Bellator 179: “MacDonald vs. Daley” takes place later tonight (Fri., May 19, 2017) at SSE Arena in London, England, featuring the long-awaited promotional debut of “Red King” Rory MacDonald against renowned striker, Paul “Semtex” Daley, in Spike TV’s tape-delayed main event.
In a development that only further heightens interest in the international card, Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr. was added to the bill, taking on D.J. Griffin in a Welterweight showdown. Baby Slice (0-1) has more than just his late father’s famous name to worry about — he also has to impress a now skeptical audience who saw him stumble at his debut in San Jose and get submitted by the previously winless Aaron Hamilton.
Griffin is actually making his pro mixed martial arts (MMA) debut against Slice, which may make him ideal for Slice to turn things around, but that doesn’t mean the preparation for London was any less intense.
“I’m feeling pretty good. I worked hard in training camp, you know everything should be good, and you know I’m just ready to get it over with at this point.”
Although the fight came about on short notice, Slice was preparing for the possibility of being added to any upcoming Bellator event stateside or abroad.
“Well, I was just training for the most part. You know I didn’t really know when I was going to fight and what date. I just stayed into the gym, and then my coach just told me, and I was already ready so I just worked a little bit harder the last couple of weeks.”
Even though Slice kicked it up a notch in training, there was nothing specific in the gameplan for facing Griffin because, well, it’s hard to scout a debuting fighter.
“I don’t pretty much know anything about him, you know? I just train hard and I know if I push myself in the training camp and I work hard then I should be ready for any opponent and what they’re bringing to the table.”
Even though Griffin may be an unknown quantity to solve in the equation, Slice can look back at his Aaron Hamilton fight and see a few variables to change heading to London.
“Definitely my technique wasn’t there. In some of my ground positions my technique wasn’t proper so you know he kept getting up and I couldn’t really dominate how I wanted to. I feel like in this fight I worked on that a lot — my technique. I feel like you guys are gonna see that in this fight.”
Sound in theory, but difficult to do in practice when you’re the son of a famous combat sports superstar such as Kimbo Slice. Slice takes his late father’s legacy in stride and stays focused.
“It’s definitely no pressure at all. I mean he prepared me for this, for this moment, and I always knew this is what I wanted to do in the long run. I’m just doing what I love to do at this point.”
Slice knows the expectations are high, though, given the kind of entertaining brawler his dad was; therefore, he aims to have the cardio to outlast his opponents and deliver even more punishment.
“Sprints man, a lot of sprints! Living in California we got the luxury of those hills, so I sprint those hills a lot. I feel like that should help me a lot — and that helped me a lot. I’m very confident in that at this point.”
Although Friday’s fight is at 170 pounds, it’s just a small step in Slice’s much bigger plan to wreck shop in Bellator’s stacked Lightweight division.
“I’m going Lightweight ... Lightweight for sure. Oh yeah, in a couple of years I definitely will be ready to face one of them. I give myself two years ... and they won’t be able to touch me.”
With only one fight under his belt so far, Slice is still something of an unknown commodity, so I asked him directly what people should know about him they don’t already.
“I’m a hard worker you know, that’s it. Like I’m a hard worker, I’ll push the pace and you know I’m coming to do damage in every punch, every takedown, in everything I do in the cage. I’m looking to hurt my opponent.”
Slice seems ready to let his actions speak louder than his words in London, but he does have a prediction for the fight with Griffin before fans arrive at SSE Arena.
“Definitely (a knockout). If not then either he’s gonna quit or the ref’s gonna’ stop it.”
It’s time for Slice to let both his critics and opponents eat their words in the Bellator cage.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded in the video player above and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here.