Wilbon Sticking By His Comments On The Kimbo Slice Fight Being Fixed

Monday, October 13, 2008

Michael Wilbon cause quite a stir in the MMA community last week when he decided to say that the CBS Elite XC fight between Kimbo Slice and Seth Petruzelli was fixed and even compared the Sport of MMA to professional wrestling. Well David Scott, of Scott's Shots, followed up with Wilbon via email and actually got a response back from the PTI co-host.

After Wilbon had explained his feeling on the Sport and about the fight itself, in the first email, there was a second exchange between the two. Here's what went down...


Thanks Mike. Appreciate the response.

I’m far from an MMA expert - or even a fan - but the criticism I’m reading of your comments seems to stem from A) you’re not well-informed about the sport (for instance, the difference between EliteXC and UFC) and B) you’re dismissing the fact that 4.3 million watched the fight - a very respectable number and far better then hockey or soccer for instance. (That number is what MLB is averaging on TBS for the first round of playoffs, in fact).

I guess I’m asking if you would be so dismissive and condescending to the NHL? Or MLS? Or Arena Football?

Can you see where MMA fans and supporters would be a bit outraged and perturbed? Can you also comment on whether or not you would use such harsh terms with a “mainstream” sport?

Have you received a lot of correspondence re: this subject? Seems like the MMA fans are pretty protective of their sport. . .

Thanks again for your time.

Wilbon Response #2

Hi David…Believe me, I expected the criticism. But while I appear on TV 5 days a week I’m a columnist. Tough stances are what we do. I don’t need to be well versed in MMA to watch and listen and make an observation. And, I don’t care if 20 million people watch. Millions watch professional wrestling but that doesn’t mean we don’t question the outcome. The number of people watching makes it popular and well received, but doesn’t mean the event is above question. I’m not paid by MMA. I don’t care how many people watch. Why is my making the same observation about boxing, which I do know tons about and have covered and criticized, ignored in this discussion? And ANYBODY who watches “PTI” knows I have ripped (as well as praised) every single sport out there, from the NFL to MLS to NBA to the NHL to Arena Football, etc. I’ve ripped apart folks whose events get a whole lot more than 4.3 million people watching. So while there are plenty of valid criticisms of my opinions, pulling punches on various sports ain’t one of them. Whoever makes that criticism either isn’t familiar with my work or has an agenda. It’s bull*&^@ and can be completely refuted by simply pulling five tapes of “PTI” (or five of my columns) from the last 7 years. Anyway, in terms of the amount of criticism that might be coming my way, that seems to be something that people who do TV and critique TV really care about. I could care less. I’ve written a column for 18 years. I’m sure you know this ain’t the first reaction to something I’ve written. It’s their right and I encourage the give and take. But if angry readers were going to move a columnist off his mark he and his work wouldn’t be worth a damn. So if the MMA folks are upset they’ll let me know. It won’t be the first dust-up, nor the last. I think it’s a fascinating study, though, the way people apparently think now that their criticism can back people down who criticize something they love. Sorry. Not here. I don’t mind in the least the give and take with fans of whatever sport it is voicing their opinion…Conversation has to be a two-way street… In Atlanta people get upset because I call Atlanta the worst sports city in America. They write. Some scream. A very few agree. I build my argument, make my case and people accept or reject it…But it’s not like I’m going to run and hide because people send some angry e-mail…Are people in media that gutless now. If people don’t think 28 years of covering sports gives me some knowledge and insight they’ll stop watching/listening/reading. I guess we’ll see what happens over the next few days when I return to the show Monday…But thanks for engaging in the discussion. Sorry to ramble. Don’t hesitate to correspond in any case…Take care. MW
Okay....so did you make it all the way through that? Good. First of all, it's really interesting that Wilbon is taking the time to talk to websites/blogs, like Scott's Shots, now. It shows a better understanding of the new medium on his part and it's better for everyone interested in a story like this. Second, he's overall point is right. I don't think it was fixed myself, but there's no way the Sport shouldn't be without scrutiny. Just like this site, or any other blog, Wilbon is simply giving an opinion in the end. I understand the passion of MMA fans, but just because someone disagrees with you, doesn't necessarily mean that they are wrong. Remember....anything is possible.

