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White says Kimbo Slice won’t get special treatment

UFC president sticks to claim that Slice’s only way into the UFC is via ‘TUF’

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Associated Press

Kimbo Slice, right, throws a punch at James Thompson during their EliteXC heavyweight bout on May 31, 2008, which Slice won by third-round TKO. Now the YouTube legend will try to earn a spot in the UFC via “The Ultimate Fighter.”

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UFC president Dana White talks about "The Ultimate Fighter's" latest addition, Kimbo Slice, during "TUF" media day Tuesday at the UFC training center in Las Vegas.

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Kimbo Slice could prove to be the biggest addition in UFC history, but company president Dana White said the former street brawler would not get any special privileges during his tenure on the popular Spike TV reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.”

“Believe me when I tell you, Kimbo is getting zero (expletive) special treatment,” White said Tuesday at the UFC training center during the “TUF” media day, a day after the news broke that the highest-watched mixed martial artist of all-time would be taking his shot to earn a spot in the most successful MMA organization in the world.

“He’s not getting anything that anyone else is getting. On the flip side, I’m not after Kimbo. I’m not in here (saying) let’s make an example of this guy. Let’s get his (expletive) kicked, lets show the world that this guy isn’t for real.

“He’s a contestant like everyone coming on the show and trying to win. The only thing I say about him is I respect the fact that he did it. The guy was getting offered money from other people, but I think he saw this as an opportunity.”

While White wouldn't divulge any specifics, he said Kimbo's contract set-up on "TUF" is just like the 15 other heavyweight contestants. If he were to win the show and earn his spot into the UFC, then the deal would be sweetened considerably.

"He's got the same 'TUF' deal. He's got a contract if he wins the show. If he makes it into the UFC his contract is different, a lot (expletive) different," White said. "And it's a good one. That's his carrot. If he can do this, he can make some real money."

Critics of White’s inclusion of Slice (whose real name is Kevin Ferguson) into the UFC say the president is back-tracking on his harsh words he had for the former strip-club bouncer and bodyguard for a porn company, who got his break in fighting via bloody backyard brawls that were shown on YouTube. But the UFC’s main man says he hasn’t changed his “tune on him” one bit.

“I never changed my mind. I always said the only way this guy will ever get into the UFC is if he went through “The Ultimate Fighter,” White said of the 10th season of the show that began taping this week in Las Vegas and will air in September.

“He’s always going to be the toughest guy at the barbeque, but world’s class? Now we get to find out. He came here and took the tough road; he didn’t take the easy road. I respect him for doing it.”

How Kimbo truly feels about White may reveal itself more on the TV series, but on Monday the fighter with a 3-1 pro MMA record said his best plan for revenge was to win the “TUF’s” guaranteed contract into the UFC.

"DW can say whatever the (expletive) he wants," said the 35-year-old Ferguson on White’s latest installment of his popular video blog.

"Like I said, as far as I'm concerned, the greatest revenge, to my knowledge, is success. I don't care about (expletive)-talking. I don't care about (expletive)-talkers."

White laughed off Slice's response to him, and said he very well could eat crow once again for his outspoken assessment of Slice, who's last fight was a shocking 14 second loss to little-known Seth Petruzelli in Elite Xtreme Combat's last show shown on CBS in October.

"Maybe he wins the (expletive) thing and I have egg on my face. Won’t be the first time," White said. "I said Rashad Evans was lazy and probably wouldn’t do anything and he ends up becoming the world champion. What the (expletive) do I know?

"I respect him for coming in and doing “The Ultimate Fighter.” And I did talk a lot of (expletive) on him."

Former UFC light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans, one of the coaches for the the 10th season along with rival Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, said he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Slice walking through the door on the first day of taping.

“I was like ‘Wow, now we got a show,'" Evans said, letting out a big smile. "You look at somebody like Kimbo and you’re like man, this is the guy that everybody is talking about. You’re kind of anxious to see what he can really do."

Jackson said Slice's appearance can help not only "TUF's" popularity, but mixed martial arts in general because of his appeal to a less hardcore fighting audience.

"I was listening to the radio the other day and there was a reference to him in a rap song, so that's pretty mainstream," said Jackson, who warned media members it will take a ton of self-control for him not to get in a fight with Evans before the end of the show.

Despite his intense popularity and guaranteed ratings boost, White promised he wouldn't jeopardize the legitimacy of "The Ultimate Fighter" by keeping Kimbo around just for show.

“I don’t tell these guys let’s keep Kimbo around, he might draw some ratings. He might fight Friday, I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen," White said. "That’s between the coaches and the fighters and their camps. The only thing if you want to call it contrived or staged is Day 1, when I’m like ‘Welcome to the UFC Training Center.’

It’s the only time through the entire six weeks they’re here that I actually think about what I’m going to say before I say it and we set up the rules and how everything happens. That’s it. That happened yesterday, from (expletive) today on, whatever happens, happens."

White vowed even if that meant kicking Kimbo off the show if he were to get into an incident in the house like fighters on previous season have done.

“We have good guys in the wings waiting if anything does happen. It would depend on how bad it was, what happened and I’d just have to deal with then. Am I afraid to kick Kimbo off the show before he fights? No I’m not," White said of having to take necessary disciplinary action.

"Do I want to? No. I think at the end of the day everyone would feel cheated if Kimbo comes on the show and everybody is excited to see if this guy can really fight and he gets kicked off the show for fighting in the house. That’s gonna suck for everybody. But I can’t say that’s not going to happen."

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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