Kimbo Slice has UFC staying power
There were 4.1 million viewers for the show's debut, and another million watched the replay. The major draw of the show is Kimbo Slice, the former YouTube street-fighting sensation who had a brief run in the short-lived Elite Xtreme Combat fighting organization that aired fights on CBS.
Although filming for "The Ultimate Fighter" is complete -- except for the finale to be aired live in December, with the winner earning a six-figure contract and membership in the UFC -- White told The Times that whether Slice wins or loses during the competition, he'll be in the UFC.
"Are you going to see Kimbo Slice fight again in the UFC? Yes," White said.
Asked if that was a decision based on the first episode's ratings, White said: "No, never. The ratings do not influence our decision. The guy can either fight or not."
White said one of the strongest endorsements he received about Slice's skill in the octagon came from former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, who's a coach in the show and told White he wants to continue working with Slice at his elite MMA training compound directed by respected trainer Greg Jackson in New Mexico.
"We've been very impressed with Kimbo's performance," added UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta.
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Kimbo Slice. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times