In this edition of “Around The Cage”, we take a look at Jared Shaw’s allegations of Frank Shamrock offering to throw a fight against Kimbo Slice, plus a huge weekend of fights coming up from the UFC, Bellator, Titan Fighting Championships, and the M-1 Challenge debut on Showtime.
Let’s go Around The Cage, 3/22/11
Frank Shamrock Denies Offering To Take A Dive Against Kimbo
Jared Shaw, the former matchmaker of EliteXC, had this to say on Sherdog.com’s Rewind radio show this past Sunday:
"Frank Shamrock pulled me in the back of a room, turned the music up and offered to work the fight against Kimbo Slice"
Shaw, of course, is referring to October 8, 2008, the night Ken Shamrock, due to a fluke cut during warm-ups, was forced out of the main event against Kimbo Slice. Shamrock was replaced by journeyman Seth Petruzelli, who promptly knocked out the overmatched Kimbo in 0:18 of the first round and also KO’d the much maligned EliteXC promotion in the process.
What some people don’t know, is that Frank Shamrock, on hand as part of the CBS broadcast team, was ready to shed his suit, tighten his braces and step into the cage to replace brother Ken. He even went as far as to contact the California State Athletic commission to gain clearance and had claimed at the time that Armando Garcia of that commission had cleared him (the CSAC later denied this, saying that they were in fact called, but had no record of Garcia clearing Shamrock to fight. Shamrock was in the midst of a medical suspension due to a broken arm suffered seven months earlier in a loss to Cung Le).
It wasn’t until 40 minutes before airtime that EliteXC, with input from CBS, made the call to go with Petruzelli. Even if we assume Shamrock was cleared to fight, there were concerns from the CBS people that a man outweighed by 40 pounds with a barely healed broken arm, who had not been training for a fight, would turn the event into a circus.
A circus is what they ended up with anyway, as the rainbow haired Petruzelli not only killed the aura of Kimbo but also helped kill EliteXC when he claimed that the company offered him money to keep the fight standing.
“My original plan was to throw a lot of push kicks, called teeps and try to rush in more, and then shoot in on him, obviously—I train with lots of undefeated pro boxers, a couple guys have a belt and my style kinda throws them off a bit. I have an awkward style. So, I knew I would do alright standing up with him. The promoters kinds hinted to me, and they gave me the money to stand and trade with him. They didn’t want me to take him down. Let’s just put it that way.”
At this point EliteXC was tens of millions of dollars in the hole and were counting on CBS to bail them out. But with the meal ticket exposed and allegations of what amounted to fight fixing, CBS backed off. And EliteXC was officially dead.
Which brings us back to Frank Shamrock. We know he offered to take the fight against Kimbo, but did he also offer to lose the fight to Kimbo?
“No, absolutely not,” Shamrock told Ariel Helwani, on Helwani’s MMA Hour on Monday. “It sounds like he's trying to sell a book or something, or write a movie script."
"Where would I get the music at? What are you talking about here? Do I just carry a beatbox with me?"
Helwani also ended up being dragged into this muck, because Shaw claimed Helwani was aware of Shamrock’s plan to throw the fight. Helwani denies this.
Shamrock did go on to say that he may have offered to make Kimbo “look like a million bucks,” implying that he would carry the fight before eventually winning. I’m sure he did say this, because why even bring it up if it isn’t the truth?
Some will point to Shamrock’s time in Pancrase, where he spent the majority of his career, as proof that he is willing to work fights. Ken Shamrock, among others, has already admitted that some early Pancrase fights were worked, which is no big secret in 2011 some 15-20 years later. Critics will also point to the fact that EliteXC apparently paid off Petruzelli to stay standing with Kimbo (for the record, Petruzelli later backtracked off of his original statement, but the damage was already done), so working fights wasn’t exactly something unheard of or even frowned upon in that company.
I don’t think Shamrock intended to throw the fight. I do believe he intended to carry Kimbo for a round or two, and then beat him. Shamrock has always had a keen understanding of the business aspect of MMA, and likely understood that beating Kimbo quickly would be damaging to the company. But he was likely also smart enough to understand that beating Kimbo on national TV, in front of millions of eyeballs, (stepping in for his injured brother, no less) would have catapulted him to stardom in the eyes of new fans who likely had never seen him fight during the height of his popularity in the dark days of the pre Zuffa UFC. You can’t script opportunities like that one, with an easy to defeat opponent in front of one of the largest audiences to ever watch an MMA fight.
