Seth Petruzelli is often remembered as the fighter that exposed Kimbo Slice, but he would have never gotten the chance to be in that position if it wasn't for a now-infamous cut suffered by Slice's original opponent the night before their fight.
It was supposed to be Ken Shamrock facing Kimbo at EliteXC: Heat in Florida that night when everything went haywire. More than three years have passed, yet Shamrock hasn't talked much about the incident, which turned controversial as rumors spread that Shamrock purposely injured himself after a late request for an increased payday were refused.
In a recent interview on The MMA Hour, Shamrock discussed the incident in detail.
First off, Shamrock denied that it was a money grab gone wrong. According to him, there was a financial issue related to the fight. His deal stipulated that he was to be the highest-paid fighter on the card, a discrepancy that never got resolved because of the cut that knocked him out of the event.
But, he said, this issue wouldn't have stopped him from fighting.
"We never got an opportunity to straighten that out, but it wasn't like it wasn't going to get straightened out," he said.
Asked if he would have fought had it not been straightened out, Shamrock didn't need to hear the entire question.
"Absolutely," he said.
Some of the rumors came from people inside the company, lending credence to what was said. But Shamrock said that was a byproduct of the anger from many because the fight wasn't happening.
The injury took place the day of the fight. The night before, he had received a phone call that his adoptive father Bob, who had been in the hospital for months, had taken a turn for the worse. It had gotten so bad that during the call, they asked Shamrock if he wanted to consider ending life support procedures for him.
With his fight looming, Shamrock asked them to delay that agonizing decision for afterward. But it still weighed heavily on his mind as he made final preparations to face Slice. In his mind, it was an easy fight, but he feared his distraction could cost him, so on the day of the bout, he called his friend Dan Freeman to come to his hotel room and go through drills.
The session was a light one, with Shamrock practicing takedowns, mounts, ground and pound, and rear naked chokes. That's how he figured the fight would go. At one point, he had Freeman's back and went to sink in the choke, but Freeman popped his head up and caught Shamrock around the outside of his left eyebrow.
Shamrock saw a drop of his blood fall on Freeman's back, but since he hadn't felt any pain, his initial thought was it was hardly serious. When he looked in the mirror, he knew it was worse than expected, and called a doctor who was part of his camp. Shamrock eventually had the laceration double-stitched, and prayed that the Florida State Boxing Commission would allow him to compete. But when they looked him over, they quickly scratched him,
"I was upset, obviously," he said. "It’s Kimbo Slice, for God's sakes. How hard is that going to be? And that’s exactly what I said. I said, ‘It ain’t going to take long. He’s going to go to the ground and the fight’s over.' Basically that was my case to them, but they came back and said it wasn’t going to happen."
Shamrock said that in the aftermath, he was surprised with the blowback he was receiving, and the accusations that were flying his way, as if the previous years of his career suddenly counted for nothing.
The entirety of the situation made it difficult to digest.
"I don't understand some of the comments that were made," he said. "I mean, who am I? Who is this Ken Shamrock, all of the sudden that cut himself? Who is this guy who went into the ring fearless for 13, 15, 20 years, would fight anybody... all of the sudden he's changed?"
Despite it all, Shamrock says that he's comfortable with his legacy as a fighter, even though he might not be done in the cage. Though he turned 48 years old last month and hasn't competed since November 2010, Shamrock said he'd be willing to take a fight as long as it interested both him and the fans.