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“Any venue I fight in, it’s gonna be like that,” said Slice. “I guess it’s safe to say I don’t mind being the gatekeeper (Laughs), I look at it like that.”

Miami’s Slice, 35, also looked at the TUF experience as a way to get six solid weeks of training with top-notch coaches and a diverse array of fellow heavyweights.

“The opportunity to be around all heavyweights, that just don’t happen,” he said. “There are a lot of gyms out here in the States, but none of them have as many heavyweights as we had at one time like this. There were a lot of different guys with a lot of different skills, and it was a good opportunity. But training don’t stop at four weeks, five weeks, six weeks. You’ve got to train year-round to be a good fighter, and be ready at any given time.”

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It’s a mindset learned in an atmosphere many fighters would envy, but also one that could crush those not prepared for the wave of interviews, photo ops, and television cameras. Slice, whose intimidating presence in competition is in stark contrast to his soft-spoken affability outside of it, handles his obligations in the public eye with ease. But now, with the stakes higher than they’ve ever been for him professionally, it’s time to see whether he’s more than just an exciting brawler with heavy hands.

“That’s part of the territory and it’s to be expected,” said Slice. “You know you’ve got a target, so suit up. When I say that, you know you’re going into battle, so you can’t go in without your helmet. You gotta get your helmet, your shin guards, your shield, and you’ve got to be well-rounded if you’re gonna try to be an Ultimate Fighter. So I just can’t come with one dimension – I’d get smashed. So I gotta suit up. I gotta learn ground and wrestling, and I gotta be prepared for mixed martial arts.”


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