With all of the following above said, let’s address the negative impact that Wilbon’s comments will have on Elite XC and MMA in general. Plenty of mainstream, casual fans watch Pardon the Interruption. Likely, so do a lot of the suits in CBS Sports. In the time span of four days, we’ve gone from Gus Johnson calling Seth Petruzelli’s win over Kimbo Slice as “the biggest upset in the history of Mixed Martial Arts”, to Petruzelli claiming that promoters kinda hinted to him that they wanted him to keep things standing up, to a flurry of conflicting public statements involving Petruzelli and Elite XC management, to Jim Rome and other mainstream media outlets quoting Dana White on why this scandal is bad for the MMA business, to Gary Shaw admitting in the LA Times that he doesn’t find asking MMA fighters to ’stand-up’ as being unethical, to now Michael Wilbon calling the fight a fix — but for different reasons than anyone could have imagined in MMA media circles.
How anyone could possibly think that this scandal has not been damaging to Elite XC and/or MMA is beyond me. The wildcard in all of this is how or where the media takes this next. If the media takes their cues from people like Dana White, then it’s clear that this scandal will have a sharpened focus on Elite XC and what their role is in the MMA business. If the media takes their cues from no one and decides to basically tar-and-feather the entire industry on the accusation of Kimbo/Petruzelli being ‘fixed’ (but for the wrong reasons), then who knows how much damage will be created here. It’s starting to look more and more like it is going to be in UFC’s best interest to address this topic specifically in the media and put the focus on where it should be — not only to correct media writers and personalities, but to also protect the company image that UFC has been spending years building up with the general public.