September 15, 2008

Thus far, Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson has made his living as a silent menace. In his spotlight-grabbing YouTube fights, he didn't say a whole lot to his opponents before he threw down. Usually, it was a "let's do this," and the fists started flying.

Slice graduated to professional mixed martial arts in 2007 and doubled his fame, largely with the same reputation. In pre-fight hype, he's played a sort of a Darth Vader of the cage -- quiet and ominous, speaking only to intimidate or promise doom for his opponents. He is, of course, a humble guy away from the lights -- the menace just sells a little better.

But against a guy like Ken Shamrock, how could he not have a little fun?

"Just come ready to fight on Oct. 4," he said to his foe during a recent EliteXC teleconference.

"Yeah, I can hear you breathin'," Shamrock spat.

"I'm not trying to [expletive] talk, man," Slice retorted. "I'm breathin' cause I just farted."

Shamrock gave Slice ample ammunition for mockery. The veteran spared no chance to vent his lack of respect for Slice's abilities and background. Slice was a jabroni, Shamrock thought. He proclaimed Slice would fall down out of exhaustion after a few minutes in the cage with him.

"Was Bo Cantrell tired in 19 seconds?" Slice shot back. "Was Tank (Abbott) tired in 43 seconds?"

"Keep counting your record," Shamrock said.

"Keep counting your losses," Slice volleyed.

It was a gold mine of soundbites. Still, Slice wanted his audience to know that he was taking the fight seriously. No matter what Shamrock's record was, he still could represent a threat when the two face each other on Oct. 4 in Sunrise, Florida.

"That's a big responsibility for my black [expletive] to fight a guy like Shamrock," he said. "This guy has the ability to really [expletive] somebody up; you know, he could break a leg, end somebody's career. So I'm not taking this lightly, this is not a joke for me. I enjoy doing what I do, I hope to continue fighting after this fight, and I just want Ken Shamrock to come with the intent of kicking my ass. I want a guy to try and kick my ass. Try to knock me out, try to break my leg -- cause I'm going to damn sure try."

Critics of Slice had a field day with his victory over James Thompson at EliteXC's first CBS-televised card. Completely gassed, Slice scored a knockout by the skin of his teeth, raising serious questions about his suitability as a marquee fighter. While Slice didn't make the apology that Shamrock did for his past performances, he admitted he was still a work in progress.

"I learn a lot every time I come to training camp," he said. "I'm still a rookie at it. I have the heart of a giant and the will power of ten men. With that in mind, and the trainers that I have, I'm gonna beat him up."

Plus, he's got Bas Rutten in his corner, who is an expert on the man and myth of Shamrock. Rutten said he'd like to see Slice gain more experience before taking on any world-beaters, but was confident he could hang with the best. And to be fair, expectations of Slice have been abnormally high from the beginning.

Slice is content to let the media rank him however they choose. Despite his haters, he has a somewhat Zen attitude about it.

"Every fight makes me a complete fighter," he said. "Every dog has its day; anything that goes up, must come down. I'm prepared for a lot of (expletive). But losing is not an option. But whatever happens, I'll learn from it, and I'll come back from it."

To gain Shamrock's respect, Slice says he'll offer him an olive branch in the form of a free shot to the chin. Then, he'll let "The World's Most Dangerous Man" feel the power of the Dark Side.

"I'm going to break his leg," he said.

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