Immediately following the post-fight press conference for EliteXC and CBS’ Saturday Night Fights this past weekend in Sunrise, Florida, I was able to catch up with EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw to discuss a number of pressing topics coming out of the fight card.
During the course of the interview, Shaw addressed his reaction towards referee Troy Waugh following the stoppage of the Kimbo Slice vs. Seth Petruzelli main event; the process in which a replacement was chosen and if canceling the event was ever under consideration; his feelings about Ken Shamrock being medically disqualified; and more.
Sam Caplan: At what point were you alerted that there might be a problem with the main event?
Jared Shaw: It’s tough for me to say. I got a call, I want to say, around 4:30 or 5:30, that there may be a problem. I ran down (to the arena) and found out that Shamrock had hurt himself. We had waited for him to come here because we didn’t know. Ken’s a gamer — a showman and a fighter — so we didn’t know. It could have been psychological warfare against Kimbo. He could think that we would tell him there’s no fight and then he would show up with no laceration. Or, how bad was it? Could we pull this fight off? We definitely wanted this fight to go.
We had a meeting with him when he arrived and we then right back with him to his dressing room. The commission looked at him and he had a laceration and they weren’t going to let the fight go. And that’s honestly where it stopped. He wanted to fight but his private doctor didn’t want him to fight. (The commission) said “no” and we had to make that move right away to figure out how we were going to save this event.
Sam Caplan: If Seth Petruzelli hadn’t taken the fight and if maybe Aaron Rosa hadn’t been a viable backup option, would the card had to have been canceled if there was no fight featuring Kimbo?
Jared Shaw: No, we would have went on with the card. We would have offered fans their money back and I’m not positive, but I believe we had even offered fans their money back because the opponent had changed. Not one fan wanted their money back, which shows you what a big sell Kimbo Slice is. But I think we did fine and it was a great card.
Sam Caplan: By getting medically disqualified, does that mean that Ken Shamrock didn’t make a single penny from the event?
Jared Shaw: He definitely didn’t make a penny. In fact, if there was any idea if there was any foul play involved, he might have lost money.
Sam Caplan: Did at any point did he grandstand in an attempt to get more money?
Jared Shaw: No, he never grandstanded. He wanted to fight. He came in there and he was defeated when (the commission) told him “no.” But for EliteXC, we’d like to believe in Ken and what happened but it’s just very eerie on the day of and again, the cut is real, there’s no doubt about it. The laceration was there. But none of us were there so it’s tough to say why he was sparring so hard the day of. I asked Tito Ortiz if fighters spar on the day of and he said he goes full that day, which surprised me. So maybe he didn’t completely hit his head, or maybe he did? I don’t speak to every fighter about their sparring practices the day of (a fight), I just know that boxers don’t. It’s interesting to me.
Sam Caplan: When Kimbo was approached about a replacement was their any apprehension on his camp’s part of were they all over the Petruzelli fight?
Jared Shaw: It wasn’t even a concern to anybody. His reaction was like, “I’ve got fans here, I’m not letting them down. We’ve got to do this. Let’s figure out how we can make this happen.” Obviously, there was a period of initial shock. You know, your fight isn’t happening and it’s not the same guy. We can show you a quick tape of Petruzelli, but what’s really out there on the YouTubes of the world?
To Kimbo’s credit, he took the fight. He didn’t have to take this fight. He could have sat back and chilled. He could have come back and fought Nov. 8 on SHOWTIME. There possibly could have been another opportunity but it wasn’t even discussed. It was never a discussion. He wasn’t going to let his fans down.
Sam Caplan: It appeared that after the fight was over that you were in the cage having a heated discussion with the head official. Were you happy with the stoppage?
Jared Shaw: I wasn’t necessarily angry, I just want to have the right decisions at all times. From my vantage point it looked like the second punch was to the back of the head, which is a foul. That could hit a fighter’s equilibrium and mess them up. And you turn him over and you punch him a couple of times and the ref stops it because there’s no recovery time after that. So I just asked the ref to please look at the video. I asked Thomas Milloy to please look at the video. And Kimbo’s camp will take their own look at the video. I can’t file a protest myself but I think his camp will look at it and decide on their own. I just wanted to make sure the ref saw it from the proper vantage point because I want to make sure we have the right calls at all times.
Sam Caplan: When you saw the replay on the screen, did you still feel the second punch was a foul?
Jared Shaw: I think Seth Petruzelli definitely had a nice, clean first punch but… Look, I don’t say refs make the wrong calls because the hardest job in the business is that of the referee. He’s got to make that stoppage. He’s got to decide when to break fighters up. And none of us know because none of are in there – unless some of us have reffed – but you don’t know what you’re seeing and how quick you’re seeing it. So I never go against a referee’s decision but sometimes decisions are rendered and they might not be the correct call. Not that it’s going to get overturned but maybe it’s more reason to see a rematch. I don’t know. I saw something and I pointed it out. I saw it again and I still feel what I saw is the same thing but it’s not up to me.
Sam Caplan: Where does Seth Petruzelli go from here? He’s competed as a heavyweight and he’s competed as a light heavyweight. What do you see as his weight class from this point forward?
Jared Shaw: That’s very interesting. We’ve got to sit down and talk with Seth because he’s fought as a heavyweight before moving down to light heavyweight. He had some tough fights in another organization against some of the best fighters in the world. He was going to come back as a light heavyweight against Aaron Rosa but took a shot against a big-time heavyweight and gave up a lot of weight. He obviously showed he’s got heavyweight hands; that’s what he showed more than anything. Kimbo Slice is a guy who has been hit bare knuckles many times but has never been dropped from a jab in the way he dropped off of that. To me, Petruzelli has got heavy hands. He could move to light heavyweight and fight (Rafael Feijao) Cavalcante. There’s another…
Sam Caplan: (Interrupts) I was going to ask you about that. How about Nov. 8? Is that possible?
Jared Shaw: Definitely not possible. Way too soon. A guy like that deserves a nice rest. He took a big step up today. He’s going to be a star in this sport. People keep asking me if I’m depressed or if this is a tough day for me? This is a great day for EliteXC. We have more stars now. To me, I watch this and you can tell me if I’m wrong but I felt like every loser was a winner tonight. From Ninja Rua, who even though he was knocked out cold, still gave us the most exciting Ninja we’ve watched; to Kelly Kobold, who is an absolute warrior with a sponge for a mouth; to Yoko Takahashi who has no quit in her; Roy Nelson was winning that fight, possibly, even, and then got caught. I’m sure he wants another opportunity. For me, it was a win for EliteXC and it was a win for mixed martial arts. Kimbo Slice is still a star like I told you and Seth Petruzelli is now a star. I’m really excited for the future.
Sam Caplan: Is it safe to assume that Petruzelli is already under a long-term contract with EliteXC?
Jared Shaw: Yes, Seth is under a long-term contract. We’ll talk to him about what the future brings. Seth Petruzelli has got some big fights under his belt, I’ll tell you that much.