Kevin Ferguson Jr. is set to have his first professional MMA fight on Saturday night on the preliminary card of Bellator 165 in San Jose, California. While not much is known about what he can do in the cage, Ferguson’s name makes his debut, one that’s become highly anticipated by many MMA fans.
Also known as “Baby Slice,” Ferguson is nicknamed after his father, Kimbo Slice, who is one of the most famous MMA fighters in history. Kimbo died of heart failure at just 42 years old in June, and now his son is looking to make his father proud.
“I’m definitely continuing the legacy,” Ferguson told International Business Times. “It’s only right. Who else would continue it?”
Ferguson, 23, wasn’t always so eager to publicly embrace being the son of Kimbo Slice. He wanted to gain recognition because of his prowess as a fighter, not his name.
“This was my passion as a kid, and this is something that I always wanted to do,” said Ferguson, who first trained with his father nearly a decade ago.
“At first, I wanted to do it on my own. I wanted to walk my own path, but at this point, I don’t mind living under his name or in his shadow. I’m OK with that.”
Even if Ferguson had never wanted to be known as the son of a famous fighter, the label would have been just about impossible to escape. Despite Kimbo’s lack of success inside the cage, he’s one of the most well-known fighters of all-time, gaining mainstream notoriety before he ever competed for a professional organization.
Kimbo became one of the first true internet sensations when videos of his street fights earned millions of views on YouTube in 2006. His success as a backyard brawler never quite translated inside the cage—he had just two fights in UFC, and his two Bellator fights were less than inspiring—but the intrigue surrounding him never waned.
Fighting less than four months before his death, Kimbo’s bout against DaDa 500 at Bellator 149 in February drew record ratings on Spike TV with 2.5 million viewers. Less than a year earlier, 2.1 million viewers tuned into his fight with Ken Shamrock at Bellator 139.
Ferguson’s path to the cage was much different than his father’s. Kimbo encouraged him to get an education first, and he did just that, attending the academy of Art University in San Francisco. But even though he heeded his father’s advice, “Baby Slice” had plans to eventually find his way into the cage.
“I always knew I wanted to be a fighter,” Ferguson told IBT. “Even when I was in college, I was still training MMA and boxing.”
Working in photography after school, Ferguson kept training and ultimately moved from South Florida to the Northeast to pursue his dream. While working a regular job and training at Plus One Defense System in Hartford, Connecticut, Ferguson landed his first amateur fight in March. He scored a win by TKO in just 83 seconds and soon after joined Bellator, the No. 2 MMA promotion behind only UFC.
Saturday marks the third attempt for Ferguson to make his professional debut. A sprained MCL forced him to pull out of Bellator 160 in August, and his fight at Bellator 162 on Oct. 21 was canceled when his opponent, Rick Bing, missed weight by 17 pounds.
On Saturday, Ferguson finally gets his shot against Aaron Hamilton in a 165-pound fight at Bellator 165 on Spike TV.
“I’m just expecting to get that W,” Ferguson said. “I’m just gonna go in there and I’m gonna get that W. If I connect with the guy, he’s going to sleep. It’s that simple.”