EliteXC: Primetime Preview

Mixed martial arts debuts on primetime television this Saturday with the aptly named EliteXC: Primetime. EliteXC has made its home on Showtime but is stepping into unchartered territory in the MMA world by bringing their brand of fighting to CBS. The show airs live starting at 9 pm ET and features a Middleweight title bout in addition to the much hyped main event featuring Kimbo Slice. Five matchups in all for the night and all are primarily matchups of stand-up fighters. Hopefully we will see more depth to the show than just five boxing matches.

Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson vs. James Thompson
Money Line: Ferguson -600; Thompson +400

Kimbo certainly has an undeniable aura surrounding him. He fights with an intensity and furor that has endeared him to fight fans and drawn comparisons to Mike Tyson. His hype has drawn the ire of experienced MMA fighters as he has been protected since his entrance into MMA just six months ago. James Thompson appears to be a set-up for Kimbo as his style is tailor-made for the streetfighter. Thompson is himself a brawler but has a glass chin. He really doesn’t have the credentials to be in a main event of this magnitude as his last fight was a knockout loss to Brett Rogers, a heavyweight that is opening the show.

The fight itself will likely last no more than 15 seconds. Thompson is known for sprinting at his opponent at the opening bell and it won’t take Kimbo long to put the Englishman own. Thompson won’t be the type to test Kimbo’s unknown ground game, another reason he was selected as the opponent. Nothing new will be learned about Kimbo from this fight but the hype machine will continue to roll.

Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith (EliteXC Middleweight Title)
Money Line: Lawler -225; Smith +195

Lawler is a good wrestler which may come into play in this fight. Scott Smith is all power as evidenced by his dramatic one-punch KO of Pete Sell during their Ultimate Fighter Finale bout. Smith was also a winner in his last fight at EliteXC: Street Certified by knocking out Kyle Noke with one punch. Lawler prefers to stand but would be wise to take this one down to the ground and work for a submission. Lawler has been improving dramatically since hooking up with Matt Hughes. He dominated Ninja Rua to capture the Middleweight title and did so by out-striking him.

Both men will be looking to put on a good show so I’m sure Lawler will attempt to knockout Smith instead of taking the fight to the mat. That could be trouble as one punch from Smith could end the fight. Lawler won’t simply sit there and let Smith hit him so I expect Lawler to use his quickness and frustrate Smith. The title makes this a five round fight but that round won’t be seen. Decisions don’t happen in EliteXC. Lawler will get Smith to the mat and ground and pound him into a submission when Smith gives up his back.

Gina Carano vs. Kaitlin Young
Money Line: Carano -350; Young +275

Not only is Gina Carano the queen of MMA, she’s also an American Gladiator. Fortunately for Young this matchup won’t be contested in the Gladiator Arena. I hear that Carano is unstoppable in the Joust. Perhaps unfortunately for Young, the fight will be contested in the EliteXC cage where Carano is undefeated. Like Kimbo, EliteXC wants to protect their star in Carano. I won’t pretend to know the background of Kaitlin Young but she is coming off of her first loss in her last fight. Before losing that fight via armbar, Young had rattled off four straight first round knockouts.

All the Carano fights I have seen end up with her knocking her opponent down and then controlling her opponent on the mat. There is no reason for me to believe this fight will be any different. I’m sure EliteXC hopes for a reprise of Carano’s first fight for the company in which her fight stole the show. That could be a possibility here but I’d rather see Carano against Shayna Baszler or Tara Larosa should EliteXC sign her. I predict Carano to score a second round rear naked choke.

Phil Baroni vs. Joey Villasenor
Money Line: Baroni -105; Villasenor -125

Phil Baroni, everyone’s favorite interview, stops talking (presumably) for a few minutes to take on veteran EliteXC middleweight Joey Villasenor. Seriously, can EliteXC put on a show without Villasenor? The company has been around for a little over a year and this will be Villasenor’s fifth fight. Villasenor is a well-rounded fighter who has never seemed to be able to take that next step into becoming a top-flight fighter. He will have his hands full with Baroni who does his best to live up to his “New York Bad Ass” nickname. Baroni wants to knock a fighter’s head off and prefers to pass out rather than tap out when being choked.

As the money line shows this is a tough fight to call. Baroni has the power advantage but Villasenor seems to take his craft a little more seriously than does Baroni. Villasenor is good on his feet but Baroni will look to brawl with him, thus negating any technical boxing skills that Villasenor tries to use. Villasenor would be wise to take things down to the ground but Baroni isn’t that bad of a wrestler. This fight is a toss-up but I’m going with Baroni by knockout in the first round.

Brett Rogers vs. Jon Murphy
Money Line: Rogers -280; Murphy +220

As mentioned in the main event preview, Brett Rogers has a win over James Thompson yet finds himself opening the show. Rogers is a heavyweight prospect that EliteXC is bringing along slowly even though he may be ready for the next level. Rogers is a big, powerful fighter that likes to stand with his opponents. See the theme for this show? Murphy isn’t a slouch as he won a valiant fight in his lone fight for EliteXC during one of their ShoXC programs. I remember Murphy knocking his opponent out cold in the second round after a back-and-forth opening stanza.

Murphy showed an ability to take punishment in his last fight but Rogers isn’t exactly the kind of fighter you want to continiuously absorb shots from. Murphy has a lot of heart and that will certainly be tested against the bigger, more powerful man. EliteXC has big hopes for Rogers and this fight has all the makings of a coming out party. Rogers will TKO Murphy with strikes towards the tail end of the first round.

Stay with Inside Fights for a full review of the action Saturday night.

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