Monday, November 10, 2008
The Kimbo Crash
This will be old news for those of you who follow mixed martial arts, but the rest of you might see some parallels between the story of Kimbo Slice (né Kevin Ferguson -- the formidable-looking fellow pictured above) and the fall of some formerly formidable-looking businesses this year.
The heavy-handed Kimbo Slice became famous as videos of his street fights, such as the one below, circulated on the internet.
Capitalizing on Kimbo Slice's notoriety, the mixed martial arts league Elite Xtreme Combat ("Elite XC"), operated by ProElite, Inc. (Pink Sheets: PELE.PK) signed him up as its marquee heavyweight fighter. ProElite signed a deal with the Showtime Networks, Inc. subsidiary of CBS (NYSE: CBS) to show fights on Showtime and CBS. Elite XC brought Kimbo Slice along deliberately, attempting to match him with beatable opponents. Kimbo's first Elite XC fight, with a 10-10 MMA fighter named Bo Cantrell -- who had lost his previous 4 fights -- ended in seconds, with Cantrell seemingly giving up after barely being hit. Next, Elite XC matched Slice with the 43 year-old David "Tank" Abbot, who had a 9-13 MMA record going into the fight. Another knock out for Kimbo.
Elite XC did step up the level of competition for Kimbo's third fight, against the 14-8 James Thompson (although Thompson was coming off two back-to-back knockout losses). Kimbo won in the third round, after a controversial stoppage. After that close call, Elite XC picked the 44 year-old Ken Shamrock as Kimbo's fourth opponent, in a fight it would broadcast in prime time on CBS on Saturday Night, October 4th. Shamrock had a 26-13-2 record going into the fight and a storied reputation in mixed martial arts, but he had also lost his last five fights. At the last minute though, Ken Shamrock backed out of the match due to a training injury. Elite XC replaced him with a light heavyweight named Seth Petruzelli had been scheduled to fight on an un-televised undercard. Petruzelli was a part-time MMA fighter whose day job was running his Smoothie King franchise. Below is a video of the fight.
Two weeks later, ProElite, Inc. received a notice of default from Showtime Networks and the Los Angeles Times reported that ProElite was considering filing for bankruptcy.