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Fox Sports: "Zach Arnold's Fight Opinion site is one of the best spots on the Web for thought-provoking MMA pieces."

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How about that good PR for Elite XC?

By Zach Arnold | October 8, 2008

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And if you thought this was bad, things continue to get worse the more Petruzelli and Lappen talk in the media. Read this and you’ll find out what the next controversy is going to be.

So why does this any of this matter?

As alluded to in the MMA Memories article, you better believe that some folks in Las Vegas are more than interested in finding out exactly what is going on. Gambling does take place on these fights, after all. We know that bribery, conspiracy to commit an act of bribery, and fixing a fight are felony criminal acts. One of the flimsiest excuses used by Petruzelli defenders online is that what he may or may have not admitted to was no different than what UFC does with bonuses awarded for best KO, best submission, fight of the night, etc. after each of their shows. Now, you have Petruzelli’s cover-up excuse claiming that he had a KO clause in his contract and that Elite XC offers a bonus structure like UFC does. Except, of course:

a) that’s not how UFC does their bonus structure in the first place (they award bonuses after each show)
b) Jeremy Lappen in an interview (linked above) with Josh Gross said that the company doesn’t give bonuses out for submissions but does for knockouts.
c) Benji Radach, who fought on the undercard, denies that there is a bonus structure like the one Petruzelli alluded to.

Let’s cut to the chase here. If I’m Keith Kizer and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, I am following this story very closely. Elite XC’s next big show is November 8th in Reno. Just because this scandal revolves around a show that took place in Florida doesn’t mean that Nevada shouldn’t have some possible cause for concern here. This whole matter stinks, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this whole scandal is little more than just bad PR. It should most definitely warrant an investigation. Whether anyone likes it or not, Elite XC is America’s second largest MMA organization and has a platform on CBS. If anything, it should create a higher level of scrutiny upon the actions of management in Elite XC.

Now, if people are legitimately outraged over this situation (and I think there are a few people who really do care about this), it pays to study recent history to see what tactics may or may not work.

a) Get bigger media outlets to focus on this story (Franklin McNeil of The Newark Star-Ledger could do a credible job covering this story). The issue of bribery and fight fixing is easy enough to explain to the casual sports fan. They get what it’s all about. Unlike the yakuza scandal (which I wish the mainstream media would have covered but didn’t), there’s really no excuse not to apply media pressure on Elite XC, CBS, Petruzelli, etc. This is not a manufactured, tinfoil hat conspiracy. (See the MMA Memories article as to why it isn’t.)

b) Get access into the shareholder’s meeting at CBS. (This is what ultimately brought down PRIDE because Fuji TV canceled PRIDE from the network before they had to deal with a 1,000 angry shareholders at a public meeting. It didn’t help PR-wise because shareholders flooded executives with questions over the yakuza scandal involving PRIDE and the Livedoor debacle. Putting pressure on CBS executives to defend the Petruzelli scandal could definitely make some of them sweat. Does Elite XC really have that much leverage in CBS to be able to fend off a challenge from angry shareholders?)

c) A lawsuit (the least likely tactic to be used, but the idea would be to somehow to try to get Petruzelli, Lappen, etc. under oath in a court room. In other words, a pipe dream.)

Topics: Affliction, Media, MMA, Pro Elite, Zach Arnold | 9 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

9 Responses to “How about that good PR for Elite XC?”

  1. Ivan Trembow says:

    As you alluded to, the latest lie that Seth Petruzelli has been caught in is that he said in the interview with Sam Caplan that there was a submission bonus in his fight against Kevin Ferguson that was equal to the knockout bonus.

    Then EliteXC\’s Jeremy Lappen slips up and says in a separate interview that EliteXC doesn\’t have submission bonuses. Oops.

    Seriously, if an investigation is not done that looks into this matter from all angles, then the guilt extends beyond just Petruzelli and whoever it is that, in Petruzelli\’s own words, \”kind of hinted\” to him that it would be worth his while financially to keep the fight standing.

    If this gets swept under the rug as some kind of misunderstanding, then the guilt extends a heck of a lot further.

