Sportsnet Writer, Joe Ferraro, weighs in on the future of Kimbo and Elite XC
Kimbo got caught, plain and simple. The right hand that dropped the Miami native did not appear powerful, yet is the type of punch that generally stuns fighters with a flash knockout. Often times it's not the hard punch that lands that KO's an athlete, it's the ones that they don't see or expect that cause the damage. Kimbo was too aggressive and will definitely learn from this mistake while realizing that it was not a lucky punch that gave him his first black eye. It was a deliberately thrown right jab that connected. How some people are referring to this as a lucky punch is beyond me. If one throws a punch, how can it be considered lucky?
EliteXC will most likely look to capitalize on a rematch between Slice and Petruzelli as it will generate a huge amount of interest from the mainstream crowd. I sincerely hope they can clean up Kimbo's lack of media savvy -- as well as Petruzelli's MySpace page, which is currently filled with pictures that he may now be regretting taking. The organization should seriously have a conversation with both fighters about cleaning up their act, especially Kimbo, considering he was not only late for the press fight conference, but simply walked out when he was done talking.
Kimbo should be made aware that professional athletes have an obligation to stay at the post-fight press conference for the full duration so reporters, journalists and bloggers can get the true account and get quotes for the millions of fans that rely on this information. If Chuck Liddell can face the music after losing to Rampage Jackson, Keith Jardine and Rashad Evans, then so should Kimbo. If Georges St. Pierre can sit and take questions after losing to Matt Serra, then so should Slice. EliteXC should inform his management that one-word answers or cliché responses to questions do not help the product they are trying to sell.
If he chooses not to conduct himself like a true professional athlete should, that's fine; it's his prerogative. But then ElitXC should concentrate on the fighters that have paid their dues and/or are willing to help build their brand so it can actually one day rival that of the UFC. Concentrate on the likes of Gina Carano, Jake Shields, the return of Eddie Alvarez and do whatever it takes to bring back K.J. Noons. Above all, if they have a working relationship with Affliction (and Golden Boy Promotions) then partner up and get some of their stars involved. They have access to enough talent, real talent, that they can properly build a solid organization of high-calibre MMA fighters. The time has come to build fighters who are at an elite level, not build those who are still months, maybe years, away from being true contenders.
They should also look internally and work with one another to keep a professional image when they are in view of cameras projecting their reactions to millions of viewers. During the Kimbo Slice dismantling at the hands of Petruzelli, EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw was seen yelling at the referee that Seth was punching to the back of Kimbo's head, an area deemed illegal under the unified rules of mixed martial arts. As a corporate executive, Shaw should have kept his emotions in check and not shown what many are considering obvious favouritism to Kimbo Slice. I for one can definitely respect being an emotional fan during a sporting event; but there is a line between being a fanatic and being an executive.
I've seen numerous promoters, from small-time to big-time, see their hard earned money and promotion of a fighter go down in one fight, but never have I seen any of them blast a referee in front of cameras and VIPs in the front row. I've seen Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta hold in their emotions on numerous occasions (especially during the Liddell / Evans bout) and I'm sure that behind closed doors, there are likely dozens of occasions where they wished the results had gone another way. But I cannot recall a time when they showed it in public. It's a conflict of interest, and considering Dana White wears his heart on his sleeve, he still has the ability to bite his lip and keep his reactions in check. Yes, the same guy who drops various four-letter words knows when to do it; he picks his spots.
EliteXC may or may not be around next year as they are currently in a huge financial mess. But with the right moves over the next few months, they may be able to position themselves as a true competitor in the UFC-dominated MMA market.
They have all the ingredients they need. The recipe to success has already been defined so there is no need to reinvent the wheel. If they follow the fight business model, they will succeed. If they deviate from the plan, then they will reap what they have sewn.
Good article, it's definitely true that EXC has all the tools to survive, and even thrive as a direct competitor to the UFC, they just need to stop shooting themselves in the foot and start acting professional, because the casual, uninformed fans that circus attracts definitely don't pay the bills.