JUST AS theneighborhood drag racing champ isn't necessarily NASCAR material, winning abunch of no-holds-barred brawls—no matter how spectacularly—doesn't make you aprofessional mixed martial arts fighter. Yet after his back-alley Miamistreet-fighting prowess had rendered him a YouTube sensation, Kevin Ferguson(nom de guerre: Kimbo Slice) wasn't merely offered a hefty contract in 2007.The founders of EliteXC based their entire fighting organization and its TVdeal with CBS on Kimbo's menacing presence.
One problem:Slice, 34, was not a credible MMA fighter. This inconvenient truth was laidbare last Saturday night. Slice, a heavyweight, had won his first three EliteXCfights, against opponents carefully selected for lose-ability. His scheduledrival on Saturday was Ken Shamrock, once a star but now a 44-year-old who'dlost his last five fights. On Saturday afternoon Shamrock was cut above hisleft eye while sparring, and commission officials deemed him unfit to compete.EliteXC replaced him with undercard fighter Seth Petruzelli, a journeymanconceding 30 pounds and two inches in height to the 6'2", 235-pound Slice.Plus, Petruzelli's hair was, regrettably, dyed pink. But in roughly the time itwill take you to read this sentence, Petruzelli ended the Kimbo myth and, quitepossibly, EliteXC. He dropped Slice with a short jab, threw a dozen morepunches and scored a 14-second TKO. This wasn't Buster Douglas stunning Tyson;it was Dorothy pulling back the Wizard's curtain.
The big winner onSaturday was the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), the dominant mixedmartial arts group. As challengers have surfaced, trying to siphon MMA's marketshare, the UFC often responds with force. When the Affliction organizationholds cards, the UFC schedules shows the same night. But with EliteXC, the UFCtook a different, even more effective, tack, standing by and watching as theleague overpayed and overhyped its star—and punched itself out.
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