In the MMA world, this show needs no introduction. But in the sports world, it probably does. Elite XC is putting on the first prime time network MMA show. No, the UFC didn’t beat them to the punch. This show needs to be successful for the good of the sport and they are putting all of their money on Kimbo Slice to help them draw the necessary ratings.
Gus Johnson, Mauro Ranallo, and Frank Shamrock are the commentators.
There was a nice little lead in for the fighters where each person fighting tonight was introduced in a pre-recorded deal, but it was a little less than what I’d have expected. It was a bit subdued.
They are pushing the arts in martial arts fairly hard, though Shamrock said that anyone could punch you or choke you to death, talking specifically to the home viewers. He also looks very nervous in the booth.
I know why they did it, but I didn’t like the long intro. I think they should’ve gone to a fight first and during the first fight, do a bit of educating, and then talk about the sport and tell the viewer what they are watching after. You could’ve put Phil Baroni and Joe Villasenor in there knowing that Baroni just swings away and gasses early to start the show off with a bang.
What I do think are cool and necessary are the quick educational segments with Shamrock explaining some of the terms and what the viewer should expect to see. Still, we’re a good 12 minutes into the show and we haven’t even talked about one fight yet. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
Jon Murphy vs. Brett Rogers is opening the show. I’m not sure about that decision. Even to the hardcore MMA fans, these guys aren’t that well known. I can’t imagine the regular viewer is interested in this show based on this fight, which I’m sure they are hoping to be a slugfest. Brett Rogers looks like Mr. T with Tracy Morgan’s face. I also wonder if some of the general audience thinks that Rogers is Kimbo Slice. Not that they look similar facially, but I could see someone looking at the hulking guy with the crazy haircut and wondering if that is Slice.
Busta Rhymes raps Rogers’ introduction.
Immediately, you can tell that Gus Johnson is a newbie in the MMA game and he’s going to depend on Ranallo and Shamrock. But Johnson has a big memorable voice and at the end of the day, he’s the right guy for the job if EXC does well and there are future shows.
Brett Rogers vs. Jon Murphy
Rogers is trying to let the hands go, but Murphy gets him in a clinch and they go towards the cage. Rogers is using dirty boxing and having his way with him up against the cage. Back in the middle, Rogers cold cocks Murphy and he goes down like a sack of potatoes. The referee stops the fight immediately and first fight in, we have a first round knock out.
Winner: Brett Rogers by way of first round TKO.
I guess CBS knows what they’re doing and that’s why I’m not booking MMA fights.
Ranallo and now Johnson have pushed the idea of putting Rogers together with Slice.
Joe Villasenor vs. Phil Baroni
Baroni is laughing in the face of steroid testing with that body that he has right now.
Baroni catches Villasenor’s leg and takes him down and tries the ground and pound, but Villasenor is back on his feet. Villasenor takes a left hook and is rocked. The camera missed it too. Villasenor locks in a guillotine and Baroni is fighting it. He’s out of the guillotine but takes more shots and the referee steps in. He was out on his feet.
Winner: Joe Villasenor by way of first round TKO.
Gina Carano is next against Kaitlyn Young. Carano came in over weight and it wasn’t close. She’s going to have to forfeit some of her purse. I’d imagine that in the cage, Carano is going to have an even larger size advantage. And for those that don’t know, Carano might be better known to the casual audience as Crush from The American Gladiators. Both of these girls are the real deal.
The last time Ranello was announcing a fight with Carano in the cage, he made a joke about her being in contact with his “pole” that didn’t go over well with some of the more uptight fight fans.
Gina Carano vs. Kaitlyn Young
These women are throwing right out of the gate. Carano takes her down and then picks her back up. Carano lands a big right hand and right now, the size difference looks to be a plus for Carano. Young takes her down and Carano goes into guard with one leg in front of Young’s throat and the other on her back, as if she’s trying a gogoplata. Back up, they go back to the striking with the feet. Carano’s reach advantage is telling. But she also looks very winded. Carano’s round.
These are three minute rounds. Young is wailing away with her kicks, but Carano is having her way with the boxing. Young is hurt, but Carano might be too tired to take advantage of it. Young eats another jab and staggers again. Carano is using a front kick and left jab combination. She drops her with a front kick and pounces on her for the rear naked choke attempt. She might get saved by the bell with only 30 seconds left. Carano sinks it in, but Young won’t tap. Young’s face is a mess. She has a big shiner underneath her left eye. And the doctor is stopping the fight. Young’s eye is right out of a horror flick.
