Kimbo Slice, notorious MMA fighter, dead at 42
'He was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man'
Kimbo Slice, a well-known MMA fighter who originally gained notoriety through fighting videos posted on the internet, has died at the age of 42.
Scott Coker, the president of the MMA promotion Bellator, confirmed the news online of the fighter, who was born Kevin Ferguson.
"We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family. One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport," the statement said.
"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 fought as recently as February 2016 for Bellator. He also fought as a boxer and for the UFC during his fighting career.
Saddened and shocked at the passing of our family member Kimbo Slice. Full statement: <a href="https://t.co/TsTCujfoIK">https://t.co/TsTCujfoIK</a> <a href="https://t.co/RwxjwdAP1k">pic.twitter.com/RwxjwdAP1k</a>—@ScottCoker
Police in Florida say Ferguson was taken to hospital Monday, though the reason why wasn't immediately clear.
Coral Springs Police Sgt. Carla Kmiotek said a local hospital told the department that the fighter was a patient.
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She acknowledged officers were dispatched to his home with the expectation that a crowd would gather there.
Kmiotek couldn't provide any details about his condition or why he was hospitalized but noted there's no active police investigation, adding foul play is not suspected.
He was the star of the first MMA show broadcast on network television, beating Thompson by third-round knockout in May 2008 on CBS with the defunct EliteXC promotion. With Slice and pioneering featherweight Gina Carano as the top attractions, EliteXC's two CBS shows drew big television ratings and introduced many viewers to MMA.
Although Slice never reached the sport's competitive heights, his aura never waned among MMA fans: His bout with Harris four months ago drew the largest television ratings in Bellator's history.
The UFC issued a statement praising Slice, who appeared on a highly-rated season of their long-running reality competition show, "The Ultimate Fighter," in 2009. Slice also fought at UFC 113 in Montreal in 2010, losing to Matt Mitrione before taking his five-year break from MMA.
"He carried himself as a true professional during his time in our organization," the UFC's statement read. "While he will never be forgotten for his fighting style and transcendent image, Slice will also be remembered for his warm personality and commitment to his family and friends."
With files from CBC Sports