Bellator MMA comes to Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, with "Shamrock vs. Gracie 3" on Feb. 19, 2016. At the top of the Spike TV-televised card, an Openweight fight will settle a decades-long grudge between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie after their last match ended in a record-setting, 36-minute draw.
Their trilogy match isn't the only one that's been simmering for a long time. "Dada 5000" was once best friends with Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson, trusted enough to serve as his bodyguard. However, Dada felt Kimbo was making him promises he didn't keep and, therefore, the former Miami street brawlers parted ways.
And with no shortage of 305-inspired bad blood.
After some success on his own as both a fighter and promoter, Dada 5000 brings his "movement" to Bellator 149, where he will attempt to substitute bad blood outside the cage for spilling a little of it on the inside. He and Kimbo will meet in a highly anticipated Heavyweight brawl in the co-main event.
Dada, birth name Dhafir Harris, recently spoke with MMAmania.com about his enthusiasm for the showdown. And make no mistake about it -- Harris would take the fight right now if it was possible.
"It was long overdue. Thanks to the great people over there at Bellator for putting it together. It's something that I feel the people wanted to see, it's something that needs to be done. I was incomplete without this. I was forever getting looked at as Kimbo's shadow or Kimbo's protege or something like that. I'm my own person, I have my own identity. I think that it was about time y'know for me to go on and put this guy in his place since he's forgotten where he comes from. Bellator 149 out in Houston, Texas, is gonna be awesome."
Harris would also like to clear up what it meant to be Kimbo's "bodyguard" for a stretch of time. To him, it didn't mean walking in front of Kimbo to catch fists, but rather being a friend who could run interference for him when needed.
"When I say I was his bodyguard, it was not so much that this guy needs me to fight for him, because he's capable of defending himself. That's like a smaller aspect. I played cornerback to intercept problems, right? I'd see certain situations and stop them before it gets to him. He's easily to be provoked, right? You're talking about people coming up y'know getting slick and y'know putting (Kimbo) inside a position so you can throw a punch and then you get sued and you lose everything. It was multiple roles that I would play."
There's not much that Harris expected for his services other than to get a little exposure as part of Team Kimbo, but he says that money and fame went to Slice's head to the point that he forgot about his friends.
"The love that I had for him, he did not have for me in return, y'know? I would get up at all hours of the night at the drop of a dime if he needed me, and I flew wherever they needed me to fly at. I was there 100 percent because that was my friend. And I started seeing a shift in him, because I'm stronger than him, so individuals started getting inside of his head like, 'You gotta watch Dada. Dada's gonna take your spot.' Man, I'm just being me."
To Harris, it seemed that through money and fame, Kimbo became a caricature of the Kevin Ferguson he knew his whole life growing up.
"He's basically alienated himself away from everybody else, and yo, the community is HOT -- they're pissed with him y'know? He's changed! He's not the same guy that was on the streets. Look at him on his videos, sipping tea with his pinky out y'know? Who does that?!"
Good friends grew over time to be bitter rivals, but sometimes sworn enemies become close compadres through shedding blood in a fight. I asked Dada if there was any chance they'd shake hands and squash the beef.
"I wouldn't be the guy that preaches what I preach to the guys in the backyard (if I didn't) because they show love to each other. After a win or a loss, they get up and they hug each other. I will extend my hand. Will he take it? NO! Let me correct that -- I will extend my hand after they put the smelling salt underneath him, and they bring him back y'know? But, I know for a fact he would not shake my hand, because this fight is about as personal as personal can get! This is for real, this is not for the camera!"
Harris also offered a few predictions on how he thinks the "Shamrock vs. Gracie 3" co-main event is going to go.
"At the end of the day (I'm) brutal, I'm a slugger, I'm a brawler -- and HE'S SCARED!! Don't get it confused -- he has every right to be! We're both just one punch away from victory! The difference is he's fixin' to get bombarded, and he don't know which way they're going to come from. (At) Bellator 149 two things are going to happen -- he's going to lose, and he's going to retire."
The variable nature of MMA makes it hard to be dead certain about anything. It seems like they'll square up at the center of the cage and throw bombs, but I asked Dada about the remote possibility of Kimbo going for submissions instead.
"We all know man. He's been inside the game like almost 10 years, and nobody in MMA really respects him, man. You don't have to agree with me, you know it's true! He's been inside the business for a while (and yet) everybody knows you get him on the ground, he has no ground game. He shouldn't be ranked as a belt. The only belt that guy has is the one he uses to hold his pants up!"
If we do see the most unlikely scenario possible -- Kimbo shooting for a takedown -- Harris vows to make him pay.
"(If he does) I'ma hurt him. Them hammer strikes is vicious. I'ma hurt him. I'm cerebral, man. I can train for him, he can't train for me, his life is an open book. He's not that technical. Let's go back to Ken Shamrock, man, you seen it. I mean s--t, man I get that guy like that man, y'all are gonna have to airlift him. F--- the ambulance taking him away! I hope he fights in a dome with a retractable roof, so the helicopter can come right down and take him out! I'm too much! I don't have to have correct technique -- I'm just that much of a brute!"
If he wants a retractable dome they'll have to move Bellator 149 from Toyota Center to the NRG Center (formerly the Reliant Center), but either way, expect the roof to come off the place -- and in several homes in Miami, Fla. -- when Dada finally knuckles up with Kimbo next weekend.
Complete audio of our interview is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.