“CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS”
FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE CALL QUOTES
THURSDAY, May 29, 2008,
Spotlight Live, New York City
Incredibly popular Kimbo Slice, of Perrine, Fla., will face England’s James “Colossus” Thompson in the main event in one of five fights on the inaugural “CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS” this Saturday, May 31 (9-11 p.m. ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The history-making, first-ever mixed martial event in primetime on network television will be presented by Los Angeles-based Pro Elite, Inc.’s live fight division, EliteXC, from the Prudential Center at Newark, N.J.
In other televised fights: Crowd-pleasing EliteXC middleweight champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler of St. Louis defends against hard-hitting Scott Smith of Sacramento, Calif.; talented unbeaten Gina Carano of Las Vegas will face confident, hard-hitting Kaitlin Young of Circle Pines, Minn., in a women’s fight at 140 pounds, exciting, charismatic Phil Baroni of Long Island, N.Y., meets determined, hard-nosed Joey Villasenor of Albuquerque, N.M. in a 185-pound scrap and undefeated, power-punching Brett Rogers of Minneapolis takes on the versatile Jon Murphy of Philadelphia in a heavyweight match.
Tickets for the live event start at $25 and are available at Ticketmaster locations, by phone (201) 507-8900, online at www.ticketmaster.com and at the Prudential Center box office (973) 757-6625. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. ET. The first live fight is at 6:30.
GARY SHAW, EliteXC Live Events President
“I want to thank everybody for being here. Saturday, at 9 p.m., on CBS is going to be a tremendous, historic night for mixed martial arts and EliteXC is proud to present it to the millions and millions watching on television and live in attendance. No one is going to be disappointed. CBS, its announcers, the production team, all of us at ProElite and EliteXC, the fight team, could not be happier or more excited.
A special thanks to Ken Hershman (Senior Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports Programming, Matt Blanc (Chief Executive Officer, SHOWTIME) and SHOWTIME – without them, none of this would have been possible.
I also want to thank the press for the outstanding job they have done for this mega event. We are on the front pages of sports sections. The turnout here is outstanding. So, thanks to all of you.
I would have our fighters fight with another organization. I have said all along, the UFC is a fine organization. They are nice people. They put on some of the finest fights in the world, but it is not the only organization that has fine fighters or fights.
We will hopefully announce the next CBS fight on Saturday. There are two parts of it – it is CBS programming making sure it doesn’t conflict with any other commitments and it is us getting the right venue. Those are the two things we are working on right now. I can tell you it will be late summer to very early fall. (But) Pray for us for Saturday first.
Ticket sales are at about 7,000 right now. We are happy about it. In-arena ticket sales may be hurt because of the area and because it is going to be on primetime television. I think we have done such a spectacular job talking about CBS that it is almost like people want to stay home and watch it on CBS and have a party.
Roughly 96 percent of the CBS affiliates are showing the fight card. Every major market is showing the fight.
It won’t be much different of a format. For us, we have been on SHOWTIME which is a network that is advertising free. We will roll out the show in the same manner, but will have commercial breaks. The in-arena atmosphere will be high energy and entertaining. Commercials will be the only difference. We are not going to cut away right before a knock out.”
DOUG DELUCA, Executive Chairman, ProElite, Inc.
“First of all, I want to thank my wife and my baby in the first row. Without them, I wouldn’t be on this wild ride with Gary and Kelly (Kahl, Senior Executive Vice President, CBS Primetime). Thank you to all the press. I am an entertainment guy myself, so to see all of the support for this sport in its shining moment is an amazing thing. This is being broadcast in many other countries. We are in for one hell of a night. You know in a business when the team is gelling. Everybody is working like a team.
Gary said most of the thank yous, but I want to say a big thank you to our partners, SHOWTIME and, now, CBS, who have thrown all the guns at this. You see the press this is getting. You see the promos surrounding the event. They (both) promised they would be a true partner and they have been a true partner. Everyone is really in for a treat. It is really going to be a special event. I am as excited as Gary. This is a first-class announce team. This team is excited. They are working overtime on their own. They know they sport. They are meeting with the athletes.
I always say when I talk about broadcasting how the NFL taught viewers how to watch football. We are going to help the viewers who not-yet fans of MMA, tell them about MMA and draw them in. Anyone who gives it a chance will fall in love with the sport and be compelled by it.
The huge thanks is to our fighters. They put so much pressure on themselves each time they compete. The pressure that this event has added to these guys, I don’t envy. They are all doing it with smiles. My hat is off to you guys. A heartfelt thanks for a great event. Win, lose or draw, you are all champs.
The ProElite team has been working hard for over a year. We promised that it would come together and it will come together on Saturday night. I hope to see all of your there and thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“The first time I introduced Kimbo, I was introducing him as a YouTube sensation with over 10 million hits. I knew he was a star then. I knew he could be a superstar. There are great basketball players, but nothing like Michael Jordan. There are great golfers, but nothing like Tiger Woods. Every once in a while there is someone who crosses over that line to a superstar. You just know. When Mike Tyson walked in, the place erupted. When someone else walked in there were only a few claps. Well, Kimbo Slice is a superstar. He is probably the most recognizable name in all of MMA. On May 31, when he gets in the cage, he will be the single most known face of MMA.
(UFC’s) Dana White will be at home watching us on CBS. When he rips Kimbo Slice, it only proves he is an idiot. When he says that BJ Penn is the best fighter in the whole family and can knock out Kimbo Slice, the DEA should raid his home. I know BJ Penn would never say that and is probably embarrassed. Although BJ Penn is the best fighter in the family, he’s not the smartest Penn (JD, his brother, is an executive at EliteXC).