  2. Mr.Roadblock says:

    Zach:

    Love your site. Been a big fan for a long time. But you’re really going out on a limb here to make a stink about this story when there isn’t all that much to it.

    Big deal Seth was offered a KO bonus and not a sub bonus. Elite XC wants KO’s, not grappling matches. That isn’t fight fixing. If the fight were going to be fixed Kimbo would have won. I see nothing wrong with offering him a bonus for a KO but not a sub. Seth has the free will to go out for a sub if he can get it and win for the bout agreement or he can go for a KO and the bonus money.

    I highly doubt Keith Kizer is going to get involved based on hearsay and innuendo. There is an assumption that just because Seth Petruzelli said something it is fact and he’s unflappable. He isn’t used to media coverage, he isn’t a public speaker or someone who has been thrust into the limelight before.

    I’m not a huge Elite XC fan, but I think this is a clear case of the media trying to manufacture a story.

    In this investigation everyone wants to do are you going to look at Ken Shamrock vs. Rich Franklin and Shamrock vs Ortiz II & III?

  3. Zach Arnold says:

    In this investigation everyone wants to do are you going to look at Ken Shamrock vs. Rich Franklin and Shamrock vs Ortiz II & III?

    Red herring argument because it has nothing to do with this current story.

    Here’s what has been reported so far:

    1) Petruzelli said promoters ‘kinda hinted’ to him that it would be worth his while to keep the Kimbo fight standing up.

    2) He then backtracked fast from these comments after Jeremy Lappen issued a denial.

    3) Dave Meltzer then said that he had heard about Petruzelli being asked to keep it up standing up (from sources outside of Petruzelli before Petruzelli made his statements in that Orlando radio interview)

    4) Bryan Alvarez then reported that he was told that Ken Shamrock was encouraged to keep the fight against Kimbo as a stand-up affair.

    5) Petruzelli backed off his radio comments (again), complaining that the media was twisting his words.

    6) Petruzelli, in another media defense, claimed that he got a bonus for the KO and that EXC offered contractual bonuses for KOs, submissions, etc.

    7) Lappen, in an SI interview, said that some fighter contracts in EXC have KO bonuses but not submission bonuses, etc. Notice that he said that only some fighters, not all, have these provisions in their contracts. Furthermore, think about this — having a KO only bonus for certain fighters but not a) submission bonuses or b) KO bonuses for everyone?

    How is this manufacturing a story? As alluded to in the MMA Memories article, we wouldn’t have a story if Petruzelli hadn’t opened up this can of worms in the first place. It does bring up an interesting comment from Fightlinker, which is the following — if Petruzelli hadn’t opened his mouth about this, would Dave Meltzer have gone public with his comments that he was told by sources that Petruzelli was encouraged to keep the fight against Kimbo standing up?

    There’s a lot of serious and legitimate questions that need to be asked and answered here.

  4. Ivan Trembow says:

    Mr. Roadblock— Ortiz-Shamrock II and III were essentially squash matches, although they made the UFC tens of millions of dollars and also helped secure the lucrative contract renewal of over $100 million with Spike TV. But nobody is saying that those fights were fixed. One fighter had at least a 95% chance of winning, but that’s a completely different subject that has nothing to do with fixing fights or paying fights not to attempt takedowns. As Zach said, there is no story here if Petruzelli doesn’t say what he said. It’s amazing how this scandal has been twisted into something that “the media” started. In fact, Petruzelli started it with his own statements.

    On an unrelated note, I really wish that Fight Opinion was accessible using the PlayStation 3 web browser. It always says “Forbidden” or “Unauthorized” whenever I try to access the site using the PS3 web browser.

  5. Mr.Roadblock says:

    It’s not fixing a fight to offer a bonus for the guys standing up. It’s still a legit fight. The other, industry leading, organization doesn’t let guys who can’t finish fights get title shots i.e. Karo and Machida. It’s a business. If you remember back to 2002-2005 when UFC ran every other month, if you didn’t have an exciting fight you didn’t come back.

