(Just another day in the organization for Jared Shaw. Props: Steve Cofield.)
The Kimbo Slice fairy tale is over now. At least it ought to be. The “street certified” brawler got himself knocked out in fourteen seconds by a guy who calls himself a “part-time fighter.” A guy who isn’t in the same weight class and isn’t thought of as anything more than a mediocre also-ran in the weight class he normally calls home. To call this a worst case scenario for Elite XC is putting it too mildly. This is an absolute disaster. Which means, of course, that they will now try to convince us that it is not.
Announcer Mauro Ranallo got that ball rolling almost immediately after the fight by suggesting that this should be considered a “mulligan” for Kimbo, since he didn’t plan on fighting Petruzelli. Do we dare mention that Petruzelli also didn’t plan on fighting Kimbo, a heavyweight, in the main event? Apparently not. Instead we start playing up the predictable Rocky Balboa angle, forgetting for the moment that Rocky fought Apollo Creed, the world champion. Unlike Kimbo, the fictional Apollo was both style and substance, and he didn’t go down to a tentative jab.
This is the point where Elite XC makes excuses for Kimbo and tells us that a star is born in Petruzelli. Just watch Jared Shaw working from this script in his interview with Ariel Helwani and see if you don’t find yourself feeling a little sorry for him. His cringe-worthy performance includes transparent lies such as, “it’s just another day in the organization,” and “(Pertruzelli) is a very promotable guy; everybody in this sport is promotable,” and my personal favorite, “we’re gathering all our other nuts.”
This, from the same guy who could be seen having a total meltdown at cageside while Kimbo was getting pounded out on live network TV.
The person who seemed least bothered by last night’s events was Kimbo Slice himself. He hyped his after-party in the post-fight interview and showed up forty-five minutes late to the press conference, where he interrupted Elite XC Head of Operations Jeremy Lappen and made a very brief statement, laughing about his swollen eye, and then disappeared again.
Lappen came to his defense, saying,
“I think Kimbo’s a huge star. Again he’s been thrust onto the scene. People are interested in watching him. And I think people will continue to be interested in watching him. …He showed heart. And stepped up on an hour notice and backed up anyone, anyplace, anytime.”
It’s interesting that Lappen uses the passive voice there. Kimbo has “been thrust onto the scene.” That’s true. Lappen conveniently ignores who did the thrusting, though.
As for the “anyone, anytime” rhetoric, it flies in the face of rumors that Elite XC had to sweeten the financial pot just to get a reluctant Kimbo to accept the fight against the 205-pounder Petruzelli. The backstage CBS interview alone revealed a very unhappy fighter who exuded anything but confidence and enthusiasm before the fight.
Kimbo was exposed on Saturday night, sure. But he wasn’t exposed as anything other than what most of us already thought he was: an amateur fighter rushed into the spotlight by desperate, unscrupulous promoters. It was Elite XC who was truly exposed. They built their reputation on Kimbo’s curious brand of celebrity, and fate conspired to grind their cash cow into hamburger.
Their strategy was to only make fights that Kimbo could win, then shout his name from the rooftops when he did. Last night they got a lesson in the unpredictability of MMA. Now they’re left shouting excuses. They found out the hard way that you can only play the squash match shell game for so long before a former karate champ comes along and ruins it.
They can call it a mulligan for Kimbo and they can try and turn it into a big push for the very average Petruzelli. But the best thing they can do is learn from this catastrophe. Where they go from here, with respect to both Kimbo and Petruzelli, should tell us whether they have.