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Michael Jai White remembers Kimbo Slice: 'I can't imagine anybody meeting that guy and not liking him'

The lifelong martial artist, director, and star of "Never Back Down: No Surrender," remembers the late Kimbo Slice.

Michael Jai White in 'Never Back Down: No Surrender'
Michael Jai White in 'Never Back Down: No Surrender'
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The mixed martial arts (MMA) community lost one of its own on Monday night (June 6, 2016) when Kimbo Slice, real name Kevin Ferguson, passed away while awaiting a heart transplant after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure a few days prior.

Slice, 42, rose to prominence from the neighborhood of Perrine, Florida, after his street fights began showing on YouTube. Soon after, the internet sensation got a chance in the cage for Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC). He then signed on with Elite XC and truly hit the big time, transcending MMA to the masses as the promotion began broadcasting on CBS. Slice's two fights vs. James Thompson and Seth Petruzelli set ratings records for the sport that still stand today.

He, of course, starred in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 10, fought twice in UFC, had a brief stint in boxing, and then finished with two fights in Bellator, where he again set records ratings.

His entire career, he maintained his status as a huge draw and remained a household name.

As ferocious as he was in fighting, and intimidating to see in person, Slice was loved by many and seen as an enduring figure to family, peers and teammates. The late fighting legend was also seen that way by those who knew him from the action-movie world like long-time martial artist and actor, Michael Jai White.

White worked with Slice during the filming of "Blood and Bone," and a video of White teaching Slice martial arts principles -- which has millions upon millions of views -- can be found on Youtube.

"Over 16 million people have seen the concept I showed Kimbo Slice -- rest in peace -- of how to throw an un-telegraphed punch," White said recently. "Those are traditional martial arts ethics."

White just directed and acted in "Never Back Down: Never Surrender," with UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett, Esai Morales, Nathan Jones and Stephen Quadros, which was released on Tuesday (June 7, 2016) through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The analogy he used while teaching those punches to Slice at that time was brake lights on a car and how the human eye needs to see them in order to prevent from crashing into the back of a vehicle.

"There's ways that the eyes perceive motion coming forward," said White, who reprised the role of former MMA champion, Case Walker in his latest film. "These are all constructs of traditional martial arts and I've actually put it in application in fighting because if somebody can't block your punch, I think people would agree that is effective."

The star of "Spawn," "Black Dynamite," and "Falcon Rising," now 48, owns a black belt in several different martial arts including: Shotokan, Kyokushin, and Taekwondo among others. He has also sparred and trained with some prominent fighters and champions in both boxing and MMA and  is proud to not only teach his techniques, but apply them in his films as well.

"I've trained Josh Barnett, some professional boxers in the past, former heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster, just recently Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson -- a number of people on these concepts," said White. "I'm just bringing these concepts and some of these traditional aspects to the movie. What people are seeing is actual stuff that actually works. In MMA, most people have… their striking is that they've just learned basic Thai boxing, which doesn't really focus on particular pinpoint striking as if you started out in a traditional martial art where you are throwing thousands of techniques with pinpoint accuracy and learning how to break objects. I'm bringing that back into the MMA arena."

As he did to the many that knew him, Slice had a profound affect on White as well. He explained why the street-fighting legend and MMA star was so incredibly endearing and well received by his fans and those around him.

"The reason why he resonated with so many people is because he had a great heart. I can't imagine anybody meeting that guy and not liking him. There is just an honor and a dignity that he carried with him. You know he didn't come from the same means as many of us. I think he appreciated where he was in life and he accepted people so well, and he will be missed and I'm sorry to see him go so early."