Welcome back to another edition of The Duel. Joining me this week is nokaut.com editor and all around wonderful man, Randy Harrison. On the other side is 5 Oz. editor, contributing writer and blatant homosexual, Mr. Adam Morgan. Let us Duel:
1. Kimbo Slice’s defeat means doom for the EXC brand.
Harrison: FALSE. I wouldn’t go so far as to say DOOM, but it’s certainly a fairly crippling blow to the eyes of mainstream fans when the guy you’ve built into an unbeatable monster ends up getting taken out by a replacement fighter in less time than it takes to correctly spell Petruzelli. There are a lot more problems for EliteXC than just Slice losing. There’s the loss of face from promoting a main event that didn’t happen (whether it’s their fault or not, perception will be that they dropped the ball), and the inability of the company to be able to promote and make new stars outside of Gina Carano and Slice despite having talented fighters on their roster. They’ve mismanaged the brand pretty horribly since the beginning of the CBS deal and it’s rather telling when more of the people I’ve talked to after the show were talking about the Affliction ads throughout the show more than anything on the show except the Slice upset. That’s the kind of marketing they should have been doing themselves from the beginning but they’ve just never gotten it. While Slice’s defeat may possibly be the first in many death blows to the company, I won’t go so far as to say it’s the only one because there have been problems in EliteXC forever (the Slice/Thompson fight, the KJ Noons debacle, Gina’s constant missing weight, the shady beginnings of the company with Gary Shaw) and the problems in combination are what will eventually doom them.
Morgan: FALSE. It’s hard to disagree with Randy here in regards to the damage that’s been done with Kimbo’s loss. It’s a huge blow to the company because their star has now been “exposed” to a degree by a UFC washout. But it’s not the end of the world. EliteXC has some good fighters and they still have Gina Carano, who I believe can carry a card by herself without Kimbo Slice. Not only does she have the look but she’s also very good. EliteXC can put the brand on her back, bring women’s MMA to the forefront and provide other good fights as a backdrop. The real saving grace here is the last minute partnership with Affliction. Affliction has real stars, top level fighters, and a willingness to work with EliteXC. Without that partnership EliteXC is dead in the water. The only way anyone is going to compete with the UFC is if they co-promote. These two brands have done it once with Arlovski and Nelson and they desperately need to continue to do it to have any chance of competing.
My Five Cents: It’s probably true. Ratings might be good but CBS, like all networks, doesn’t give a damn about the product they just want the numbers. These are the same people that figured Lawler vs. Smith would get ratings. Kimbo losing is an embarrassment and probably a death blow to the company.
2. Though Slice should be commended for taking the fight and not disappointing the fans.
Harrison: TRUE. I will give him props for that. He took a fight against a fighter who was much more dangerous than Ken Shamrock was and took his loss like a man. I can’t say the same for his camp or his fans, who were apparently hurling death threats at Petruzelli and making him fear for his safety in the cage. It would have been easy for Slice to take his ball and go home, or to hold the company up for a ton of money because he was in the position of power and the man people wanted to see. He didn’t, he fought, and he lost, which says a lot about his “anytime, anyone, anywhere” thing being atleast mostly true. If the reaction to the change in main event from the live crowd seemed a little harsh (lots of booing when the announcement was made), imagine what the reaction would have been like if they had announced the main event was cancelled. It’s funny to think that in the course of three hours, Slice may have saved the company from ruin by taking the fight and possibly put them a lot closer to the end by losing it.
Morgan: TRUE. I would argue with Randy on this one but I can’t go the other way because I have been saying this since the fight ended. You have to give it to Kimbo for even taking the fight. The people came to see him, they paid money to see hi, and he gave them what they wanted even if it didn’t turn out the way he’d like. He could have packed his bags and went home. Instead he took the fight on short notice and provided a main event for the evening. Now, is it sort of suspect that he and his camp demanded more money to fight Petruzelli? Sure, but who cares? Milk it for all it’s worth. There’s only so much time a 34 year old beginner has in this sport. Get in where you fit in and make your ends. Dap to Kimbo for making the fight go off for sure.
