Zach Arnold put together a great article earlier on the mainstream media’s coverage of the EliteXC alleged bribery scandal. It has snowballed into a public relations nightmare for EliteXC as the mainstream press has picked up on the story. Dana White has finally broke his silence on the subject, and as you probably expected, he didn’t have anything nice to say about EliteXC. White’s former nemesis, Gary Shaw, who is officially still an EliteXC consultant, also put in his two cents, and it certainly doesn’t help EliteXC’s cause.
Dana White had this to say to The Boston Herald.
“It disgusts me,” White said. “I’ve been busting my (expletive) for 10 years flying all over the planet to show everybody what a great sport this is and what amazing people are involved in it. Then CBS throws this guy who fights at people’s barbecues on the main event because they’re trying to compete with us, and he gets knocked out in (14) seconds by a guy who didn’t win ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and couldn’t fight in the UFC. Then the guy turns around the next day and says, ‘The promoters actually paid me to not go to the ground with this guy. They paid me to stand up,’ which I’m pretty sure is illegal.”
“It put a nail in my coffin, too,” White said. “When dirty people go out and do stuff like that, it hurts. Promoters have a bad rap as it is because of the last 100 years of boxing. We actually started to turn that around and were doing the right things and then you have these guys coming out and doing (expletive) like that. It hurts us.”
I always try to be fair with my commentary, and although I’ve criticized Dana White in that past, I can’t blame him one bit for being upset about the situation. Obviously, White has put in a ton of work over the years to get the sport where it is today, including getting the sport sanctioned with the state athletic commissions. In doing so, the UFC brand has become synonymous with MMA in the general population’s perception. While that has largely benefited the company, it’s also a double-edged sword when one of their competitors makes the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The majority of the casual fans likely know the difference between the UFC and EliteXC by now, however there are still the uninformed, who don’t even realize the sport has rules now, who will pick up the newspaper and associate the UFC with this scandal. It’s a shame, but it is a reality Dana has to face, and a battle he has to fight.
And then there’s Gary Shaw. Considering Shaw is still technically with EliteXC in a consulting role, you would at least think his comments would jive with the rest of EliteXC’s statements. Guess what? They don’t.
Gary Shaw in The Los Angeles Times.
But Elite XC consultant Gary Shaw said he wouldn’t hesitate to “go to a fighter and say, ‘We’re looking for a stand-up fight.’ You’re not asking him to throw a fight. You’re talking about a fan-friendly fight, not about protecting Kimbo.”
Shaw said he has urged MMA fighters in the past to maximize the action, to avoid an abundance of yawn-inspiring wrestling.
“Do I think that’s unethical? No,” Shaw said. “Because in MMA, you get bonus money for a knockout. I don’t see it as unethical . . . asking him to be TV and fan friendly.”
Jeremy Lappen from the same article.
“Seth Petruzelli was offered a fee to fight Kimbo Slice, plus a knockout bonus, a common practice throughout the industry. Elite XC organizes and promotes fights. We have not, do not, and will not suggest or dictate fighters’ strategies or tactics. How the fighters perform in the cage is at the sole discretion of the athletes involved.”
Well, at least they got the knockout bonus story straight.
In all seriousness though, there’s just too many inconsistencies amongst everyone’s stories for something not to be up. Quite honestly, I would much rather see some sort of evidence be presented that clears EliteXC of any wrongdoing, however, all we have to go on is everyone’s comments, and so far, all the parties involved have done nothing but contradict each other and themselves, and that warrants further investigation.
While this scandal may shed a negative light on mixed martial arts for the time being, it’s absolutely necessary these allegations are properly investigated. If there are guilty parties in this case, it is imperative they be dealt with appropriately to prevent them from doing something worse in the future. It all starts somewhere. Give ’em an inch, and they’ll take a mile.
On a quick side note, Lance Pugmire of The Los Angeles Times quoted us in his story referenced above! I’ve never been one to toot my own horn, so I’ve been torn on whether or not I should mention it, but many of the other site have devoted an entire post to announcing when they’ve been featured in a mainstream media article or on a TV show, so I figured a foot note would be appropriate. Anyways, here’s the quote they took from this post.
“It’s [stuff] like this that will hurt MMA much more so than the whole Kimbo charade,” Steve Barry wrote on MMAconvert.com. “People got sick of boxing because of all the corruption, and while this is nowhere 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 quite certain other sites have produced quotes that are just as, if not more worthy of being placed in a LA Times story, so it’s an honor the author chose ours.