Sports

Kimbo slices up opponent, rallies passionate fans

It took only 47 seconds for Miami native Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson to knock out David “Tank” Abbott Saturday night, marking the introduction of mixed martial arts to the BankUnited Center.

The up-and-coming sport of mixed martial arts attracted 6,187 screaming fans in the single largest event ever for the BankUnited Center and more than $500,000 in sales. Representatives of EliteXC, the host of the MMA event, continued to add seats throughout the night to accommodate those faithful fans waiting outside.

“The fans in mixed martial arts are passionate,” EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw said. “This was the first fight that was going to crossover, not only to mixed martial arts fans, just fans in general of entertainment.”

After a performance by local rapper Pitbull, Kimbo entered the cage and the arena erupted.

“The thing I really noticed tonight was the demographic that Kimbo Slice was able to tap into that you normally don’t see when you go to Vegas for the UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship] events,” said Rhadi Ferguson, a four-time national Judo champion. “It’s absolutely phenomenal to see what Kevin brings to the table. He’s able to tap into what we call the hip-hop generation.”

Slice was excited to fight in front of his home crowd and found even more motivation from Abbott, who called him out on numerous occasions.

“I don’t respect anybody in the cage,” Abbott said. “On Feb. 16, watch the way Kimbo crumbles.”

In those quick 47 seconds it was Abbott who crumbled, falling to the ground three times before a jaw-dropping knockout strike by Slice.

“Everyone who got to see me fight on the Internet, got to see me fight live,” Slice said. “I’m here. I’m home.”

Mixed martial events feature hardcore hand-to-hand combat. One quick punch, a kick or a knee could win the fight at any given moment. Many of those defeated needed to be carried out of the cage, unable to walk on their own. Additionally, several fighters did not attend the post-fight interviews, as they required immediate medical attention.

“People like the realness of mixed martial arts,” Ferguson said. “If we look forward to 20 or 30 years in the future, this sport is going to take over boxing in my opinion.”

The night featured 10 fights and only one needed all three, five-minute rounds to decide a winner while the rest ended in either knockout or submission.

“These are highly skilled athletes in jujitsu and striking,” Shaw said. “In time, people will get to appreciate it even more and the more they appreciate it, the bigger it will get.”

Rory Lincoln my be contacted at r.lincoln@umiami.edu.

February 18, 2008

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