My Five Cents: Points to both for the pathetic Kimbo Slice entourage and Morgan’s rap-like final comments. Has anyone answered the age old question about why Kimbo’s entourage thinks they can fight? It’s like Madonna’s backup dancers thinking they can sing, it’s cute but you are where you are for a reason.
3. The third time will be the charm as Rampage Jackson will defeat Wanderlei Silva.
Harrison: FALSE. As much as I think that Rampage will be the favorite in this one, considering all of the mitigating factors, I think that it’s very likely that Wanderlei will be able to make it three-for-three against Jackson. Sometimes fighters will just have their opponent’s number. Jackson should know this better than anyone else because he had Chuck Liddell figured out well before the rest of the MMA world did. Silva just seems to be the type of fighter that is tailor-made to beat Jackson and this was even before Wanderlei decimated Keith Jardine in May and before Rampage’s loss and subsequent legal problems. Silva looks like he’s found the Silva of old and Jackson is on some pretty shaky ground with a big loss in the cage, the loss of his trainer and longtime friend and the betrayal that situation entailed, his arrest and court dates (which are still pending), training with a new fight camp, etc. etc. I really think that this is adding up to a fight where Jackson will put up a huge effort because he wants to erase everything that has happened in the past but that he’s going to come up just a little bit short to a seemingly revitalized Silva. This one might be a bit more competitive than their first two fights considering how much Jackson has grown in terms of his confidence as a fighter since those PRIDE bouts, but I still think that Silva is going to run the table.
Morgan: TRUE. Finally I get to disagree. All legal issues aside, Rampage has evolved tremendously as a fighter since his last fight against Wanderlei Silva. It’s not even close. Wanderlei is a great fighter but he’s no longer the guy that dominated PRIDE’s middleweight division for years. There has been a changing of the guard in this sport. Wanderlei Silva, in my opinion, will never compete for the UFC’s 205lb. crown. Not only has Jackson competed for it but he’s captured it and defended it. And he didn’t do those things against scrubs either. He KO’d Chuck Liddell and outlasted Dan Henderson in a five round war. Those are two guys that Silva has recently lost to. There’s no fight in the world that Jackson wants more than a chance at redemption against Silva. He is the better fighter at this point in the two mens’ careers, there is no doubt in my mind about that.
My Five Cents: There is nothing I like more than reading arguments and being swayed back and forth, well played. I will let the commenters determine who is correct.
—-SWITCH IT UP—-
4. Jared Shaw and Jeremy Lappen act incredibly irresponsible basically rooting at cage side.
Morgan: TRUE. There’s no doubt in the world that Jared Shaw, at the very least, acts irresponsible when he’s at cageside watching Kimbo fight. I don’t know about Lappen but Shaw has been unprofessional in the past and I’m sure he’ll continue to do so as long as he’s with the company. At EliteXC’s first CBS event when Kimbo fought James Thompson he was the first person in the ring congratulating Kimbo, practically laying on top of him and screaming in his face after the fight was over. He claims this time that he wasn’t cheering but that he was arguing a strike to the back of the head. Yeah right, Skala. We see through that facade. Just go back and look at the replay and tell me he’s not visibly shaken by the fact that Slice lost. You don’t see Dana White at cageside rooting for his favorite fighter. Well, unless it’s someone who’s fighting against Tito Ortiz. ProElite, as a company, is about as unprofessional as they come. To even have Jared Shaw as the face of the brand is embarrassing. The fact that they haven’t yet recognized this speaks volumes about where the company’s headed.
Harrison: FALSE. Since this question includes Jeremy Lappen, I’m forced to say false, even though I think that there is indeed incredibly irresponsible behavior going on at cageside at every EliteXC event, the Kimbo events especially. Every time I’ve seen Lappen, either on television or in person, he seems like he’s fairly level-headed when it comes to the fighting aspect of things. With all of this stuff going on with the main event from “Heat,” he looks a little two-faced in some of his statements, but he’s not an outright cheerleader. Jared Shaw, on the other hand, was so incredibly off the charts during that main event that I couldn’t even believe my eyes. I’ve never understood how Jared Shaw has essentially lucked into being the top man in the company, but my guess would probably be that it was through the family connections with Big Daddy Gary starting the deal up. His cheerleading during Kimbo’s fights and his shouting at officials during the bouts are ongoing is just asking for more trouble as it tends to look kind of bad when the guy in charge is screaming at officials who are chosen by the State Athletic Commissions to call bouts in a certain manner or to make certain calls. The last thing this company needs right now is more trouble.
