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The Elite XC PR disaster continues, even with the wrong focus on the scandal

By Zach Arnold | October 9, 2008

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As we have focused on this past week, the hot issue regrading the Seth Petruzelli/Kimbo Slice fight has been the ’stand-up’ controversy. All of this, mind you, was started by Petruzelli’s own radio comments in an Orlando radio interview. It’s bad enough that there is a dark cloud hovering over this fight in regards to whether or not a fighter may or may have not been told to ‘keep things standing-up’.

However, a more interesting phenomena has been developing in the general sports world. There has been consternation about the Kimbo/Petruzell fight being ‘fixed’, but for much different reasons — and ESPN’s Michael Wilbon ripped into Elite XC this afternoon on TV. The charge? That the Kimbo/Petruzelli fight was fixed because Kimbo really wasn’t hurt from Petruzelli’s short jab and that Kimbo supposedly must have taken a dive in the fight. (Audio here of Wilbon’s accusation — time mark starting at 6 min, 30 secs.)

Let us be perfectly clear — we are not on the bandwagon in regards to the mantra of Kimbo Slice “taking a dive.” Not the case here, at least in our estimation based on the facts at hand and from past quotes involving the parties at hand. I do believe that discussion of the Kimbo/Petruzelli fight being ‘fixed’ because of this theory that Kimbo took a dive is actually very harmful to the much more specific charges that have been leveled against Elite XC, which is that certain fighters are encouraged to keep fights ’standing-up’.

Clearly, in my judgment, there is a scandal brewing here — but it’s not the one that media types like Michael Wilbon are focusing on. Instead, they’re choosing to attack Elite XC from the wrong angle here.

With all of the following above said, let’s address the negative impact that Wilbon’s comments will have on Elite XC and MMA in general. Plenty of mainstream, casual fans watch Pardon the Interruption. Likely, so do a lot of the suits in CBS Sports. In the time span of four days, we’ve gone from Gus Johnson calling Seth Petruzelli’s win over Kimbo Slice as “the biggest upset in the history of Mixed Martial Arts”, to Petruzelli claiming that promoters kinda hinted to him that they wanted him to keep things standing up, to a flurry of conflicting public statements involving Petruzelli and Elite XC management, to Jim Rome and other mainstream media outlets quoting Dana White on why this scandal is bad for the MMA business, to Gary Shaw admitting in the LA Times that he doesn’t find asking MMA fighters to ’stand-up’ as being unethical, to now Michael Wilbon calling the fight a fix — but for different reasons than anyone could have imagined in MMA media circles.

How anyone could possibly think that this scandal has not been damaging to Elite XC and/or MMA is beyond me. The wildcard in all of this is how or where the media takes this next. If the media takes their cues from people like Dana White, then it’s clear that this scandal will have a sharpened focus on Elite XC and what their role is in the MMA business. If the media takes their cues from no one and decides to basically tar-and-feather the entire industry on the accusation of Kimbo/Petruzelli being ‘fixed’ (but for the wrong reasons), then who knows how much damage will be created here. It’s starting to look more and more like it is going to be in UFC’s best interest to address this topic specifically in the media and put the focus on where it should be — not only to correct media writers and personalities, but to also protect the company image that UFC has been spending years building up with the general public.

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Topics: MMA, Media, Pro Elite | 5 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

5 Responses to “The Elite XC PR disaster continues, even with the wrong focus on the scandal”

  1. ChairibOfJustice says:

    You know MMA will get through this, the sport survived Doug Dedge’s death, the cable ban, as well as McCain’s attacks. No doubt it pisses me off but this will pass.

    And simply put, it’s not damaging because there are some real problems going on right now that people are focusing on.

  2. Zach Arnold says:

    And simply put, it’s not damaging because there are some real problems going on right now that people are focusing on.

    No one is suggesting this scandal is going to kill the business. However, to suggest that this situation won’t damage the business on some level… that I take objection to.

    What has been amazing about this is that Elite XC management and Seth Petruzelli brought this upon itself with their own statements.

  3. ChairibOfJustice says:

    I wasn’t implying that the sport was going to die, I was merely pointing out that MMA has had some serious tragedies, events, and people to run up against it.

    Any one of those things should have killed the sport off a long time ago but it didn’t. The Kimbo Slice controversy won’t damage it either, people have very short memories and the “talking heads” will find something else to talk about.

    What I find so objectionable is the lazy thinking that Wilbon displayed. He was biased with an agenda already going into the discussion.

    So it wasn’t just he thought Kimbo was a fake for taking a dive, he also held the view that Elite XC is a sham by proping up Kimbo with a can like Seth.

    How do you win with reasoning like that?

    By the way Wilbon and Lebetard both state that Kimbo was KO’d by one punch and that simply wasn’t the case, kind of makes you wonder if actually even saw the fight.

  4. Asa says:

    The unfortunate twist is that two weeks ago I figured that we’d be having this debate about Ken taking a dive.

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