Baby Slice is ready to fight.
Kevin Ferguson Jr., the oldest son of late fighting star Kimbo Slice, will make his professional mixed martial arts debut next month for the Bellator promotion, The Associated Press learned Monday night.
Ferguson had his first amateur MMA fight in March, stopping his opponent in 83 seconds. Less than three months after the death of his father, who also fought for Bellator, the 24-year-old Ferguson will fight on the undercard of Bellator 160 in Anaheim, on Aug. 26.
“I was always around the fight business and everything, so I saw it and I understood what was going on,” Ferguson told the AP. “I just knew without a doubt that one day, this was what I wanted to do.”
Ferguson showed a glimpse of his father’s punching power in his amateur debut in March, but he has been training full time in MMA for just two years. He studied photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco before deciding to pursue his first athletic passion in the cage.
“I trained (in MMA) a little bit in college, but not really,” Ferguson said. “I was more focused on having fun and partying a little bit, getting that out of my system early. I trained a little bit, like once a week.”
Although he played football and basketball at his private high school in South Florida, Ferguson preferred the one-on-one rawness of wrestling and MMA.
Despite his collegiate photography training and his father’s imposing shadow, Ferguson decided to pursue a fighting career seriously with the blessing of Slice, who parlayed his fame from viral backyard fighting videos into a lucrative career in MMA and boxing.
The 42-year-old Slice also fought for Bellator earlier this year, but he had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and needed a heart transplant when he collapsed at his home June 6. He died at a hospital several hours later.
“I won’t say I adjusted well or it didn’t bother me, but I was talking to him a few days before, so I understood what was going on,” Ferguson said.
“It was more of a shock to the world, put it like that. It was still a very big tragedy, but I got through it. I’m still getting through it. I won’t say I’m over it, but I’m working on it, I guess.”
Ferguson has two younger brothers and three younger sisters. Slice once said the most important function of his fighting career was to provide his children with college educations.
Ferguson trained in Connecticut before moving to Long Beach two months ago to train in the gym of veteran MMA fighter Antonio McKee. He has been working alongside fellow Bellator fighters A.J. McKee, Bubba Jenkins and Joey Davis, who are all fighting at Honda Center in Anaheim next month.
“Antonio just changed the game for me,” Ferguson said. “He understood what I needed, and he understands the science behind it all.”
Bellator is likely to build up Ferguson against comparable competition. His opponent for next month’s debut should be selected this week. Bellator 160 in Anaheim will be headlined by former UFC champion Benson Henderson and Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. The show airs on Spike.