Mixed martial arts made its primetime network television debut on CBS tonight with EliteXC ‘Primetime.’ It was a historical night that had its shining moments, yet I’m highly disappointed in most of what I saw.
- Kimbo Slice defeats James Thompson via TKO (Strikes) in Round Three
- Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith ruled No Contest (Doctor Stoppage – Inadvertent Thumb to the Eye) in Round Three
- Gina Carano defeats Kaitlin Young via TKO (Doctor Stoppage) after end of Round Two
- Joey Villasenor defeats Phil Baroni via TKO in Round One
- Brett Rogers defeats Jon Murphy via KO in Round One
- Chris Liguori defeats Jim Bova via TKO (Doctor Stoppage) in Round Two
- Carlton Haselrig defeats Carlos Moreno via TKO in Round One
- Matt Makowski defeats Nick Serra via TKO in Round Two
- Wilson Reis defeats Justin Robbins via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round One
- James Jones defeats Calvin Kattar via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round One
- Zach Makovsky defeats Andre Soares via Unanimous Decision
- Joe Sampieri defeats Mike Groves via TKO in Round One
Casual Fan Reaction
I had the opportunity to watch the fights with primarily casual UFC fans, many of which were asking if what they were watching was the UFC. In essence, it was the perfect crowd to gauge how the event would be taken by the masses, and the reaction wasn’t good. For the most part there was little I could do to defend it, as I was thinking a lot of the same things myself.
Comments like, “this is horrible. The UFC is way better.” Can’t argue with that one with the show EliteXC put on.
“I’ll never watch another EliteXC event again.” From their perspective, I can’t really blame them.
“This show is a joke.” In many ways it was.
It kills me to sit here and write this, but by and large I think this is what new viewers and casual fans are thinking. I really tried to put the event into perspective for them prior to the show starting, and felt embarrassed almost from the start.
I was looking forward to seeing MMA being portrayed as a sport and not a spectacle. With a few exceptions, ‘Primetime’ was much more spectacle than sport. The broadcasting team did a great job, but they couldn’t make up for opening with Busta Rhymes and Brett Rogers entourage. The “street” image was in full force and it really had no business being on such an important event. I thought EliteXC and CBS would have been smart enough to tone it down from the usual EliteXC production, but it seemed as if they turned it up higher than they have in the past.
Whoever let Brett Roger’s entourage in the cage after he won should be fired. The dancing that ensued was deplorable and had no place on the national stage and I’m embarrassed for all the people who I convinced to tune in.
And then there is the dancers. Don’t get me started on the fucking dancers.
Baroni vs. Villasenor
Phil Baroni didn’t do us any favors with his WWE-esque entrance. Baroni’s been doing that little act for a long time and every time I see it, I can’t wait for him to get in the ring and get knocked out. Thank you Joey Villasenor for doing that. Once again, whoever let him come out like that should be fired.
Needless to say, the show got off to a very rough start.
Gina Carano vs. Kaitlin Young
Gina Carano and Kaitlin Young were next and they seemed to get it back on track. I really enjoyed the fight and was impressed with Carano taking it to Young. The “I think that’s what its called” gogoplata was not something I was expecting to see Gina—who is not regarded as a Jiu-Jitsu specialist—try and pull off.
They both got their shots in, but Gina’s superior Muay Thai skills shined through before she ran out of gas. Young is, well, still very young and fairly new to MMA, so while it was a disappointing loss for her, she’ll be back and will have a bright future in the sport.
There’s been a lot of fuss over the stoppage. I didn’t necessarily agree with it, but it was pretty obvious throughout the night that they were erring on the side of caution with the card being on CBS. As it turns out they made the right call because word is that Young has a broken orbital bone (I may be wrong on the name of the bone—the one below her eye), according to news TJ De Santis passed along on Sherdog’s Beatdown Radio tonight.
Lawler vs. Smith
Scott Smith and Robbie Lawler were so close to saving this event. They were on their way to an instant classic reminiscent of Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar—the fight that turned the UFC into an overnight success and perhaps saved mixed martial arts.
There’s a reason I like Scott Smith and he showed exactly why tonight. He may not be the most technical fighter and wasn’t the better fighter tonight, but the guy has heart. How he answered the bell after the end of first round, I don’t know. Not only that, but he really brought it to Lawler in the second. It was a damn shame the doctor stopped the fight after the inadvertent finger in the eye. They should have given him his five minutes and evaluated the situation from there. It could have been a classic and it’s a damn shame we weren’t afforded the opportunity to see it.
Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson
Kimbo Slice was tested tonight. Everyone thought James Thompson would get his chin tapped once and fall. It was the reason he was hand-picked to fight Kimbo in the first place. We all wanted to see if Kimbo was for real, and Thompson gave us our best glimpse yet. Thompson was on his way to winning the fight and sinking the EliteXC ship. I don’t know how but he never went down when Kimbo did land clean shots. My hat’s off to him for all the heart he showed tonight.
As for Kimbo, my initial reaction was that he was being exposed, but I quickly had to remind myself that this is a guy with very limited experience and time in the sport. He showed promise on the ground with a great sweep and even a kimura attempt. He was able to scramble to his feet a few times, but that can be attributed to his opponent’s lack of skills just as much as Kimbo’s ability to escape from the ground.
Kimbo was in a bad position at the end of second but survived. If that had been any good heavyweight on top of him, it would have been over. A big question mark moving forward for Kimbo will be his cardio. I trust Bas Rutten’s word that Kimbo trains his ass off, so I’m not sure it doesn’t have as much to do with a lack of conditioning work as it does his huge muscle mass. That kind of muscle requires a lot of oxygen and I wonder if that was the main culprit.
Of course, like the two fights before it this one had to end in controversy. The guys over at BloodyElbow.com are crying foul, as their senior editor was able to obtain the judge’s scorecards, with one judge giving the second round to Kimbo. I’m not going to go as far as saying the fight was fixed, but the stoppage sure did seem like there were favorites being played.
Dan Miragliotta should have let the fight go at least one more punch. Kimbo was probably going to drop Thompson, but the way the fight was going, maybe not. Either way, Kimbo did not look like the fighter EliteXC was building him up as. EliteXC expected a big KO in the first round and ended up with Kimbo looking like the inexperienced fighter he is. I understood why they put him in the main event on this card, but after tonight’s performance, there’s no way they can justify making him a headliner the next time around.
Kimbo has a long way to go before he can beat the likes of a Roy Nelson or Antonio Silva.
Post-Fight Press Conference Altercation
While I’m on the topic of Kimbo, apparently there was an altercation that broke out in the post-fight press conference between Kimbo and Brett Rogers.
During the post-fight press conference for EliteXC: “Primetime” on CBS, Brett Rogers questioned Kimbo Slice’s performance in his bout with James Thompson. Rogers had knocked out Jon Murphy previously during the night within one round. Rogers questioned Slice’s performance before Kimbo was even in the room but then repeated it once Slice had entered the press conference.
Slice shrugged it off at first and was cool about it but eventually Kimbo tried to step to Rogers and get in his face and a brawl almost broke out. People got in the middle and all of Kimbo’s crew were talking trash before the situation was diffused and Slice and his entourage left the press conference.
I wonder what they’re going to do with this situation. Brett Rogers was on the road to fighting Kimbo before this incident, but now are they going to be forced to make this fight next? If so, there’s a very good chance we’ll see Kimbo losing his next fight.
From what I saw tonight, I don’t think Kimbo has the skills yet to beat Rogers. They probably should make a fight with Tyson or Gannon if they plan on keeping this charade up, which is a bigger charade in of itself.
If MMA wants to be treated like a sport, it needs to act like one. That may be an unfair statement that not everyone should be grouped under, but I have yet to see a promotion that treats it that way, including the UFC, although EliteXC proved to be the biggest offender on the biggest and most important stage possible.
Besides a few shining moments—Carano & Young and Smith & Lawler—EliteXC proved they weren’t the right promotion to get such a tremendous opportunity. The shitty part is that MMA we’ll never get another chance to make a first impression. The mainstream media will likely eat tonight’s event alive and lump all of mixed martial arts in with it.
The MMA community was divided on whether or not Kimbo Slice is good for the sport. It turned out it wasn’t Kimbo that was bad for the sport, it was EliteXC.
I’m not a big Kimbo fan, but I hope there isn’t any blame laid on him, as he doesn’t deserve it. The blame should solely rest on Gary Shaw and EliteXC for tonight’s failures. Even if the ratings come back good, I’m not sure it will matter.
From everything I heard tonight, no one cares to tune back in for a second show, if there is a second show. And I wouldn’t blame them in the least.
EliteXC had a tremendous opportunity to be the number two promotion to the UFC and perhaps become a legitimate competitor.
They blew it. I just hope they didn’t blow mixed martial art’s chance to be mainstream.