by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com

Kevin Ferguson, better known as "Kimbo Slice," has emerged as<br /> one of mixed martial arts’ highest profile athletes and most cont

Kevin Ferguson,
better known as "Kimbo Slice," has
emerged as one of mixed martial arts’ highest profile athletes and most
controversial figures.  His quick rise to MMA stardom from street fighter
to main event status has been received with varying results within the MMA


One of the
biggest critics of marketing Kimbo Slice to a mainstream audience by having him
headline an MMA event has been UFC president Dana White.


have CBS, a big network like that, move forward with a guy like Kimbo Slice
headlining it, I mean there’s no secret, that’s what I tried to stay away
from," said the outspoken UFC figurehead.  "Kimbo Slice
isn’t a mixed martial artist.  This guy was fighting in your backyard
three months ago, and now he’s going to be headlining on CBS.  Personally
I think it sucks."


Former UFC
lightweight champion Sean Sherk shares White’s opinion.  "To
be honest with you, I wasn’t crazy about the idea," said the nine-year
professional mixed martial artist.


think if you’re going to headline a main event, a mainstream thing like
that, you should have the credentials to follow it.  You know?  I
would have liked to have seen a more established fighter, somebody who maybe
would represent the sport a little better, because if you’re tuning into
CBS for the first time and you catch this street fighter guy on television, I
think that’s going to give us a bad name.  And I think it sets us
back a couple of steps."


But not
everyone in the industry has the same opinion of Kimbo Slice as White and
Sherk.  UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn is a fan of Ferguson. 


"I’m a
street fighter.  I love street fighters.  You know what I mean? 
Me, I’m a Kimbo Slice fan," stated the Hawaiian fighter.  "I’m
a street fighter.  That’s where I draw my thing from.  I don’t draw
my fights from athletics or from sports… I used to fight, so me, I’m
a Kimbo Slice fan.  I like fighting.  For me, I’m a street
fighter.  I like that kind of stuff."


Former UFC
heavyweight champion and Pride veteran Josh Barnett agrees with Penn. "I’m
a fan.  I like him.  I think he’s good for the sport, and I think
he’s got potential and shows it in every fight.  I think he trains hard
and wants to expand his repertoire of techniques and strategies,
everything.   I think he’s really taking the routes to becoming a
full-on pro fighter," Barnett told MMAWeekly Radio. 


certainly has gameness, if anyone has seen his fights on Youtube. 
He’s the kind of person to go out there, bare-knuckle against some totally
unknown guy and be like, hey, let’s scrap right here, right now.  And that
takes the right kind of mindset to get out there in front of everybody and


"I can
understand where hardcore people would get upset because it could present the
image that a street fighter could just walk right on in and beat top level MMA
guys," explained the Seattle born fighter.  "Although, Tank
(Abbott), I’m sure he wouldn’t even disagree that his best years are
behind him.  Bo Cantrell was never a top fighter, and Ray Mercer was a
boxer, but went out there, scrapped it up with him and got taken
down.  He ended up getting a front-choke of all things.  That
shows that he’s thinking like an MMA guy, not just a street brawler or
straight-up boxer.


think he’s sort of an exception when it comes to street fighters. 
I don’t think he’s the kind of guy you pick off of like Felony Fights, or you
see tussling with some frat boys at a bar," Barnett concluded.  "This
guy is big, powerful.  He’s clearly an athlete, and he’s got the kind of
training and experience that you just don’t find in some street fighter. 
He beats up all the other street fighter guys pretty handily, and the one guy
that beat him had a background in wrestling and MMA training… I don’t think
you can just casually treat it as if it’s just some street fighter."


Former UFC
light heavyweight titleholder Tito Ortiz publicly criticized Ferguson in
the past, but retracted those previous statements to MMAWeekly.com.  "When
he first came in, I said some things about him.  I said he wouldn’t last
with anybody because he hadn’t put in the hard work and hard training.  Now
it seems like he’s focused.


kind of have to take back a few things I’ve said about Kimbo," commented
Ortiz.  "He was a young guy coming in.  I watched some
of his street fights on Youtube.  I saw him as strictly a street
fight guy.  He had no technique or anything.  I’m going to take back
a few of my words.


watched his last fight and he’s starting to be a well-trained athlete. 
He’s actually putting in the hard work it takes to be a fighter.  The way
he dismantled ‘Tank’ Abbott, oh my God, I was like that is very
impressive.  His punches were crisp and looked sharp.  He’s
actually putting in the hard work."


Love him or
hate him, as the CBS-EliteXC Saturday Night Fights nears, everyone is talking
about Kimbo Slice.