Winner: Gina Carano by way of second round TKO.
Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith are next, and in my opinion, this is probably the best fight on paper. Both guys like to slug it out and on a competitive level, this is probably the one fight where there isn’t a decided favorite. Lawler is probably a slight favorite as the middleweight champion, but Smith can definitely win here. Both guys are former UFC middleweights and I bet Dana White wouldn’t mind having both of these guys as possible fights for Anderson Silva. I think I see Matt Hughes in Lawler’s corner.
Scott Smith vs. Robbie Lawler:
The fight starts slow compared to the other three fights as both guys are measuring each other. Smith tries a superman punch and gets caught with what looks to be a counter right hand, but Lawler can’t follow up on it. Lawler looks comfortable, but he’s almost too loose. His hands are a little low. Smith catches him with a kick and tries to follow up with it, but Lawler’s hands are faster and he’s countering very well. Smith’s punches are straight while Lawler’s are loopy and powerful. Lawler follows up with a kick and a right hand that scores. Smith looks like he’s hurt, but Lawler doesn’t bite. He’s still taking his time. He’s throwing kicks and punches, but everything is hard and with bad intentions. Smith is saved by the bell and staggers back to his corner. Great round for Lawler.
Lawler scores with a straight left that Smith just eats. Smith is starting to be the aggressor leading with kicks. Smith locks Lawler in a clinch and throws two knees that land and Lawler is now on the defensive. Smith is throwing rights and lefts and Lawler is trying to just bob and weave. He grabs the back of Smith’s head and starts tagging him with lefts. These guys are crazy. Both guys look tired but there’s still two minutes left in the round. Smith lands a right elbow. Smith takes two huge punches. It looks like both guys are bleeding. You could give either guy that round but I might slightly lean towards Smith. That was the best round of any MMA fight so far this year.
Lawler is trying to set up the big left hand while it looks like Smith is trying to set up a high kick. Smith lands a superman punch, but Lawler shakes it off. Lawler is trying to land elbows to the forehead. Lawler lands a right/left combo that staggers Smith. Smith doesn’t look like he’s able to avoid getting hit. Lawler shoots in for the takedown but Smith sprawls and it’s a stalemate. Smith gets a finger in the eye and there’s a timeout in the action. Smith wants to fight, but it is stopped. This was well on its way to fight of the year and if I were to bet money, on one of the next EXC cards, we’ll see a rematch.
Winner: No contest
This show is already over the allotted time.
James Thompson vs. Kimbo Slice
Thompson jumps the gun. He shoots in, trying to take Slice down and he’s successful. Slice is back up, but Thompson takes him down again. Thompson has one leg out of Slice’s guard and is now in side control. They are back up again as Slice gets out. Thompson has a guillotine but it doesn’t look tight. Slice is trying to throw knees to the thigh and finally pops his head out. Slice tries a right hand, but Thompson trips him and he nearly falls over, but they go to the ground anyway and Slice is on top. Now Thompson is on top and Slice is in trouble. Thompson has him in the little brother, but Slice reverses it and is now on top. Thompson gives up his back. Nope, he goes for a kimura. The round is over and you probably have to give that one to Thompson.
Thompson shoots but Kimbo throws a body shot and Thompson backs up. Slice is starting to throw big shots and Thompson shoots again, but Slice sprawls. Now Thompson is going for knee lifts. Slice tries for a guillotine and gets it, but Thompson gets out of it and is now on top and in side control. They get stood up and Slice starts wailing with wild punches. Thompson shoots in as a panic move and gets the double leg. Slice is on his back again. Thompson is dropping elbows on Slice’s head. Slice is up against the cage with no where to go. If Thompson had anything on these punches, the fight could be stopped. Shamrock says that Slice doesn’t know jiu jitsu basics to get out of it. That’s Thompson’s round again.
Slice opens with a big right hand. Thompson’s ear is busted open and bleeding. After another right hand, the referee stops the fight. Wow. You have to give Thompson a chance. He was winning the fight. The ear looked gruesome, but still. That was an early stoppage. It was about four big punches that caused the stoppage, but Thompson threw one punch in his own defense. I still think it was stopped at least two or three punches early.
Winner: Kimbo Slice by way of third round TKO
Other than the fact they went way over the alloted time (at least according to my DVR guide), all five fights were entertaining. The last fight was the worst, but you knew it wasn’t going to be anything but lumbering. I actually liked most of the coverage including the announcing team. Some of the camera work was a little slow in the transitions. But overall it was a strong card.