Fix rumor riles UFC boss
Thursday, October 9, 2008 -
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Since taking over as UFC president in 2001, Dana White has made it his mission to establish mixed martial arts as a legitimate professional sport.
With MMA’s popularity at its peak, there is no denying that White has been successful, but a controversy in a rival organization has him fearing that years of work could be going down the drain.
The dirtiest word in the fight game is “fix,” and that’s exactly what is being used by some to describe the circumstances leading up to the Kimbo Slice-Seth Petruzelli fight at the Elite XC show that aired on CBS Saturday night.
Petruzelli, a part-time fighter, beat Slice, the top attraction of the new promotion, on a TKO 14 seconds into the fight. While Petruzelli’s win was an upset, the real shocker didn’t come until Monday when he told a Florida radio station, “The promoters kind of hinted to me, and they gave me the money to stand and trade with him. They didn’t want me to take him down. Let’s just put it that way. It was worth my while to stand up and try to punch him.”
The next day Petruzelli retracted his comments, saying he was referring to a bonus he could receive for knocking out Slice. But that didn’t wash with conspiracy theorists, as there was still the implication that promoters wanted the fight to stay off the mat, where Slice, a former backyard brawler, is less experienced.
In an exclusive interview with the Herald on Wednesday, White discussed how damaging a fix could be for the sport.
“It disgusts me,” White said. “I’ve been busting my (expletive) for 10 years flying all over the planet to show everybody what a great sport this is and what amazing people are involved in it. Then CBS throws this guy who fights at people’s barbecues on the main event because they’re trying to compete with us, and he gets knocked out in (14) seconds by a guy who didn’t win ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and couldn’t fight in the UFC. Then the guy turns around the next day and says, ‘The promoters actually paid me to not go to the ground with this guy. They paid me to stand up,’ which I’m pretty sure is illegal.”
Slice was originally scheduled to fight Ken Shamrock, but the MMA veteran withdrew after suffering a cut above his eye during last-minute training. Despite giving up 30 pounds, Petruzelli stepped up from the undercard to fight Slice.
White never minces words when it comes to Slice or the Elite XC, and he isn’t surprised the organization found itself in such a mess.
“(Slice is) a joke,” White said. “It was bound to happen. These guys have lost $60 million trying to get this thing off the ground. They’re building their promotion around a guy who can’t fight. It’s kind of (expletive) stupid, isn’t it? You’re in the fight business and you’re building your business around a guy who can’t fight.”
Elite XC vice president Jared Shaw told mmaweekly.com that any allegations of a fix were untrue, but as far as White is concerned, the damage has been done.
“It put a nail in my coffin, too,” White said. “When dirty people go out and do stuff like that, it hurts. Promoters have a bad rap as it is because of the last 100 years of boxing. We actually started to turn that around and were doing the right things and then you have these guys coming out and doing (expletive) like that. It hurts us.”
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