EliteXC's Lappen Welcomes Investigation

Written by Tom Ngo
October 11th, 2008

On Thursday the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the Florida State Boxing Commission, decided to open up a preliminary investigation into Seth Petruzelli’s upset victory over Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson at last Saturday’s “Heat” event. Two days after Petruzelli turned the MMA world upside down, he went on a local Florida radio station and said that EliteXC management offered him more money if he kept his bout against Kimbo strictly a stand up battle. Now, the DBPR wants to make certain that there was no foul play involved. EliteXC has vehemently denied these allegations and claims they have nothing to hide.

“It’s not a concern at all,” EliteXC’s head of fight operations Jeremy Lappen told MMAJunkie.com regarding DBPR’s investigation. “In fact we’re glad that they’re doing that.

“Because now they can do their investigation. They can check all the facts and then report that nothing happened. Then hopefully that just puts the story to bed. I’m glad that they’re doing the investigation.”

Hours before accepting the fight against Kimbo as a last minute replacement, Petruzelli stated that EliteXC management offered him additional “bonus” money if he were to make sure that his fight against the street fighting legend remained a stand up affair.

“The promoters kind of 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,” Petruzelli stated last Monday on the “Monsters in the Morning Show” on 104.1 FM in Orlando, Florida.

As soon as EliteXC brass caught wind of Peruzelli’s statement, they vehemently denied any wrongdoing, suggesting Petruzelli misunderstood the “bonuses” that they were offering him.

“Absolutely not,” EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw, who was present when the “bonuses” were discussed, told MMAWeekly.com about the allegations. “Whether that was something Seth was taken out of context or Seth was trying to say something different, I don’t know. What I can tell you, I was in the locker room with Seth with the contract; that did not happen.”

Later, Petruzelli seemed to retract his initial statement, perhaps after EliteXC management got a hold of the fighter. However, their stories still weren’t consistent.

“What was meant to be said was that I wanted to keep the fight standing for myself because I knew that was what the crowd, the promoters, and everyone wanted to see because that’s more exciting than just taking someone to the ground,” Petruzelli told FiveOunceofPain. “That was my thing only. I wanted to keep it exciting, so I decided to keep it standing. It had nothing to do with anybody else. That was all me.”

The “bonuses” that were discussed with Petruzelli are the typical fight bonuses that larger promotions, including the UFC, hand out to their fighters based on their performance for the night.

“Yes,” Petruzelli told FiveOuncesOfPain regarding the bonuses. “There were Submission bonuses, Knockout bonuses, and a “Fight of the Night” bonus — just like the UFC does it. They just want an exciting fight no matter where it goes.”

However, what got people questioning the “bonuses” discussed were the contradictions of what kinds of bonuses EliteXC actually offers. Lappen’s aren’t the same ones that Petruzelli mentioned.

“We don’t give Submission bonuses,” Lappen told SI.com. “(But Petruzelli) knew a Knockout bonus was possible before the fight.”

What raises more eyebrows is that Benji Radach, who defeated Murilo “Ninja” Rua earlier in the night, stated that he had never heard of EliteXC offering fighters any kind of fight bonuses.

“No, not at all,” Radach said, when asked whether EliteXC officials ever mentioned Knockout, Submission, or Fight of the Night bonuses, before or after the event. “I wish there was a bonus because I think my fight was really exciting, maybe Fight of the Night or Knockout of the Night. But nope, I never heard anything.”

The situation seemed to be dying down, until late Thursday evening when the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the Florida State Boxing Commission, decided to open up an investigation to make sure the truth is brought to light.

“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,” Jennifer Meale, Communications Director for the DBPR, told ESPN.com.

“I think we’ve been pretty clear,” Lappen said of the situation. “To me there’s no story. It didn’t happen.”

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