By Zach Arnold | October 8, 2008
A few hours ago, I wrote this post reviewing the possible options of attack for MMA fans and writers if they wanted to further pursue the Seth Petruzelli/Kimbo Slice “stand-up” media scandal that is unfolding before our eyes. The most viable option of attack was to encourage the mainstream media (the broadsheets, TV networks) to pick up the story and run with it. We’ve already seen Jim Rome on ESPN give his two cents.
Now, business is really starting to pick up.
First, Dan Duggan in The Boston Herald talks about Petruzelli’s controversial radio comments from a few days ago in Orlando. Duggan’s media angle here? Getting comments from Dana White, which a sure-fire way to build up more steam for this story.
“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.”
Second, Lance Pugmire in The Los Angeles Times has an article about Petruzelli’s Orlando radio comments and further elaborates on how damaging the Kimbo Slice loss is to Elite XC. Congratuations to Steve Barry of MMA Convert for getting quoted in the article. Note that Pugmire’s story is not only online but also in the print edition of the Times paper today.
The LA Times article is even more damaging because it has quotes from Gary Shaw about encouraging MMA fighters to stand-up for fights.
“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.”
One quote I want to address in the LA Times article is this one:
“Press reports that Elite XC suggested or paid money to . . . Petruzelli to keep his fight against Kimbo Slice off the ground are false. . . .
Look. This scandal never would have happened if it wasn’t for Petruzelli himself saying what he did. The MMA media hasn’t ‘twisted his words’ one bit. Why? There’s been no need to twist any words. Petruzelli’s comments were made during a radio interview. The audio clips from that interview are easy to access online and accurate transcriptions of those comments are also available for anyone to access online. The Internet can be a very unforgiving place, especially when it comes to attempts to re-write history.
To have two big articles on this scandal in two major media markets (LA & Boston) is real bad. To have the comments that Gary Shaw made in the LA Times is devastating in terms of credibility.
Yesterday, I said that the media should have covered the PRIDE yakuza scandal more seriously than they did (coverage barely existed in the States). That scandal negatively impacted the business in a big way. Hopefully, everyone in the media, in the MMA industry, and those who work at state athletic commissions starts investigating the ’stand-up’ fighting scandal.
Make no mistake about it — if Dana White wants to use his clout to push this story further in American media circles, he can. Would UFC benefit from this? Yes. However, so would the industry as a whole. Everyone has a vested interest in keeping as much corruption out of this business as possible. If you don’t think UFC management has a vested interest in seeing things stay as clean as possible, then you don’t understand what’s at stake here.
As for Kimbo Slice, Dan Henderson of all people is bullish on him making a comeback in the MMA business.
One other angle to focus on…
Think about what Gary Shaw is quoted as saying in the LA Times article as compared to what Shaw’s son, Jared, said to MMA Weekly a couple of days ago. Go through the money quotes:
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.”
“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.”
Now, focus in on comments Jeremy Lappen made in a brand new company statement:
“Seth Petruzelli was offered a fee to fight Kimbo Slice, plus a knockout bonus, a common practice throughout the industry. EliteXC 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.”
Really? You should have told Gary Shaw this before he spoke to reporters at The LA Times on the record. Gary Shaw, a man who’s still a consultant for Elite XC. Gary Shaw, the man who built Elite XC based on his personal fighting & matchmaking philosophies. Gary Shaw, the man who built Elite XC around Kimbo Slice & Gina Carano as his main attractions. Gary Shaw, a man who told the LA Times that asking fighters to keep things ’standing’ is not unethical.
One thing is very clear here — this has been a terrible PR disaster for Elite XC. If Dana White chooses to make this a bigger issue, it will be more than just a PR nightmare for Elite XC management.
- How about that good PR for Elite XC?
- We want real answers, not fanboy interviewing questions
- Report: Ken Shamrock was going to be ‘paid to stand with him as well’
- The PR spin on the Seth Petruzelli/Kimbo Slice situation
- Can Elite XC management be prosecuted for this?