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William Grewe
William Grewe
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Mixed Martial Arts And Product Liability?

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Some forces in the fast-rising sport of Mixed Martial Arts scrambled to keep their footing in the wake of a statement by victorious fighter Seth Petruzelli, this week, that he was encouraged, pre-fight, by promoters to fight his popular opponent Kimbo Slice standing up. The implication is that, unbeknownst to viewers and ticket buyers, one contestant was asked to compromise his skill set so as to present a better show. Simply, while packaged as nearly a "no holds barred" spectacle presented on a cage-like platform ringed by an exuberant crowd an invisible hand might have sought to tweak Saturday night’s battle between Petruzelli and Slice shown on CBS. The fledgling sport does not have a visible core commissioner as does MLB, the NFL and the NBA with whom the buck stops and credibility is the call of the day. Consistently, television networks and producers when any program involves chance, such as game shows, go to the extreme to protect their viewers from any possible misleading content. Promoters have denied any payment or suggestion to Petruzelli that he keep the fight off the mat. Petruzelli, who won the fignt in 14 seconds, backed-off his statement that promoters

"hinted to me, and they gave me the money, to stand and trade with [Slice]. They didn’t want me to take him down. Let’s just put it that way."

Petruzelli later said that any money paid was a knock-out bonus. What is undisputed is that the fight was a product advertised and sold to patrons and viewers as a match where both contestants were to compete to their fullest within the applicable rules. Whether they got what they paid, or tuned-in, for is not so clear. While the demographics and ratings for MMA are stunning, CBS might now be rolling its eye.