EliteXC Under Investigation by Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation

Kimbo Slice Tank Abbott Gary Shaw MMA EliteXC

(If Tank was allowed to use his fearsome jiu-jitsu, it would have been a totally different story. Photo courtesy of MMAWeekly.)

When it was first announced that the Florida State Boxing Commission would not be investigating EliteXC’s alleged fight-fixing attempt, it seemed like the scandal would quietly be swept under the rug. But the public/media outcry has become too loud to ignore, and ESPN.com is reporting that the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation — which oversees the FSBC — will open a preliminary investigation into the legality of Seth Petruzelli’s “knockout bonus”:

“While the Department of Business and Professional Regulation doesn’t have any reason to believe there was a problem with the Slice-Petruzelli fight, given the interest in it, the Department has begun a preliminary investigation to thoroughly review the circumstances of the fight,” said Jennifer Meale, Communications Director for the DBPR.

Responding to this new development, EliteXC Head of Operations Jeremy Lappen continued to deny that the promotion acted inappropriately in any way:

“We offered Seth Petruzelli a knockout bonus, a submission bonus and “fight of the night” bonus. If we were trying to influence the fight, why would we do that?”

Oh, so now Seth was offered a submission bonus too? This is the first we’ve heard about that one, and of course, it directly contradicts what Petruzelli originally said. (”They didn’t want me to take him down.”) Former EliteXC boss Gary Shaw isn’t helping their case either. Speaking to the L.A. Times, $kala’s dad said…

…he wouldn’t hesitate to “go to a fighter and say, ‘We’re looking for a stand-up fight.’ You’re not asking him to throw a fight. You’re talking about a fan-friendly fight, not about protecting Kimbo….I don’t see it as unethical, asking him to be TV and fan friendly.”

Unfortunately, that’s the kind of attitude that could be construed as an attempt to influence the fight — which apparently that has been standard operating procedure at EliteXC. But as much as this hurts EliteXC’s reputation, and MMA’s in general, UFC prez Dana White explains that the real losers in this story are the gamblers:

“The Mandalay Bay and Venetian [casinos] took bets on that fight,” White told ESPN.com. “If you’re a fan of mixed martial arts and you sit down and do all the stats and you’re like ‘man, if this thing goes to the ground, Seth Petruzelli can win this fight, I’m gonna bet on Seth Petruzelli.’

“Then you don’t know the promoters are paying the guy and saying ‘don’t go to the ground?’ That’s criminal. If that was in Las Vegas and the Nevada Athletic Commission had put that fight on, the FBI would be investigating them right now.”

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