My Five Cents: I had to be an idiot and add Lappen’s name didn’t I? At the very least we can all agree that Jared Shaw is pathetic and he’s setting the sport back five years at the very minimum.
5. You believe Seth Petruzelli was offered more money by management to keep the fight with Kimbo standing.
Morgan: FALSE. Kind of. I believe it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that Petruzelli was offered more money to keep the fight standing but I also think Petruzelli could have misspoke. Do I believe that there was some sort of enticement for a knockout bonus or to make the fight exciting? Sure. Do I believe that Petruzelli was bribed straight up? I have to doubt that.
Harrison: TRUE. As much as it really pains me to say it, when you shake the Magic 8 Ball on this one all signs are seemingly pointing to Yes. Petruzelli made the statement, probably not realizing that it was going to get as much play as it did, and then he retracted it once the hailstorm began. Earlier this week there were rumblings that Ken Shamrock had been made a similar offer and while there hasn’t been a confirmation of that allegation, there hasn’t been much of a denial either. When that is added to the fact that EliteXC officials have been double-speaking, with Jeremy Lappen being the most notorious culprit, it doesn’t look promising. Lappen, when he spoke to SI.com, stated that there was a knockout bonus but no submission bonus. When he spoke to ESPN.com, he stated that there were bonuses offered for knockouts, submissions and fight of the night, which contradicts what he had said just two days earlier. That’s not even counting the Benji Radach statement that he was offered no such bonus for his fight. Granted, these bonuses could be negotiated into fighter’s contracts before the show, but if you’re trying to tell me that Petruzelli would have had that clause negotiated into his contract for an undercard fight against Aaron Rosa that seems silly, and to suggest that he negotiated it into his contract in the three hours before the fight, that’s even sillier. I’m really hoping that it’s not the case and that there is a simple explanation for all of this, but there hasn’t been one yet, and as the old saying goes “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”.
My Five Cents: You have to go with Harrison here, not even including Petruzelli’s comments this is several degrees of fishy.
6. CBS will be smart and actually wait until EXC’s top draws are ready for their fourth show.
Morgan: TRUE. One would hope that CBS learned from the July show that putting on a show without top draws is a great way to have disastrous ratings. The ratings in July weren’t terrible but they certainly weren’t the same kind of ratings we saw with the first CBS show and now this last CBS show. The kind of show they ran in July belongs on Showtime. Lots of names that hardcores know and want to see but not a lot of people that Joe Casual will tune in to see. If they haven’t learned their lesson then shame on them. No one’s going to tune in to see mid level fighters on a mid level show. They want names, they want knockouts, and they want action. If you can’t provide that to them without your stars then you need to wait until they’re ready. Otherwise it will be another flop.
Harrison: TRUE. They’ll wait because they want the ratings and don’t really care what it does to the company to get them. The problem with having the same fighters working over and over on these CBS shows is that there is hardly any chance for EliteXC to be able to make new stars for the shows that follow when their draws either can’t fight or end up hurt. With the situation the company is in, it seems like it might end up being a moot point but EliteXC needs to be able to draw a rating with a show that doesn’t feature Kimbo or Gina and then I would be impressed. Right now, it’s coming across as if EliteXC is a company built around two people, which has to be a bit of a slap in the face to all of the rest of the fighters who have given their blood, sweat and hard work to the company. If they’re going to have any chance to be able to continue with this CBS deal and grow to possibly square off against the UFC one day for US MMA supremacy, they’re going to have to figure out a way to be able to get people to watch when they don’t have their two golden geese throwing hands.
My Five Cents: I’m going with Morgan simply because of “Joe Casual.” It’s much like Palin’s “Joe Six-Pack” but I like it much more…. a part of me wishes that were my name.
This was another edition of The Duel. Please join us next week when two different MMA writers will scratch and claw their way to Duel supremacy.