Last night I cage announced the undercard of what was supposed to be the Kimbo Slice - Ken Shamrock Card on CBS. For those who tuned in, you heard that Shamrock got cut training earlier in the day and Seth "The Silverback" Petruzelli replaced him (and shockingly knocked out Kimbo in 14 seconds).
I'm not sure if the CBS announcers communicated what went on behind the scenes, but it was nerve racking for everyone involved.
The first fight was scheduled for 6:00 with the CBS broadcast starting at 9:00. A few minutes after 5:00, I was tipped off that Shamrock had pulled out. What he was doing training the afternoon of the fight is beyond me. Elite XC asked Petruzelli if he'd step in.
The Silverback took the fight. Hopefully, they made him a generous offer to do so. However, since the fight was not official yet, I couldn't tell the crowd about the change. Around 6:30 I got word that Kimbo said he would only fight Shamrock or not fight at all.
This was a potential disaster. Financially -- Elite XC would have had to offer a refund to the crowd, which was quite large. The reputation of MMA and Elite XC would have certainly suffered. And most importantly, there was genuine concern there would be a riot.
In fact, at around 7:00 or so, Jimmy Lennon, Jr. told me CBS was working on the wording for the announcement to the crowd, and that we would have to give the arena's management a 15 minute warning before the announcement was made, in order to get security in place.
At about 8:00, CBS's stage manager told me that before Jimmy makes the announcement, they were going to take CBS's talent to a secure area and that I was welcome to join them if I wanted to. Hell yes, I wanted to!
I was still sworn to secrecy but I was planning on texting a friend in the crowd (John Martin who produces Through the Ropes) to go find somewhere safe.
Luckily, at 8:30 we got word that Kimbo had thankfully agreed to the fight. You could see everyone in the know exhale a deep sigh of relief.
I give a lot of credit to both Kimbo and Petruzelli for taking the fight. I don't know if Kimbo was threatened, bribed, cajoled, bluffed or in any other way persuaded to take the fight (Petruzelli accepted right away). As it turns out, I think the rematch will be bigger than the Shamrock fight ever was.
Just a little peek at what was going on cage side and behind the curtains.
FYI - no show this week due to Yom Kippur. Talk to you next week.