Well, this was just a stunner. I don’t think anyone could have seen this coming.
Less than three weeks after streetfighter-turned-MMA sensation Kimbo Slice got thrashed in 14 seconds by virtual unknown Seth Petruzelli, fight promoter EliteXC cancelled its next event on Nov. 8. Parent company Pro Elite has closed its doors.
Pro Elite had burned through $60 million during its short lifetime, and a deal to be acquired by Showtime Networks was apparently called off.
EliteXC arrived on the scene with considerable buzz after striking a deal to air four of its events live on CBS, the first time mixed martial arts would appear on network television in prime time. EliteXC hired Kimbo Slice, a former street brawler and Internet sensation, to headline its first “Saturday Night Fights” event. Slice won, and ratings for the event were solid. The next event also had solid ratings even without Kimbo as a headliner.
But devout MMA fans were never big fans of EliteXC because they viewed the quality of fights as inferior to UFC, the dominant MMA promoter. And Kimbo, despite his unique persona, was hardly dominant in his first EliteXC fight, even in victory.
The biggest problems for EliteXC, however, came earlier this month, when Slice was utterly embarrased by Petruzelli, who was only in the fight because of an injury to MMA veteran Ken Shamrock. And then things got even worse when Petruzelli hinted that prior to the fight, promoters had urged him to stand in against Slice rather than try and knock him out. Officials in Florida have since opened a preliminary investigation into possible fight fixing.
Back in June, I wrote about the massive gap in viability between UFC and other MMA promoters, including Pro Elite. While other promoters like Affliction and HDNet are still around, UFC is having no trouble maintaining its dominance.
- Tim Lemke