The Ultimate Fighter lifts curtain on Kimbo Slice this week

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Kimbo Slice's long-awaited debut in the UFC cage airs Wednesday night on TV and the former street fighter says mixed martial arts fans can expect a "good matchup" with former IFL heavyweight champion Roy (Big Country) Nelson.
"You've got to tune in," he said of Wednesday's episode "The Ultimate Fighter" (Spike TV, 10 p.m. ET, and Rogers Sportsnet, check local listings). "I was impressed with my performance. I was impressed with everything. I'm not crying about nothing."
"This fight is very exciting, probably . . . one of my best fights," he added.
At six foot one and 265 pounds, Nelson may be built more like a paunchy couch potato than a cage fighter but the 33-year-old has skills. Nelson (14-4) went 6-1 in the IFL before losing his last two fights to Jeff Monson and Andrei Arlovski.
The UFC is calling Slice-Nelson the "biggest fight in Ultimate Fighter history," an accolade that pending stratospheric ratings numbers probably rightly belongs to the seminal Season 1 finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. That fight aired live on Spike following the inaugural season.
Fans have been tuning in to see Slice and the other 15 heavyweights on Season 10 of the reality TV show in record numbers. The first episode drew 4.1 million viewers south of the border, erasing the previous TUF record of 2.8 million for the Season 3 finale in 2006.
Last week's episode also beat the previous record, drawing 2.9 million and then an additional 1.1 million when it was repeated an hour later.
(In Canada, Sportsnet drew 52,000 the first week and 28,000 the second week, both on tape delay. Some Canadian viewers may have watched it on Spike, however).
Slice, whose real name is Kevin Ferguson, is a big reason for those numbers.
The 35-year-old heavyweight is a larger than life figure, who made his name slugging it out in brutal backyard battles on YouTube. The now-defunct EliteXC organization then put him front and centre in a cage where he made short work of questionable MMA opposition before being stopped in 14 seconds by Seth Petruzelli, a light-heavyweight who was thrown in as a last-minute replacement in October 2008.
Slice (3-1) was seen as a standup fighter who had no ground game - and after Petruzelli, not much of a chin.
UFC president Dana White slagged Slice for months.
"Kimbo Slice wouldn't win `The Ultimate Fighter,"' White said in June 2008, prior to UFC 85.
"He's not really a good fighter at all . . . It actually makes me sick when we have such great athletes in this sport, so many guys that are really talented and they don't get showcased by the major media. But as soon as a freak show pops up, everybody jumps on it."
A year later, White confirmed that Slice had taken up his challenge and was joining the cast of "The Ultimate Fighter." The record ratings followed, thanks to curious fans wondering just how good Slice really is.
Slice says he and White now have a business relationship.
"It's not like we sit down and drink tea and east toast," he said dryly on a media conference call. "He's a businessman and I do what I do. He's a promoter and I'm a fighter."
The TUF show has already given Slice a chance to tell his story - "I was me the whole time," he said of the reality TV gig - with Spike making the fighter readily available outside of the show which finished its six-week shoot in early July.
Slice was in New York on Monday for an appearance on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."

Organizations: Season 3, EliteXC organization

Geographic location: Canada, New York

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