It’s pretty much a well-known fact that EliteXC had to pay Kimbo Slice and Seth Petruzelli extra money to take the fight at EliteXC “Heat” at the last minute, and understandably so. Neither fighter was under any obligation to fight against a different opponent than they contracted to face, and in Kimbo’s case, there was really no upside besides extra cash to take the fight.
Upon the news of Seth being confirmed to replace Ken Shamrock, I saw quite a few blog comments and forum posters throwing out the notion that EliteXC was paying Seth to take a dive. Obviously, that didn’t turn out to be true as Seth took Kimbo out in 14 seconds, but according to Seth during this radio interview (10min mark), it sounds like EliteXC wasn’t entirely innocent. Big thanks to Fightlinker for the transcription and Bloody Elbow for the link.
M: Even though you only had an hour to get ready for this fight against kimbo, what was your strategy fighting against Kimbo, uh, err, uh, were you tryin to uh, submission him out?
SP: My original plan was to throw a lot of push kicks, called teeps, and try to rush in more, and then shoot in on him, obviously.
M: So you wanted to get him on the ground? There’s no way you wanted to box him standing up?
SP: Not really, but I train with lots of undefeated pro boxers, a couple guys have a belt, and my style kinda throws them off a bit, I have kind of an awkward style. So, I knew I would do alright standing up with him. THE PROMOTERS KINDA HINTED TO ME, AND THEY GAVE ME THE MONEY TO STAND AND TRADE WITH HIM. THEY DIDN’T WANT ME TO TAKE HIM DOWN. LETS JUST PUT IT THAT WAY.
M: Ahhh.. ok.
SP: It was worth my while to try and stand up and punch with him.”
I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not, and I’m betting none of you are either. It’s shit like this that will hurt MMA much more so than the whole Kimbo charade. People got sick of boxing because of all the corruption, and while this is no where near the level of what’s taken place in boxing, it all starts somewhere, and it’s a road I hope we never see mixed martial arts go down. I’m not naive enough to think that shit like this hasn’t happened before, as we’ve recently heard bits and pieces of things going down in PRIDE, but any promoter/executive/official caught doing anything that’s not legit should be banned by the athletic commissions for life. I’m sorry, but shit like this truly infuriates me, and shouldn’t be tolerated.
I really hope this isn’t true, EliteXC. If this story picks up any steam, and I’m sure it will, I expect they’ll issue some kind of statement fully denying it, so we’ll likely never know for certain whether or not it is true. If it is, at least it backfired on them.
From the interview, it’s also worth noting that Seth said he was paid six figures to take the fight with Kimbo, although he didn’t give the exact amount. I can only imagine what Kimbo was paid. Also, Seth said he and his manager suggested to EliteXC about making a light heavyweight title match against Tito Ortiz, and EliteXC sounded interested. Of course, they would have to sign Tito first, but it’s definitely a fight I could see EliteXC putting on if they do.
[UPDATE 10/06/08 9:03PM ET] – Sam Caplan spoke to Seth Petruzelli after the story broke. It appears Petruzelli’s story has changed.
“What was meant to be said was that I wanted to keep the fight standing for myself because I knew that was what the crowd, the promoters, and everyone wanted to see because that’s more exciting than just taking someone to the ground. That was my thing only. I wanted to keep it exciting so I decided to keep it standing. It had nothing to do with anybody else. That was all me.”
Upon being asked directly whether EliteXC officials had even hinted that he could receive a bonus by keeping the fight standing, Petruzelli clarified that no such act had taken place.
“No. Look, even the UFC gives knockout bonuses. Everyone gives knockout bonuses. There’s knockout bonuses, submission bonuses, all sorts of bonuses. I just wanted to keep it standing because I felt I could beat (Kimbo) at his own game.”
As you can see, the comments he made on the radio and the ones he made to Caplan are entirely different. I listened to the radio interview earlier. The conclusion that most have drawn from his initial comments were not taken out of context in my opinion, although Seth is disputing that they were. It’s possible he misspoke earlier, or perhaps he is changing his story to avoid trouble. We’ll keep you posted.
[UPDATE 10/06/08 9:03PM ET] – The inevitable denial from EliteXC.
“Obviously we didn’t pay [Petruzelli] to stand,” EliteXC Head of Fight Operations Jeremy Lappen told Sherdog.com on Monday when informed of Petruzelli’s comments. “Kimbo had trained for months to fight a guy who’s fighting on the ground. We don’t care if people stand or take people down or what. It doesn’t matter to us. All we want is an exciting fight.”
Obviously, true or not, EliteXC wasn’t going to fess up to it. That doesn’t mean their necessarily lying, but it also doesn’t mean they aren’t either. Hopefully, somehow, someway, the truth comes out because if it’s determined this allegation took place, the individuals involved need to be fired immediately and banned from mixed martial arts for life. We, as fans and consumers who pay their bills, shouldn’t accept anything less.