Wilbon Expands on MMA/Kimbo Slice Comments (Scott's Shots)
ESPN's Michael Wilbon Says Kimbo Slice- Seth Petruzelli Fight Was Fixed (Fanhouse)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 4:02 PM


You're right, AA. Anything is Possible!!!


Anonymous said...
Oct 13, 2008, 4:12:00 PM  

This is the first time in awhile that I've agreed whole-heartedly with Wilbon. Not necessarily regarding the fix, but that he won't back down just because his opinion isn't popular.

GMoney said...
Oct 13, 2008, 4:17:00 PM  

Paragraphs, Wilbon. Paragraphs.

Anonymous said...
Oct 13, 2008, 4:33:00 PM  

Wilbon was channeling his inner Sean Salisbury with that response.

I agree that it is very refreshing to see a public figure refuse to apologize for his beliefs and opinions. Hope this becomes a trend...

Anonymous said...
Oct 13, 2008, 4:41:00 PM  

@ Mike Wilbon if you're reading this: Paragraphs are your friends.

The run-on-iness of that notwithstanding, I do agree with Wilbon.

Justin F. said...
Oct 13, 2008, 4:42:00 PM  

AA, in the opening paragraph you have incorrectly identified Kimbo's opponent as Steve Petruzelli. It is actually Seth Petruzelli, which is correctly found in the link you have at the end of the page. Just letting you know.

Anonymous said...
Oct 13, 2008, 5:00:00 PM  

i remember watching the show, but i couldn't even tell which way he was claiming the fight was fixed. i thought first he said the jab that knocked slice out was a joke and that it was faked, but then i thought he said that they were fixing the fight for kimbo to win.

i am a much bigger fan than a casual fan, but i don't think i would quite consider myself a hardcore mma fan. i pretty much only watch ufc. and my opinion on slice's fights is that yes, they are fixed. they're having him fight has-beens and never-was'. in his first fight on cbs, the referee, probably from pressure or compensation, had an agenda to favor slice. it was pretty obvious. in this last fight, with word that seth was asked to keep it on their feet and was paid a knockout bonus even before the fight, it was clearly fixed. i think the ref was even ready to stand them up after the hit to the back of kimbo's head, but i believe he stopped because kimbo was hurt before that strike and it would've looked way too obvious that it was fixed. even more obvious than the first fight. elitexc is a joke and it is hurting the sport of mma, more specifically, the ufc. casual fans will either avoid watching mma if they don't like this type of prearranged entertainment, or they'll choose wwe or tna over it.

Anonymous said...
Oct 13, 2008, 5:26:00 PM  

The person who Kimbo fought is named Seth Petruzelli, not Steve.

Anonymous said...
Oct 13, 2008, 6:32:00 PM  

im fine with wilbon not liking mma and letting everyone know that he doesnt have much respect for the sport, but doesnt it seem irresoponsible for him to say on television that the fight was fixed without knowing that for sure? okay, PTI is an opion-based show but if he doesnt have any proof to back up a claim that the fight was fixed hes just throwing dirt around simply because he doesnt like mma and has a feeling about this fight. whats next, we get to hear that wilbon KNOWS the CIA killed Kennedy?

Anonymous said...
Oct 13, 2008, 7:19:00 PM  

Respect for Wilbon just got higher.

Anonymous said...
Oct 13, 2008, 7:54:00 PM  

I'm a PTI fan and have never got into the MMA craze- good for Wilbon! I agree with you

Mark B said...
Oct 13, 2008, 8:23:00 PM  

If you were going to fix the fight, why have it fixed so Kimbo, your big marquee name loses in 11 seconds? I'm not saying it's not possible, but if that's how they planned it, then EliteXC deserves to go under due to sheer stupidity.

Anonymous said...
Oct 13, 2008, 9:00:00 PM  

Outraged! MMA fans everywhere are slamming protein shakes and busting out of their size small Tapout tshirts. They will get revenge!

Anonymous said...
Oct 14, 2008, 2:16:00 AM  

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