Street-fighting legend Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson has died at age 42, multiple sources have confirmed to Rolling Stone.
Slice was reportedly hospitalized on Tuesday due to an unknown medical complication. The cause of his death remains unclear.
Bellator President Scott Coker, who has promoted Slice’s past two MMA fights, released the following statement:
“We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family,” Coker said. “One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport.
“Outside of the cage he was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man. His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family and all of Kimbo’s friends, fans, and teammates.”
Slice was scheduled to compete in a rematch with James Thompson in the heavyweight headliner of next month’s Bellator 158 event at O2 Arena in London before his untimely death.
Born in the Bahamas and raised in Florida, Slice was first introduced to a mass audience through his popular street fighting videos on YouTube. He became an Internet sensation, and in a 2006 story, Rolling Stone famously labeled him “The King of the Web Brawlers.”
Slice eventually transitioned to professional MMA in 2008. His bouts against Thompson and Seth Pedruzelli for EliteXC were among the most-watched MMA fights to ever air on CBS.
In 2009, Slice signed with the UFC and appeared on Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter reality series. He would fight twice under the UFC banner, going 1-1, before parting ways with the company in 2010.
In January 2015, Bellator announced it had signed Slice to a multi-fight deal to return to MMA after a five-year layoff. He made his promotional debut in June 2015 with a first-round knockout of longtime rival and UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock.
Slice’s final career contest would be marred with controversy. He faced former friend turned enemy Dhafir “Dada 5000” Harris at Bellator 149 in February, winning by third-round TKO but later having the result overturned to a no-contest after testing positive for banned substances.
Slice is survived by six children.