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Kevin Ferguson Jr. vows to ‘continue the legacy’ of his late father Kimbo Slice

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Kevin Ferguson Jr. was serious about fighting. He's always wanted to be a fighter, going back to when he was a kid watching his father, Kimbo Slice, brawl in backyard bouts that made their way onto YouTube.

After Slice's death, though, things changed for Ferguson Jr. Fighting became more than just an interest and potential career. It became a calling. A vocation.

"I take it more serious now," Ferguson Jr. told Ariel Helwani on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour. "It means a lot more to me now. At this point, it's not even about the money or about the fame. It's just about continuing the legacy. That's my goal now, is to just continue the legacy and take the Slice name to the next level. To show the new Slice."

Ferguson Jr. was set to make his pro debut in Bellator, his dad's old stomping grounds, last week in Memphis, but his opponent came in 16 pounds overweight and the bout was called off. The new plan is for "Baby Slice," the nickname he gave himself in honor of his father, to fight at Bellator 165 on Nov. 19 in San Jose.

No opponent has been named yet, but Ferguson Jr. doesn't really give a damn about the guy standing across from him. He also doesn't mind having a few more weeks to ready himself.

"I'm gonna be more prepared, I'm gonna have more cardio, more technique, more power," he said. "My skills are just gonna get better. I just feel bad for my opponent, whoever the guy is. He's gonna get hurt in there."

Ferguson Jr., 24, began his MMA career with an amateur fight at welterweight back in March in Massachusetts. He didn't tell his father what he was doing. Ferguson Jr. wanted to make his own way.

"I didn't ask for any help," he said. "I wanted to show these guys that I was serious about it and this is something that I really wanted to do and that's what I did. Now I have all the help that I need. I have all the right guys in my corner."

After that bout, Ferguson Jr. said he had a long talk with Slice about his future plans in MMA. "Baby Slice" is now represented by Slice's longtime friend and manager "Icey" Mike Imber — "it's only right," Ferguson Jr. said — and decided to go pro with Bellator shortly afterward.

Kimbo Slice died in May at the age 42 after battling heart issues. Ferguson Jr. said he and his father were close and his death only made him want to accelerate his MMA journey. Fighting is just something in their blood.

"I've always wanted to be a fighter," Ferguson said. "I didn't want to go to school. I didn't even want to go to high school honestly, I just wanted to be in the gym and fight."

Slice wanted his son to go to school first, get an education and then, if that didn't work out, he could fight. So that's what Ferguson Jr. did. He went to college and took up photography. But fighting drew him back in and that's the path he always knew he'd be on.

So when fighters challenge him just because he's the son of Kimbo Slice, Ferguson Jr. wants them to bring it on. He's here, he said, and ready to go.

"All these guys calling me out, I want them to call me out," Ferguson Jr. said. "I want them to think they could step in the ring with me and step in the cage with me and step in the cage with me, because then they're gonna be in for a rude awakening. I've been doing this for a while. I'm just ready to showcase my skills and let the world know.

"It's really no pressure with [Kimbo Slice] being my father. It's just more eyes on me. I got a bigger fanbase now because of him. All his fans are my fans."