“I will also say, the story he said, I had heard that story long before Seth Petruzelli said it. I believe it to be true, I cannot tell you that is fact. I got nothing against standup fighting, obviously. You wanna do standup fighting, go kick box, there is a sport for you. If you don’t want to still kick, then go box. If you wanna do MMA, then you need to be able to deal with wrestling…. When Tommy Morrison did “MMA” a couple years ago, his opponent was told no takedowns….Those are the rules…Wait a minute, this is boxing…it obvious the guys a real boxer….then why don’t they just box…”
Thanks to reader Drew for the heads up.
Seth Petruzelli said that he was paid to stand with Kimbo. Well, he said that and then he claimed he never said it. For what it’s worth, we heard in the days leading up to the fight that Ken Shamrock was being paid to stand with him as well. It’s a pretty shady way of doing business, and while it’s not outright working the fight it is attempting to give one man an advantage — or a perceived advantage, as did didn’t help Kimbo one goddamn bit — over another.
[UPDATE 10/07/08 11:20AM ET] – The other inevitable denial from EliteXC. Jared ‘$kala’ Shaw:
“Absolutely not,” Shaw answered to questions if the allegations were true. “Whether that was something Seth was taken out of context or Seth was trying to say something different, I don’t know. What I can tell you, I was in the locker room with Seth with the contract; that did not happen.
“Why in a million years would we ask Seth to not take Kimbo down? That’s crazy. That’s all Kimbo’s been working on is the ground game. Ken Shamrock, 84 percent of his wins are submission and through the ground, so Kimbo was ready for the ground. If anybody knows Seth Petruzelli, he’s a K-1 fighter, I wouldn’t want him standing. So to say ‘don’t take him down,’ that’s ridiculous.”
For the record, it’s a stretch to say Seth is a K-1 fighter. He fought a couple times in K-1 a few years back, but that would be like saying Jerome LeBanner and Mighty Mo are mixed martial artists.
[UPDATE 10/07/08 3:59PM ET] – I’m going to just keep updating this post so everyone’s story is one place and there’s no confusion. The latest is the state of Florida does not intend to investigate because no official complaint has been filed. Department of Business and Professional Regulation Press Secretary Alexis Antonacci:
“The Department has not received any official complaints regarding the fight Saturday night. At this time, we have no reason to believe that any wrongdoing occurred. If we did receive a complaint, we would conduct a thorough investigation of all allegations.”
I’m guessing fans, journalists, bloggers, etc. can’t file these complaints because I’m quite certain none of the alleged parties involved are going to.
Petruzelli’s story has changed a little once again. Now he says there was a knockout bonus and the discrepancy between the disclosed $50,000 and the six-figure remark from the interview was because of the bonus and sponsorships (who by the way got a lot of bang for their buck).
We specifically asked Petruzelli if he had been contacted by EliteXC following the 104.1 FM interview and before he issued comment to us Monday afternoon.
“No, not at all,” he responded. “Honestly, when I woke up in the morning my words were jumbled and obviously my head was in a daze from drinking (laughs) the entire night. Reading the transcript, I actually now feel I worded it perfectly in what I wanted to say. I wanted to keep the fight standing and they offered a knockout bonus and I wanted to get the knockout bonus.”
“The knockout bonus was the additional money. And my sponsors — I added my sponsors in there too for it. So it was a knockout bonus plus my sponsorships that I got.”
So now there is a knockout bonus which by the way is entirely different than the allegation. A knockout bonus does not give either fighter an advantage, whereas paying someone to keep it standing is attempting to influence the outcome of the fight by taking away the favored fighter’s perceived weakness, thus giving him a perceived advantage.
[UPDATE 10/07/08 7:19PM ET] – CBSSports.com spoke more in-depth with Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation spokesperson Alexis Antonacci. She says the FSBC is aware of the comments in question, however they have determined there is no evidence of foul play.
“After further review of the comments that are in question, we believe that he is referring to the fact that he got paid more to keep the show going,” Antonacci said. “Meaning that before the fight, Ken Shamrock was injured and couldn’t fight Kimbo Slice. So Seth stepped in and said ‘OK, I’ll fight him.’ And without that, there wouldn’t have been a main event that night.”
“We have no reason to believe that there was any wrongdoing that occurred,” Antonacci said. “Seth stepped in to fight Kimbo Slice because Ken Shamrock was injured, and therefore, you know, signed a new contract, and was paid based on moving up in the card, being a part of the main event.”
I highly disagree with their interpretation. She said, however, that they would conduct a full investigation if a formal complaint was filed. If a violation was found, possible punishments could include suspending a person’s license, permanently revoking it, or permanent probation, although all punishments are determined on a case-by-case basis. She also said that if it was found that the allegations were true it wouldn’t be considered “fight fixing,” but it would be considered a violation.