Did Kimbo Slice scandal clinch Elite XC's downfall?
Elite XC's move toward a bankruptcy filing was set in motion Oct. 4 when injured Ken Shamrock pulled out of his scheduled main event with Kimbo Slice hours before the fight, an executive consultant told The Times today.
Promoters, still hopeful then that Showtime Networks would rescue the company with a much-needed investment, scrambled to fill the void by choosing former Ultimate Fighting Championship member Seth Petruzelli over young prospect Aaron Rosa.
Executive consultant T. Jay Thompson said he immediately viewed that decision by Elite XC head of fight operations Jeremy Lappen as a mistake, “because if you do have a worse-case scenario, do you want Slice to have lost to a guy the UFC flung aside [Petruzelli], or this top student and rising star [Rosa]?”
Petruzelli not only won by knockout in 14 seconds, he provoked an investigation by boxing officials in Florida by telling a radio station that Elite XC promoters paid him extra to keep the fight in stand-up mode, which would play to Slice’s strength as a street fighter who had gained legions of fans in fights replayed on YouTube.
Thompson was cageside that night and said he was told by two Elite XC executives before the fight: “Don’t worry, the fight will be on its feet.”
Thompson said he was so troubled by the apparent manipulation that he urged an associate, Joey Oddessa, who consults numerous offshore sports gambling operations, to take the fight off the board. Oddessa said that he didn’t, but instead directed the odds to be set twice as high as the opening line in Las Vegas, making Slice a 6-to-1 favorite.
UFC President Dana White has described the stand-up direction to Petruzelli as "criminal."
Beyond that, Thompson said, “Why set it up for Kimbo to lose in the worst possible way [standing up], hurting his stock so much more than if he was beaten on the ground? The casual fan would forgive Kimbo losing by submission.”
Instead, Slice was deemed as "exposed" by many devout MMA fans, Showtime rejected the idea of investing in Elite XC, and the organization's parent company has announced it has ceased staging future shows.
The Times will have a complete story on Elite XC's demise posted later tonight, and in Wednesday's newspaper.
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: MMA heavyweight Kimbo Slice is shown during a September workout in Los Angeles. Credit: Robert Laberge / Getty Images