Sunrise, Fla. — The second-guessing regarding last night’s decision to substitute Seth Petruzelli in place of a medically disqualified Ken Shamrock in the main event of EliteXC and CBS’ “Saturday Night Fights” has already begun.
The main question being raised is why did Kimbo accept the fight considering there was little upside?
Well, I believe there was an upside for Team Kimbo and it was likely financial. While speaking with sources at the post-fight press conference for the event, they indicated to FiveOuncesOfPain.com that Slice received a “substantial” increase over the guarantee he was scheduled to make vs. Shamrock.
For a guy who used to fight unknowns in backyards for only a few thousand dollars, accepting a fight vs. Petruzelli probably made a lot more sense once EliteXC made him a financial offer he likely couldn’t refuse.
Sources indicated to Five Ounces of Pain that Kimbo’s camp initially refused to accept a bout vs. any opponent other than Shamrock before accepting the Petruzelli deal. Whether his management was legitimately concerned is uncertain, but you’d have to be a fool to say “Sure, we’ll take the fight” right off the bat and kill your negotiation leverage. Kimbo’s team got the best offer they could for their fighter.
You can look at it from a manager’s perspective and rationalize that it was a mistake because Kimbo didn’t prepare for Petruzelli and that Petruzelli wasn’t an established fighter, thus bringing little reward in exchange for assuming a high risk. From that perspective, it’s hard to argue to taking last night’s fight was a bad decision in hindsight. But that’s also a myopic viewpoint.
There’s another perspective to consider and that is the one of the fighter.
Kimbo is 34 with multiple children. Because of his late start in MMA, his shelf-life as a professional athlete is limited compared to others. He only has so long to make so much money. The goal is to garner big paydays and if EliteXC offered him a compensation package that he was already working towards, why not take it now as opposed to later?
Slice likely found himself in an all or nothing situation: either accept the higher offer or risk coming home with nothing. While I am sure EliteXC would have compensated him for his time to some extent, I seriously doubt that they would have paid him a full purse for not fighting.
It also be overlooked that Kimbo is also a fighter who has repeatedly stated that he’s never turned down a fight and that he’ll fight anyone, anywhere. When you talk the talk, you’re going to need to walk-the-walk.
Ego and pride also come into play. A manager’s job is to protect their fighter but there is a fine line that needs to be walked. If you tell your fighter not to take a fight on short notice because it’s too dangerous, you run the risk of your fighter feeling insulted because of a perception that you don’t believe in their ability.
And let’s be honest, Petruzelli is no world beater at this point. It’s not like he accepted a fight vs. a former Muay Thai champion or jiu-jitsu black belt. At this stage of the game, Slice should be taking on fighters of Petruzelli’s caliber. Granted, it’s better to have more notice so that you have proper time to prepare, but Petruzelli was also at the same disadvantage.
The fact that Kimbo was also fighting in his backyard cannot be overlooked. Many friends and family were in attendance and wanted to see him fight. There’s a chance he felt a sense of duty to go out there and put his best foot forward in light of the bad situation since another option had been presented to him.
Was last night’s decision the right call for Kimbo? It depends on what perspective you’re looking at if from.