One of the most important MMA events for a promotion and the third EliteXC Saturday Night Fights broadcast on CBS took place last night and let’s just say the results were very newsworthy.
The show opened up with a HUGE announcement that the 44-year-old Ken Shamrock set to face Kimbo Slice, EliteXC’s posterboy in the main event, had been scratched hours before the fight was to take place! This is something that has rarely, if ever, happened before in any kind of fight production history whether it be boxing or MMA or even fucking WWE. I mean for a show’s main event fight to be scratched hours before the fight? Unheard of.
Obviously that left the brass at EliteXC scrambling to find a replacement for Kimbo because god forbid they’d have to scratch the show’s main draw in its critical broadcast. Not only was the event being held in Kimbo’s backyard, him fighting was what drew probably the entire audience into the Bank Atlantic Arena in Ft. Lauderdale.
A number of guys offered to step in including Frank Shamrock, Andrei Arlovski and Aaron Rosa. Instead EliteXC settled on Seth Petruzelli who was scheduled to fight Rosa in the show’s undercard. Petruzelli accepted the opportunity, essentially a free lottery ticket that all he had to do was cash to all of a sudden make a name for himself and boy, did he ever do that. And we’ll get to that in just a bit, but first lets take a look at the first four fights of the broadcast because there were some good things.
The show kicked off with a Middleweight fight between Murilo Rua and Benji Radach. The two came out slugging right out of the gates and the majority of it was done by Radach. “The Razor” looked extremely fast and powerful while hitting Rua with all kinds of different shots, rocking the Brazilian numerous times. He had “Ninja” on his heels but showing Nogueira like ability to overcome being lit up like a Christmas tree, At one point, both fighters were knocked out and collapsed to the mat on the same exchange. It was the first time I’ve ever seen that happen in a fight and the two got up and continued battling, just insane! Rua kept fighting despite being overwhelmed. He even was able to take the fight to the ground near the end of round one and had a couple attempts at heel locks that were unsuccessful. In round two Radach poured it on with a huge straight right that wobbled Ninja and then put him away eventually with strikes as Rua laid prone on the mat.
Gina Carano then followed up with an exciting fight of her own as she battered an already ugly mug doned by her opponent Kelly Kobold. Kobold was a tough customer though, and she went the distance with Carano before falling via unanimous decision (30-27 x 2, 29-28).
Next up was Andrei Arlovski who faced Roy Nelson in a heavyweight bout that was on lone from Affliction. Nelson came out and closed the distance, using his enormous belly to control Arlovski on the ground. It was an effective game plan but the problem is Arlovski is no joke on the ground and far too strong for Nelson. The round ended with Arlovski peppering the shit out of Nelson’s mug. The second round saw “the pitbull” pick up right where he left off, utilizing his excellent boxing skills to pound away at Nelson and knock him out. The win potentially sets up a mega-fight with WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emilianenko in early 2009. The two (Arlovski and Fedor) were constantly featured in Affliction commercials during the broadcast and it was a great job of Affliction at getting some publicity for their heavyweight champion and that potential showdown. The only thing I would question is it seemed like Affliction was more concerned with selling clothing rather than fights.
In the lone championship fight of the evening Jake Shields escaped with his title after being worked in the stand up game and being visibly tired in round two. But he was able to close the distance on Daly and using his considerable height advantage drag Daly to the ground where he immediately gained mount and secured an arm bar submission.
Bringing us to the main event and what a risk this was by EliteXC and Kimbo Slice. Pitting Kimbo against an unknown in Seth Petruzelli (at least to the mainstream) offered nothing to gain and everything to lose. Look, EliteXC had to realize that the television audience and the attendees weren’t going to be lost with Kimbo not fighting. The people had already paid for their tickets and everyone tuning in was there to watch four other fights as well. Having Kimbo — who had been training for 3+ months for a 44-year-old, washed up striker in Ken Shamrock — fight a fighter he’s never seen before, a lot younger than Shamrock and not to mention an experienced fighter was incredibly dangerous. It wasn’t just dangerous, it was a COLOSSAL mistake as it would soon turn out.
Petruzelli dropped Kimbo Slice with a short right hand five seconds into the fight and five seconds later, Petruzelli was running around the ring akin to Chuck Liddell after he knocked out Randy Couture.
The excuses started flowing immediately afterwards. Kimbo wasn’t prepared for this guy he knew nothing about., etc. and etc. Regardless of the reason, the result is in the books and EliteXC is left with egg on their faces. It was a stupid decision to put their promotion’s face in a VERY dangerous fight and they got exactly what they deserved because of it. Where do they go from here? What kind of damage control should EliteXC implement to stay alive? I will get into all of that in my next post.