I'll say one thing, Seth Petruzelli sure knows how to show his appreciation for getting the chance to fight in the main event on network television.
After dropping EliteXC main attraction Kimbo Slice in just fourteen seconds at Saturday Night Fights on October 4, "The Silverback" went on Orlando's Real Radio 104.1 and claimed EliteXC officials instructed him on how to approach the fight, with a financial benefit for keeping the fight standing.
"My original plan was to throw out push kicks, have him think that I’m gonna throw them more, and then to shoot in on him, obviously. But 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 try to stand up and punch with him."
Those comments caused an uproar in the fight community as fans cried foul over the possibility of EliteXC tampering with fights to protect top draw Kimbo Slice. Enough of an uproar to prompt Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to open a preliminary investigation into the matter according to ESPN.com.
Unfortunately for EliteXC, then memories of Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson back on May 31 are still fresh in the minds of a lot of fans, where some very questionable officiating, scoring and promoter antics saw Slice win in controversial fashion.
Still, the investigation may be nothing more than a formality. Jennifer Meale, Communications Director for the DBPR is already downplaying their involvement:
"While the Department of Business and Professional Regulation doesn't have any reason to believe there was a problem with the Slice-Petruzelli fight, given the interest in it, the Department has begun a preliminary investigation to thoroughly review the circumstances of the fight."
Jeremy Lappen, Chief of Fight Operations for EliteXC, doesn't seem too concerned about the investigation, despite the damage an accusation like this carries in the court of public opinion. Not just to EliteXC, but to the credibility of mixed martial arts worldwide.
"We were not trying to protect Kimbo. He had been training to fight a guy in Shamrock who has a better ground game than Seth. If we were trying to protect Kimbo we would have sent him home. We put him in a dangerous fight."
Petruzelli has since recanted his position and claims that his original statement was misconstrued. Still, whether the investigation finds something of merit or just simply goes away, EliteXC once again walks away with an air of distrust.
Not exactly the best way to save what some insiders are calling a sinking ship.