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Kimbo Slice

Kimbo’s EliteXC Goes Out of Business

October 22, 2008 11:14 AM
by Denis Cummings
EliteXC, a mixed martial arts promotion made famous by Kimbo Slice, is folding less than three weeks after Slice lost his first professional fight.

EliteXC KO’d

ProElite, a mixed martial arts media company that founded the EliteXC promotion in 2006, told employees and fighters Monday that it was ceasing operations immediately. It will likely file for bankruptcy protection later this week.

EliteXC is best known for featuring YouTube street-fighting sensation Kimbo Slice, who fought in four events. His third event, the May 31 EliteXC: Primetime, aired on CBS, making it the first MMA event ever to be broadcast on primetime network television. Slice won unconvincingly, and pundits denounced the fight as a “train wreck” and called Slice a “novelty act.” Nevertheless, the show was a ratings success for CBS.

EliteXC needed more than just one show to become a viable operation. In less than two years of operation, it lost over $55 million. By the time Slice returned to the ring—for the Oct. 4 EliteXC: Heat event—ProElite was out of money, forcing CBS to fund the event. It was in negotiations with Showtime Networks, which owned 20 percent of ProElite, to buy the remaining 80 percent.

EliteXC: Heat was a disaster for ProElite and proved to be its final event. Slice was scheduled to fight 44-year-old MMA legend Ken Shamrock in the main event, but Shamrock pulled out due to injury. He was replaced by journeyman light heavyweight Seth Petruzelli, who stunned Slice early with a jab and won the fight after just 14 seconds.

After the fight, Petruzelli said in a radio interview that promoters instructed him to stand and punch with Slice, a strategy that favored Slice. Though both Petruzelli and ProElite have said that Petruzelli was only offered a knockout bonus—a common and legal incentive—the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation launched an investigation to determine whether ProElite tried to manipulate the fight in Slice’s favor.

The event stained the reputation of both EliteXC and Slice. ProElite’s fate has now been sealed, but there are still questions about Slice’s future. Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White said that he wants no part of Slice, leaving two smaller promotions as his only MMA options. Though, with his intimidating image shattered by his loss, Slice may choose to leave professional fighting altogether.

Opinion & Analysis: ProElite’s demise and Slice’s future

The future of ProElite was in question long before EliteXC: Heat, though the event might have played a role in ProElite’s downfall. According to, “the questions raised by the incident and the pending investigation into the matter by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation derailed the one outcome that could have saved EliteXC from going under—a purchase of the promotion by Showtime.”

In an interview with, Icon Sport founder T. Jay Thompson says that CBS—not Showtime—was prepared to buy ProElite, but backed out after EliteXC: Heat. “I think (CBS) got cold feet watching,” he said. “The way the Ken Shamrock pullout was handled, all the way from the beginning to the end with Seth Petruzelli.”

The demise of ProElite leaves its fighters in limbo. One of its bigger stars, Jake Shields, may sign with UFC, but others will likely settle for smaller regional promotions. Female star Gina Carano will probably fight many one-off fights until UFC or another promotion forms a true women’s division.

The future of Kimbo Slice is just as unclear. UFC is not an option, as president Dana White has been highly critical of Slice. “It revealed everything I’ve been saying about him from day one,” said White about Slice’s last fight. “He can’t fight.”

There are two other promotions, Affliction and Strikeforce, of similar stature to EliteXC. MMA blog Bloody Elbow says that Affliction is the more likely destination of the two, but Slice presents problems for both. “He is exceptionally popular,” it says, “but do major promotions like Strikeforce or Affliction—who realize how limited his talent actually is—want to follow in EliteXC’s footsteps with meaningless match-making?”

Reference: MMA guide


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