HOUSTON -- It may not have been pretty, but Kimbo Slice walked away a winner at Bellator 149.
Slice overcame extreme exhaustion to knock out rival Dada 5000, aka Dhafir Harris, with a third-round volley of strikes in Friday night's heavily hyped co-main event, putting a stamp on one of the more bizarre grudge matches in MMA history and fulfilling the many promises he made to Harris throughout a wacky fight week.
"Losing is not an option for me," Slice said at Bellator 149's post-fight press conference. "You've got to really just beat the hell out of me in there. I never just give up. I don't care if you've got a submission, you're going to have to break it. If you got a neck, you're going to have to choke me out, put me to sleep. And if you got better hands, you're going to have to knock me out silly for the ref to stop it.
"I'm that type of fighter. I'm not going to never, never just give up in a fight. As long as I can breathe, and I get back to my feet, we're going to go."
Breathing proved to be a tough ask for both Slice and Harris, as both men appeared to gas early in a fight which gradually devolved from spectacle to something else entirely.
The sloppiness grew so bad that at one point veteran referee John McCarthy stood Slice up from mount position. Even the end was among the more odd finishes in recent memory, as Harris appeared to collapse backward under the combined weight of a Slice right hook and his own exhaustion.
For his part, Slice (6-2) was less than thrilled by his own performance, expressing surprise at how much the weight disparity between the two men affected his stamina. Harris tipped the scales at the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds at Thursday's weigh-ins, while Slice came in at a much trimmer 232 pounds.
"It was really the weight," Slice said. "I underestimated the weight. It's all good. It went three rounds, I did good.
"It lets me know that I have to continue to train with a little bit more bigger guys to get used to that weight. He was a pretty strong dude. He took punches better than I thought, but hard work in training camp pays off."
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the fight was Slice's willingness to go to the ground, an area which has traditionally been Slice's greatest Achilles heel. The 42-year-old backyard brawler took Harris to the mat several times throughout the contest, and though he achieved dominant positions seemingly with ease, he never mounted any significant offense or threatened with submissions.
Slice attributed his lack of action on the ground to simply following the gameplan laid out by American Top Team coach Mike Brown, although he playfully hinted at a desire to work on his jiu-jitsu ahead of his next Bellator outing, which is expected to arrive in July.
"Man, I saw a lot of submission I wanted to go for," Slice said, laughing. "But Mikey (Mike Brown), he said, ‘Kimbo, let's just stick to an old-fashioned KO. ... That's why I said, you know what, a couple of takedowns on anybody -- to go down and get back up, to go down and get back up -- it'll take a toll on you, especially a heavier fighter. So a few times, I took him down, kept him down, tried to put my weight on him, but backed up off or to let John get us back up.
"(But) dude," Slice added, "how epic would it be if I finished a fight with some submissions? Right? That's what I'm saying, man. I still have goals."