Less than 24 hours after Seth Petruzelli pulled off the biggest upset in EliteXC history by knocking out Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson in 14 seconds at “EliteXC: Heat,” he stated that EliteXC promoters, including Vice President Jared Shaw, offered the last-minute replacement an additional bonus if he kept the fight standing against Kimbo, and not attempt to take Kimbo to the ground. EliteXC brass vehemently denied these allegations.
“The promoters kind of hinted to me, and they gave me the money to stand and trade with him. They didn’t want me to take him down, let’s just put it that way,” Petruzelli stated on the “Monters in the Morning Show” on 104.1 FM in Orlando, Florida.
Petruzelli’s statement sent shockwaves throughout the MMA community, and EliteXC was quick to dispel Petruzelli’s interpretation of what was told to him prior to his fight with the company’s poster boy.
“Absolutely not,” Shaw told MMAWeekly.com about the allegations. “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.”
There are plenty of reasons to believe that Pertuzelli’s interpretation of what transpired in his locker room prior to his fight with Kimbo are correct:
First of all, Kimbo is clearly EliteXC’s biggest draw, and everyone knows that since day one, they have gone out of their way to protect their investment. Kimbo’s three previous opponents had either not faced any elite MMA competition prior to fighting him, or were past the prime of their careers, including Kimbo’s original opponent for the night Ken Shamrock.
Secondly, EliteXC has lost nearly $60 Million since their inception just two years ago, and the CBS network deal is by far their best asset. EliteXC is the only MMA promotion to have a deal with a major television network, including the industry leading UFC. However, their second CBS promotion in July was a ratings disaster, and if they would have followed that up with a second consecutive one, that could have signaled the beginning of the end for EliteXC’s partnership with CBS.
Lastly, EliteXC was desperate to find a replacement for Shamrock, but one that would not jeopardize their meal ticket, Kimbo. They needed to find an “adequate” last minute replacement to make sure that Kimbo would success, thus EliteXC would as well.
By offering Petruzelli a “bonus” for keeping the fight standing, it would play right into Kimbo’s hands. Even though he got word of a new opponent just hours before the fight, a stand up brawl would take Kimbo back to his street fighting days, one in which he is very comfortable, and what provided him the opportunity to perform on this stage. It would be a winning situation for all, including Petruzelli.
As released by the Florida State Athletic commission and reported on 5thRound.com yesterday, Petruzelli was paid $50,000 for his win over Kimbo, which included a $15,000 win bonus. However, during his appearance on 104.1 FM yesterday, he said he was paid in the “six-figure range.”
On a side note, it is common practice for fighters to be paid additional compensation that is not reported through the States’ Athletic Commission. However, those types of bonuses (ie. percentages of Pay-Per-View buys and ticket sales) are usually rewarded to organizations’ biggest draws, not for a last-minute replacement that was initially slated to be competing on a non-televised preliminary bout.
Later on in the day Monday, it seems as though EliteXC brass got a hold of Petruzelli after his radio interview, perhaps having yet another talk with the fighter, as he later had a slightly different story to tell Sam Caplan of FiveOuncesofPain.com.
“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,” Petruzelli told the MMA website. “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.”
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