I understand that the majority of response to Kimbo's brutal loss around these parts has been joy and cries of "I told you so." However, from a business standpoint EXC is left in an awkward spot. They put a huge percentage of their marketing into the Kevin Ferguson hype machine only to see him put on a dissapointing, exposing performance against James Thompson and then getting KO'ed in 14 seconds against a light heavyweight.
From a business standpoint it is difficult to see any way that EXC can write Kimbo off or relegate him to the undercard. It was clear that even after getting KO'ed that he was getting a very positive reaction from the crowd while Petruzelli was getting booed. Ferguson remains EXC's biggest star unless they manage to sign Tito Ortiz (which I don't believe will ever happen).
The way I see it EliteXC has to keep Ferguson at the top part of their card and they have three ways to handle his next fight:
1) Brett Rogers - This is the option that EXC takes if they want to transfer Kimbo's hype on to someone else. It also means the official end of the Slice gravy train because I don't see any way he doesn't lose to Rogers and a second straight loss takes away any mystique Kimbo has left. Rogers, however, is extremely marketable and has a legitimate chance of becoming a champion in the promotion (provided it survives that long). All that being said, I don't think they're ready to write off Slice.
2) Seth Petruzelli - This is a very risky option as Petruzelli isn't really a top level guy, maybe he could seem as such in EXC's 205 division but he just isn't a top guy anywhere else. The obvious upside here would be a Kimbo win allowing them to blow the loss off as a case of a guy being put off his game by a last minute change. But the risk is just too great, a second loss to Petruzelli would ruin Kimbo more than anything else I can think of.
3) Ken Shamrock - I think this is the direction they must go with this. It is as close to a guaranteed highlight reel KO for Slice as anything, and it would be against a big name opponent. There is also a storyline to build off of. Also, the matchup doesn't look quite as grotesque after the Kimbo loss. It's still transparent matchmaking, but at least it is now a very much needed type of transparent matchmaking.
Whatever the decision is, there is a desperate need for a Kimbo win for EXC to be able to continue delivering ratings. Their show yesterday was very good, but the only person on their roster aside from Kimbo who can draw reliable money is Gina Carano. As much as much of the MMA community would like to see Kevin Ferguson go back to fighting in backyards, EXC needs him and they need him with the aura that made him must-see TV.