Petruzelli in center of Elite XC storm
Seth Petruzelli, after going from nobody to national celebrity for punching out Kimbo Slice, went on the radio Monday. He delivered a shot potentially more powerful than anything he threw Saturday.
He said his original plan against Kimbo was to get him to the ground and exploit his weak wrestling skills and submission defense. It made more sense than trading punches with a street brawler who outweighed him by 30 pounds. Petruzelli said he changed his mind though.
“The promoters kind of hinted to me, and they gave me the money to stand and trade with him,” he told “The Monsters in Orlando” radio show. “They didn’t want me to take him down, let’s just put it that way. It was worth my while to try to stand up and punch with him.”
The quote spoke of an attempt to if not rig the fight, then make it favorable for Slice, the main star and cash cow of the EliteXC promotion.
Such an action would be a disaster for mixed martial arts as it attempts to convince mainstream audiences it isn’t scripted pro wrestling or a farcical Toughman contest. If EliteXC gave Petruzelli money to fight one way, it would open itself to all sorts of investigations.
The allegation rocketed around the country, making bigger post-fight news than pictures of Petruzelli in drag (more on that later. Needless to say, it’s been a wild couple of days for him).
EliteXC’s Jared Shaw immediately denied the fixing charge to Yahoo! Sports and fellow executive Jeremy Lappen did the same to Sherdog.com.
Tuesday, Petruzelli said he got the story confused.
“What that meant was they offer a knockout bonus, submission bonuses, fight of the night bonuses,” Petruzelli said in a phone interview. “I think it just got misconstrued. I wanted to have an exciting fight and I wanted the knock out bonus so I wanted to keep it standing.”
So did they say anything about keeping the fight off the ground?
“They just said, ‘we want to see an exciting fight no matter what happens.’ I took it as I wanted the knockout bonus.”
That explanation won’t appease some conspiracy theorists, if only because the original statement sounds more believable.
Then there is the general distrust of the organization, where the cards often seem more show than sport. Although the last two televised cards were mostly strong, memories remain of exploding cauliflower ears, silly introductions and using the popular but unproven Slice as a headliner.
Besides, it’s no secret Elite XC had a vested interest in Kimbo winning. Jared Shaw even charged the cage and screamed at the referee that Slice had been hit illegally. Shaw has since apologized for that reaction.
“He spent a lot of money to build up Kimbo,” Petruzelli said. “If I saw one of my guys I spent millions on getting his face pounded I’d get upset also.”
Then there’s CBS, which gave up any pretense of journalism in favor of unseemly propaganda.
The network previously embarrassed itself by comparing Kimbo to great sports figures such as Tiger Woods. This time, Gus Johnson’s declaration that Petruzelli’s triumph was “the most incredible victory in the history of mixed martial arts” was laughably ridiculous.
The worst was Johnson repeating the party line that Slice didn’t hesitate to switch opponents from an injured Ken Shamrock. That was simply a lie. Slice demanded a cash bonus on top of his $500,000 payout just to get in the cage with Petruzelli, according to Lappen.
“We made it up to him,” Lappen said.
For a stretch, the replacement wasn’t going to be Petruzelli but Frank Shamrock, Ken’s brother. Frank said Saturday he was even cleared by the Florida commission to fight. Lappen said he didn’t think that was true, although he did admit there were discussions with Frank.
CBS was certainly privy to that information since Frank was at the arena as its color commentator. It was never mentioned on the air though. Frank told Yahoo! Sports Saturday it was CBS officials who blocked him from taking on Slice.
When the broadcasts have no objectivity, perspective or news value and the promoters are openly rooting for one fighter and not the other, how can anyone believe anything these guys say or do?
For his part, Petruzelli said he wishes he hadn’t made the original comment. He swears no one from EliteXC has called him and pressured a retraction.
The entire thing has put a damper on his sudden surge of fame. That and the pictures on the internet of him in drag, of course.
“Man, people aren’t going to let those down, are they?” he said. “Everything in costumes was (for) Halloween. I always dress in crazy stuff. All the leather and that sort of stuff, it’s all done in fun.
“I want to put that to rest right now. I’m officially 100 percent not gay,” he said. “I’ve been happily married for two years and been with her for five years.”
He laughed at the entire speculation. He laughed at a lot of things Tuesday. And who can blame him? Last week he was a part-time fighter who was competing on the non-televised undercard for a four-figure payout. His main job was owner of a Smoothie King stand.
Now he’s an overnight celebrity after 4.59 million people watched him TKO Kimbo.
He just wishes he could do it again. He’s begging for a rematch and the big payout it would bring.
“But I don’t think he was receptive to that,” Petruzelli said. “Kimbo doesn’t want the rematch. He wants no part of that.”
He said that dropping Slice with a single short right despite leaning back on one foot was no fluke and he can do it again.
While Kimbo had a reputation for taking punches from his YouTube videos – he often let guys take free shots that didn’t faze him – Petruzelli said there’s a big difference between a professional fighter and those dudes.
“The thing is, they are arm-punching,” Petruzelli said. “It’s like little flicks with their arms. There’s no weight behind it, there’s no turning of the hips. It’s how you throw it and where you throw it.
“If we fight again, the same thing will happen.”
EliteXC should make it happen. Only this time demand its executives stay seated and its broadcast partner at least attempt professionalism.
Everyone could use the dose of credibility.