It should also be noted, that during this time frame, Frank Shamrock was trying very hard to set up a fight against Ken Shamrock. What better way to promote such a fight, than dispatching of the “mighty” Kimbo Slice, who still had an aura surrounding him at that point, and following up the victory with a scathing post fight promo directed at the man who he replaced?
I’m not buying what Shaw is selling. It just doesn’t add up.
Four Big Fight Cards Highlight A Packed Weekend
UFC Fight Night 24 is not the only big show this weekend.
The weekend kicks off Friday night on Showtime, as M-1 makes its Showtime debut with M-1 Challenge 24 “Damkovsky vs. Figueroa.”
The main event, as you can probably ascertain from the title, pits lightweight champion Artiom Damkovsky (8-4) against Jose Figueroa (9-4). Figueroa won a tournament to earn the title shot.
M-1 has a reputation for having good events. The undercard features former UFC fighter Vinny Magalhaes, who is 4-1 since being cut from the UFC in 2009.
Friday on HDNet, we have Titan Fighting Championships 17, from Kansas City.
The top three fights feature Abe Wagner (coming off of his impressive demolition of the fighter formerly known as Tim Sylvia) vs. EliteXC & Strikeforce veteran Aaron Rosa, Phil Baroni vs. (“not that”, but we wish it was) Nick Nolte, and Bobby Lashley, finally returning after his loss to Chad Griggs last August, taking on John Ott, an 8-7 journeyman who aside from one Bellator fight last year, has spent his career trading wins with bums on cards with names like Brutaal Fight Night (yes, that’s with two a’s) and Fight Party. He holds exactly one win against an opponent with a winning record. Smells like a can.
Saturday has Bellator 38 from Tunica, Mississippi and live on MTV2. This week is the light heavyweight quarterfinals.
The matchups feature Tim Carpenter vs. Daniel Gracie, Nik “Machete” Fakete (the nickname champion of the group) vs. Chris Davis, D.J. Linderman vs. the likely favorite, Raphael Davis, and Rich Hale vs. my dark horse pick to win it all, French submission master Christian M’Pumbu.
Wrapping up the weekend, we have UFC Fight Night 24 on Spike.
The main event sees wrestling savant Phil Davis go up against Antonio Rogerio Nogueria, in the biggest fight of Davis’s career. An impressive win could catapult him into sniffing distance of a title shot.
Leonard Garcia takes on the “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, in a rematch of what was the 2010 fight of the year in many circles. This was originally a rematch of the Garcia win over Nam Phan, which was probably the biggest highway robbery of a decision I’ve ever seen in following this sport over the last 18 years. And imagine the ground that covers with all of the shady decisions in Japan over the years. Phan was forced to pull out.
Rounding out the television portion of the card, Dan Hardy takes on Anthony Johnson, and former TUF winner Amir Sadollah faces DaMarques Johnson.
In Case You Missed It…
Some big names competed in Poland last week on the KSW 15 show.
In the main event, former UFC fighter James Irvin (who missed weight attempting to cut down to middleweight) was easily submitted by Mamed Khalidov. The fight was competed at a catch weight.
Irvin was replacing Thales Leites, who was replacing Matt Lindland, and was fighting in Poland due to his recent California State Athletic Commission suspension for testing positive for (and I can’t make this up) a bovine steroid. Yes, cow steroids. The suspension had forced a cancellation of his scheduled main event fight against Houston Alexander for Shark Fights, which led to taking the fight in Poland against Khalidov, whose proposed opponents were dropping like flies.
In the semi-main event, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou knocked out KSW light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz to win the title.
And for those of you keeping up with television ratings in Poland, Around The Cage has you covered. The event drew a scant 1.5 million viewers. Previous KSW shows have topped 6 million.
Coming & Going
UFC has cut Todd Brown. Brown was 0-2 in two UFC contests.
Bellator has signed undefeated heavyweight prospect Blagoi Ivanov. The former sambo champion is 3-0 (including a Sengoku win over Kazuyuki Fujita) and holds a victory over Fedor Emelianenko...in sambo.
Ken Shamrock & Seth Petruzelli, who you may remember from our lead story this week, will co-headline for World Extreme Fighting on April 22. Petruzelli takes on Dave Mewborn (8-3-1), while Shamrock will face Antony Rea, who is 20-13 with a 2005 win over Cyborg Santos. He also has losses to Rich Franklin, James McDonald, Marvin Eastman, Matt Horwich, Vitor Belfort, Jason Guida, Steve Steinbeiss and James Te Huna, so he is no stranger to big name opponents.
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