    Petruzelli might not be a rocket scientist. I’ve seen a lot of cases of people thinking they were being funny or just being themselves and really coming off bad by what they said to the media.

    As for point 7, you don’t need bonuses for the undercard guys who won’t make TV on CBS. I’m sure everyone on this board is a “hardcore” MMA fan. We love all aspects of the game. Elite XC in order to survive needs to bring in a much larger audience than UFC. Elite needs in the neighborhood of 5 million people to watch on CBS for CBS to sell ads to pay for the show. UFC makes a fortune if 500,000 PPVs are ordered. Let’s be honest, jiu jitsu is not accessible/enticing for most people new to the sport. Elite wants KO’s and highlight kicks if possible I’m sure.

    Take a look at ESPN’s football coverage they show you brutal hits over and over again. They don’t show linemen stunting or pulling to open a hole for a running back.

  6. Zach Arnold says:

    Take a look at ESPN’s football coverage they show you brutal hits over and over again. They don’t show linemen stunting or pulling to open a hole for a running back.

    Is there a clause in NFL player contracts asking certain players to only play a certain style of football (man-to-man, zone) as opposed to giving it their best effort to do their job?

    If a sports bettor in Vegas knew that one football team in a game was only going to play the ‘Tampa 2’ D on every single play instead of mixing up their coverages, that certainly would effect how much money they bet on a team and on which team, wouldn’t it?

  7. Mr.Roadblock says:

    I was going to leave this out of my argument because I didn’t think it was completely relevant. But NFL games are manipulated. I don’t believe they are rigged to determine outcomes, but they are absolutely in my opinion manipulated by the refs. Take a look at the point spread each week then look at how many games are within 10 points of that going into the 4th quarter. Then look at the calls that lead up to that. Holding calls on long passes, blown replays, etc.

    I also think that you’re missing the point. No one is forcing Seth or anyone else to do anything. They are simply giving him a bonus if he fights a certain way. And that’s only from what we’ve all heard, who knows what the actual conversation was.

    If you’re gambling, you’re gambling. I don’t think Seth being made an offer that he could choose to either accept or not to accept affects gambling that badly. And I say that as a guy who legally gambles on MMA.

    The irony in all this is that Seth doesn’t even have a solid ground game.

  8. Asa says:

    Mr. Roadblock, any boxer can choose to accept or decline a bribe to influence a fight. Whether it’s laying off an up-and-comer for the first few rounds so bookies or promoters can make things look good or whether he doesn’t throw right hands because the new guy can’t handle them yet. It is still a crime and the offer, even when turned down, is often required to be reported to athletic commissions.

    Maybe its required because it endangers the health and safety of the fighter who takes the risk. “But that’s his own choice, no one’s forcing him!” Yeah no one’s forcing the guy with a mortgage and little rank in the sport to earn an extra incentive if he tries to stand with the guy who hasn’t been fighting as long or training as hard but ends-up making at least a mil a fight (endorsements etc). Just because you use ego and/or financial despair to commit a crime instead of a gun, doesn’t excuse you commiting the crime.

    On the other hand, maybe people are making a big deal because its trying to undermine the safety and long-term legitimacy of of an American industry.

    And haven’t we had enough of that bullshit for one decade?

    PS – people bitched their asses off about SHAMrock going down for Franklin, and still do. This shit smelled fishy from the get-go. When Ken fell to Rich, the sport was just beginning to go mainstream. If Shamrock had given us evidence in the form of a quote we’d have more than iffy footage to go on. But he didn’t. Seth did.

    PPS – While you’re right about Seth being iffy in front of the camera, due to experience, it generally works in the direction of people talking too much and being too revealing because they’re trying to connect with their audience. SEE: Most Gina Carano interviews where the reporter sees how uncomfortable she is and just lets her ramble on even after she’s answered the question a few times. It happens a lot in interviews.

  9. Joseph says:

    What a Sham, EliteXC is Rigged! How dare they disregard the Integrity of the sport!

    Signed,
    NFL, MLB, NBA, Boxing!

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