Elite EX Debacle

October 6, 2008

I’ve got to tell you when I plugged the Elite XC show on CBS in my previous commentary and hinted at surprises, this is not what I meant. I had high hopes for this show, and while it started out great, boy did this show fall off the cliff, for Elite XC.

From my perspective I enjoyed the show. I’m the kind of fan that as long as they put on a couple decent fights, I’m pretty happy, but I would think from all the important business aspects of this show, this has to be considered an EPIC FAILURE.

The biggest disaster has to be the company not being able to produce the Main Event it promised. Ken Shamrock getting a cut over his eye, bad enough to require stitches, the afternoon of this show absolutely killed this show. Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock was the attraction CBS and Elite XC sold this show on. Despite not being a top-level fighter Kimbo Slice is the face of Elite XC, and their top draw. Kimbo Slice needs to be protected and Ken Shamrock was the perfect opponent for Kimbo in that he is well past his prime and as close to a house hold name as you get in MMA. Kimbo was well protected in this fight in that Ken has not looked good in any of his recent fights, so there was a good chance Kimbo would be able to score an early knockout and look strong in this fight, by beating a UFC Hall of Famer. Elite XC and Kimbo were protected even if Kimbo were to lose because they could attribute the Shamrock victory to his experience and status as a legend in this sport.

When they announced that Kimbo would be fighting Seth Petruzelli I became very nervous for Kimbo Slice and Elite XC. I knew very little about Seth Petruzelli but still figured he stood a good chance of defeating Kimbo Slice. This fight was a no win situation for Kimbo and Elite XC. If Kimbo wins he defeats a guy from the undercard no one (casual fans) has heard of, and if Petruzelli wins Kimbo is exposed and beaten by an undercard guy, and I doubt Petruzelli, based on this one fight, will becomes a Superstar.

What ended up happening was, in my opinion, the worst-case scenario for everyone involved. Kimbo looked and sounded defeated during his preflight promo and at that point I expected Kimbo to loss bad and quickly, which he did in spades. Kimbo looked so depressed and unfocussed during this interview, I’d almost think the dude gave up and took a dive. Kimbo was KO’ed in 14 seconds yet did not appear to take any real devastating shots. Petruzelli did not look like a destructive machine and dropped Kimbo with a rather unimpressive right hand.

To the casual fan Kimbo came off like a bum and Petruzelli came off not a whole lot better. I say this because I watched this show at my in-laws who I think represent the casual fan perspective well. They are not real fans but have seen a couple shows because of me. My father in-law all but laughed at the short fight and I guarantee you does not even remember Seth Petruzelli’s name.

To a slightly more educated fan, like myself, I thought the commentary didn’t help matters any. Mentioning that Seth was a former Ultimate Fighter participant just made him seem like more of a jobber to me. While many of the early Ultimate Fighter winners have gone on to be superstars most current winners go on to be successful midcard guys in UFC so this guy being one of the loser from the show made me think he wasn’t even good enough to compete in UFC, yet just killed Elite XC’s top draw in 14 seconds.

The Main Event wasn’t the only problem. I think the Andrei Arlovski vs. Roy Nelson fight was also a negative to the casual fan. Of the five people watching the show at my in-laws, I was the only one who did not laugh out loud at Roy Nelson and comment on how fat and out of shape he was. Unfortunately the general public has been educated to believe that abs represent strength and toughness and if you don’t look like Sly Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger, in their prime, you are out of shape and not a real fighter. Everyone expected this guy to lose quickly and when he lasted as long as he did I think they attributed it to Arlovski not being as good as they thought, rather than Nelson being any good.

I enjoyed the Jake Shields vs. Paul Daley fight enough but watching it I couldn’t help but think I was watching two very one dimensional fighters that would be eliminated early if they competed on TUF, yet this match was for an Elite XC Title. Shields did not appear to have any stand up and Daley looked completely lost on the ground, and in case casual fans didn’t notice this on their own, the announcers kept pointing it out to us.

I don’t think a single star was created in the three main event bouts and Kimbo’s drawing power may have been completely destroyed. Arlovski likely expanded his name value a little bit, getting the KO win on network television, but hardcore fans already know him and to casual fans he’s the guy who KO’ed the big fat guy.

The first two fights on the show were a completely different story. I loved the first fight between Murilo Ninja Rua and Benji Radach. In my opinion Radach came off very strong and I definitely want to see him fight again. Unlike Petruzelli in the Main Event, mentioning Ninja Rua’s UFC past paid off. Ninja competing in UFC gave him credibility, and after showing such an amazing chin in round one, Ninja came off like a real top-level fighter to me. With Radach being so strong and eventually knocking the very tough Rua out cold I was left feeling that he was the best fighter on the show.

The Carrano vs. Kobold fight was also very good and thankfully Elite XC dodged a bullet with a Carrano victory here and a Cyborg victory on the undercard. Carrano vs. Cyborg is likely the biggest fight Elite XC has left to market and had either of these women lost, that fight would have been out the window too.

A very bad night for CBS and Elite XC; it will be very interesting to see where they go from here because things do not look good. I think it’s safe to assume the biggest pop of the night came from Dana White’s house.

Lance Storm