Rap has Andre 3000, but street fighting has Dada 5000.
Dhafir Harris has at times been compared (positively) to Don King in his ability to hype and promote fights. He's also somewhat infamous given that many of them were underground and unsanctioned "street fights" of the type that made Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson famous on YouTube long before he began a professional mixed martial arts MMA career.
Both Dada and Slice hail from the same rough neighborhood in South Miami, Florida. And as Slice went from underground street legend into mainstream MMA, Dada worked for a time as his bodyguard. This position increased Dada's reputation even further -- after all, you'd have to be an incredible badass for Kimbo to want your protection.
Word about Dada 5000 reached director Billy Corben, best known for "Cocaine Cowboys" and ESPN's "30 for 30" film series documentary "The U," and he decided to tell the story of the underground fight scene in "Dawg Fight." It also led to the end of 5000's unsanctioned street fight circuit as law enforcement arrived to shut down his shows.
The good news for Harris is that he turned a negative into a positive, now competing himself on the professional MMA circuit. In fact, he has found his life come full circle with a professional event called BYB Extreme: "Battleship I," which takes place later tonight (Fri., June 5, 2015). Harris talked to MMAmania.com earlier today about "Dawg Fight," his relationship with Slice, and why this weekend's show is on a cruise ship in international waters and much more.
Check it out:
"We're known for raising the bar. We're known for doing things out of the norm. Boxing and wrestling has always fought in the squared circle. MMA fighters, in the Octagon. But no, not us! We don't want to be like everybody else. We came up with our own concoction! It's called the Trigon. A three-sided, $30,000 diamond shaped triangular cage, that's enhanced to promote confrontation on a very, very competitive stage. To do it anywhere else would literally be uncivilized."
For those concerned about it being civilized, BYB does adhere to recognized standards of MMA -- no strikes to the groin, no grabbing the cage, no shots to the back of the head and so forth. The most significant difference will be the time limit -- one 10-minute round with no break. You win, you lose, or the officials decide -- no adding up the rounds.
Harris promises this will equal excitement:
"The reason why I put this card together like this is to pay homage to some of these dudes that actually helped formulate history known as the backyard brawls. On the next card, which is gonna be roughly about a month or so from now, the winners off of this card I'll match them with individuals that have been blowing my e-mail up from all over the world. We're an equal opportunity employer, we're the gray area between MMA and boxing, and we're not political."
"Dawg Fight" hints at the history between Slice and "Dada 5000," growing up together literally down the street from each other, going to the same school and being on the same fight scene. Harris worked for a time as security for Slice, but says the fame and the entourage went to his head.
"Me, I was a friend. I was a real trooper, a stand up guy to him, even when the individuals that was around him was just there for a paycheck. I know Kevin Ferguson. Kimbo Slice came along later in life. One thing I learned about this business is this: Once you start to become a phenomenon, now you meet people who know what's best for you. They just met you a second ago, but they'll tell you what's best for you like they knew you all your life. I was the one that was keeping his vision clear, so a lot of people was jealous of the relationship that we had."
Harris is not letting his soured friendship with Ferguson stand in the way of his vision for the future, nor his plans to make sure that fighters can make real money from their fights ... particularly in BYB.
"Some people call it violence -- this is an alternative toward violence. I've structured an organization for them to fight on to make very good money, to showcase their talents and skills to the world, as opposed to having them in your backyard when you come from a hard day's work. A lot of individuals they don't see it like that. I'm creating opportunity for my people to do better things, so they can provide for their families and put food on the table."
Harris promises that win or lose, no fighter on BYB Extreme: "Battleship I" is walking away with less than $1,000 for the night, which by his own account is twice what his opponent in the film Cedric "Killa Gorilla" James made.
"I fought Cedric James on the documentary card, right? They only gave him 500 bucks. Five hundred dollars?! And he's a pro athlete!! SIX FIGHTS IN BEFORE MINE - and that's all they gave him, on that mega stage, was five hundred dollars? If you gotta pay your trainers and everybody out of that, that's why people are getting away from the fight game, because they're saying that it's not worth it. Technically, it's not worth it."
James will be on the BYB card along with many other underground and indie-level fighters. If you're quick to judge, just remember that Jorge Masvidal and Alex "Bruce Leeroy" Caceres came from the same street fighting scene as Dada 5000 and Slice.
Listen to our full interview with Harris below and check out BYB on GFL.tv later this evening.