatami began working with Slice again after a six-month layoff. Slice told him he would return soon – to what, he didn’t know, but he wanted to be ready.
Rutten had a well-publicized falling out with Slice after his 14-second loss to Seth Petruzelli at EliteXC’s “Heat” in October.
“Bas and I talked it over,” said Khatami. “Bas, he wasn’t happy with the lack of hunger, and the lack of drive and some other things, and it is Bas’ gym, and I’m a part of the gym as well. It’s one of those things where I told him I was going to do it, and here I am doing it now.”
Khatami worked on Slice’s striking while Raul Montolfo, a Carlos Gracie Jr. black belt, prepped his ground game.
“He came in hungry,” said Khatami. “In my eyes, he came in hungry like he was before the Tank Abbott fight. It was a pleasure for me to see.”
Weeks later, Slice’s next chapter was set – as a cast member of “The Ultimate Fighter” season 10. Once a network TV headliner, Slice would be sequestering himself in a house with cameras and 15 up-and-comers who would in all likelihood want to take his head off.
Khatami didn’t have much time to prepare. His goals were focused.
“One hundred percent sparring,” he said. “We sparred every single day. We did not do that in the past. Because he had so much to learn, so many more technical things that Bas was showing him, he really didn’t have time to spar. You’re talking about a guy that didn’t know anything, that basically came from the streets. We were sparring with him every single day.”
Slice’s TUF appearance has already generated a huge amount of interest in the show, but the odds are stacked against him. UFC president Dana White said Slice’s future hangs largely on his first fight. If he’s blown out of the water, chances are slim he’ll make it to the Octagon. If he wins, and keeps winning, a lucrative contract awaits him. But one thing’s for sure: he has far more to lose than gain.
That could weigh heavy on anyone’s mind.
“I feel that 95 percent of the game is mental, and I spent a lot of time with him on the mental side,” said Khatami. “As far as what happened before, he’s just got to take his loss and move forward. He accepts that and he’s going to move forward. I told him the best revenge is success.
“He needs to go out there and show all those people that don’t like him and talk bad about him, even Dana White, go out there and be successful and everybody will forget all those things that happened to him.”
Before Slice left, the two met one last time to discuss the show.
“The biggest thing is that he’s mentally there, and he’s ready to go,” said Khatami. “That’s why I feel pretty confident right now. He’s got the physical attributes, it’s just that he has to be mentally there.”
When Slice finishes his reality stint, he’ll be back at the gym after a week in Florida with his family.
“He does have a lot to lose, but I think he made the right decision,” said Khatami.