NEWARK, N.J. – While millions of viewers around the country were able to tune in to a night of live mixed martial arts action on network television, far fewer were able to witness a verbal exchange turned near-altercation between victorious EliteXC heavyweight fighters Brett Rogers and Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson –- and Ferguson's entourage.
The tension began to brew before Ferguson had even made his way to the post-event press conference that followed Saturday's "EliteXC: PRIMETIME" event.
Rogers, who defeated Jon Murphy in the night's first televised bout, was one of the first fighters at the conference to address the media, and he made it a point to discuss what he felt was a less-than-stellar performance by headliner Ferguson.
"I seen some [expletive] today," Rogers said. "I seen some [expletive], some garbage-ass [expletive]. I'm a heavyweight, and I feel I'm a true heavyweight. (James) Thompson? Much respect. But I'm saying it like this. Kimbo Slice, man, that was just garbage, man."
The conflict continued to grow when Ferguson took to the podium 20 minutes later. Before speaking, Ferguson shook the hand of every fighter on the panel. Rogers did so reluctantly and with a disgusted look on his face as he refused to look Ferguson in the eye.
When a reporter brought Rogers' earlier statements to Ferguson's attention, the YouTube legend did his best to defuse the issue.
"Everybody's entitled to their opinion," Ferguson said.
Moments later, with Ferguson still at the podium, Rogers was asked directly if he would like to match up with Ferguson in his next bout.
"Looking at the fight tonight, man, yeah," Rogers said. "A man is man. And what I saw in this man today, it was just garbage."
Rogers then turned and addressed Ferguson directly and brought up a controversial "phantom tap" that some believe occurred at the close of the second round.
"I'm going to speak it real," Rogers said. "It was garbage. You did tap. You did tap out (and) I was right there."
Ferguson responded immediately.
"That sounds like a challenge, big dog," Ferguson said.
As Ferguson and his entourage converged on Rogers (and the entire stage), "The Grim" refused to back down. Media members, including a certain MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) reporter who sat just a few feet from the stage, soon found themselves -- literally -- in the middle of the melee.
"It is a challenge," Rogers replied.
As the EliteXC staff worked to restore order, the two fighters glared intently across the podium. Ferguson was being restrained by EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw and Vice President Jared Shaw, as well as members of his entourage, while Rogers was being held back by fellow panelist Phil Baroni.
Despite the best efforts of many, the verbal tirade between the two continued.
"I ain't letting no bush [slur] call me out like that, man," Ferguson said.
"You talking all hard, and you bring that garbage-ass [expletive] today," Rogers replied.
Ferguson was quickly calmed by Gary and Jared Shaw, but members of Ferguson's entourage continued to shout at Rogers.
"You a hater," the group directed repeatedly at Rogers.
"I'm a hater?" Rogers asked. "I'm a hater because I'm putting [Ferguson] on the spot?"
A member of Ferguson's management was finally able to corral the majority of the entourage, telling Ferguson that, "We'll get our chance in the cage."
The tense moment was finally over as Ferguson and his entourage left the room, and further questioning resumed for the remaining panel members.