This May 31, 2008, file photo shows Kimbo Slice, right, battling James Thompson of Manchester, England during their EliteXC heavyweight bout at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.  
Photo: Rich Schultz
Photo: Rich Schultz

Kimbo Slice, MMA fighter and early internet star, dead at age 42

Multiple media sources are reporting MMA fighter Kimbo Slice died Monday at the age of 42.

The reports were confirmed by Bellator MMA President Scott Coker in a statement. "We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family," Coker said. "His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts."

Real name Kevin Ferguson, Slice was taken to the hospital earlier in the day Monday, but his condition at the time was unknown, as is the cause of death.

Slice was scheduled to fight for Bellator in July in London.  Slice last fought in February, defeating Dhafir "Dada 5000" Harris in a decision that was later overturned after Slice failed a pre-fight drug test. Harris collapsed in the ring during the fight. He suffered a cardiac arrest and kidney failure afterward and nearly died. 

Slice was a standout football player at Miami's Palmetto High in the early 1990s until Hurricane Andrew wiped out the school and the team's season. He attended Bethune-Cookman University briefly and later starred in internet street fighting videos that made him one of the first true viral web celebrities and the hottest attraction on the early YouTube.com site. 

Slice's online popularity didn't lead to fans in the UFC. He was shunned by UFC President Dana White, but Slice's name was strong enough to get him a spot on the first-ever MMA card broadcast on CBS in 2009 for the now defunct Elite FC. Slice garnered huge ratings on CBS and later for Bellator. He eventually made it to UFC as a contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show and won a match by decision in the season finale. He fought and lost in his only major UFC pay-per-view appearance in 2010. 

Slice was the last throwback brawler in MMA, like Tank Abbott back in the early days of UFC when the promotion had few rules and featured fights between opponents of various martial arts and styles. Slice went through various odd jobs after college and was even homeless before garnering millions of hits online for his street fights. 

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