If you want to do something good for the sport, you should support CBS. Whether Kimbo has two fights, or six, he is raising the tide of MMA. All ships rise with the tide. The fighters on this card have said it. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. He trains with Bas Rutten. If you train with him, you are a real fighter. Randy (Khatami), the whole camp you see, are not paid by Kimbo. They are a family. He is first class. He is the closest thing I know to Tyson. He has an off and off switch. When he is off, you would have him baby sit your kids without a second thought. When it is on, someone is in trouble for sure.
Kimbo has a complex side to him as well. He is intelligent. He is well-read, well-versed. He is street through and through. He has not forgotten where he came from. On the bus ride over here, he told me he bought two 26-inch TVs and is going to give them to someone needy in the work area in Newark. He wants to leave Newark with a positive impression. It not only says something about Kimbo but the MMA family. I am telling you, Kimbo Slice is real.
We are up for the challenge in a cage. When this is over, you will be proud that Kimbo has represented MMA. You will be proud he is a family man and has taken care of his kids. You will find when the story is over that Kimbo rose to the occasion as a standup guy. He is our franchise player right now. The guys that has helped us more than he knows. I have called upon him more than any other athlete.”
“I don’t have much to say. I was to thank CBS and EliteXC. CBS rules.
I don’t feel like all the pressure is on me to perform a certain way. Not at all.
I don’t underestimate any fighter. Just because he has lost a couple fights, doesn’t mean he isn’t going to come out strong.”
“It is a wonderful opportunity for me. I have come in nice and quiet and I am looking forward to it. It has been a long time coming to get on CBS. I am very lucky and I look forward to making the most of it.”
“I don’t have much to say. I’m ready to fight. It is nice to be on CBS. I am going to put on a show.”
SCOTT “HANDS OF STEEL” SMITH
“I have to thank my family and friends. They have followed me from Vegas to Miami to Ireland and now to New Jersey. They support and believe in me. They know what I am capable of and now it is time to show the fans that tune into CBS. This fight is a dream fight for me. Robbie is an exciting fighter and a great champion, but I believe that I can be a champion. These guys are awesome. Once again, this is a fight I would buy on pay-per-view to watch. It is great that everyone will be able to see it. Thanks to CBS for allowing me to be a part of it.”
“I would like to thank my fans, all the people that have supported me and God. I think Kaitlin is a great opponent for me. (We’re going to) blow the (heck) of our women’s MMA. I appreciate everyone’s support and I hope the fight goes well. I’m ready. Let’s do it.
It depends on the day if I feel pressure. Sometimes I feel pressure. Sometimes it depends on the hour. Sometimes I say ‘forget about the pressure.’ I am just another human being that is living and doing the best I can. I am doing surprisingly well today. I am looking forward to the fight. I want to get this fight over and jump into the gym and train for the next one.
I think Kaitlin is going to be one of my tougher matchups. I think this is going to be a very big test of what I am capable of doing. I hope it comes out good. You can only hope for the best.”
“I want to thank EliteXC, CBS and ProElite. I think it will be a great fight. We bring out the best in each other. I think that women’s MMA has been overlooked in other leagues until EliteXC came around. I am really excited and honored. I have trained harder for this fight than I ever have. I’m excited to put on a good fight for you on Saturday night.”
“I want to say what an honor it is for a veteran like me to fight on such a big card. We are making history, not only for MMA and EliteXC, but for my family. From that night on, my family lives forever. That gives me nothing but great pride. They are going to have a chance to see all of us fighters. Everyone is going to have a chance to see us, family men and real people. It is a chance to get new fans out there. I can’t wait to perform on Saturday. I feel like I am at my best. What an honor.”
“I am just a fighter. I am here to fight. Once I step in the cage, I am just here to fight no matter how many TV’s are on it.
“I am ready to stomp this guy. He knows it and I know it.”
“I just want to thank Gary and EliteXC, ProElite and CBS. I have been doing this for five years or so and I am glad to be a part of it. We had always hoped that it would get to this level. It is going to gain a lot of fans. I am looking forward to Saturday’s fight.
I am excited to have the first fight. It is a good way to set the tone. When Brett and I go out there and have a great fight, we will set the tone for the evening.
Being on network TV is a huge step for all that is happening in MMA. It is going to be showing to the widest audience possible. It is obviously going to pick up more fans. It is perfect for me.
Brett’s a big, strong guy. He fights hard. He is a pretty athletic guy from what I have seen. I think our styles match up perfectly and it is going to be a great fight. Of course, I am going to win. I don’t predict, I just go and fight. This is the best shape I have been in, so I am ready to rock.
I donated 15 inches of my hair to “Locks of Love” back on Jan. 1. That is pretty much why I grew it in the first place – two and a half years worth.”
I would like to thank EliteXC for allowing me to be a part of this. This is real big thing to be on CBS. I have been fighting for five or six years. I never thought I’d be here today. I’d like to thank my family, friends and sponsors. We are the first show and I know it will be exciting.
It means a lot to be the first fight on such a big night. I’m thankful that EliteXC is even allowing me a chance. I am respectful for that. But I’ve been working hard and deserve this. I am definitely going to take my time and win each fight.
I predict our fight is going to be stand and bang unless he decides he wants to take me to the ground. If he wants to hold me, I might play into his game, but I say I win by KO.
It’s funny. Every time Kimbo has fought, I’ve been on the same fight card. I have my views on it, but it is good because everyone wants to see the show. He is the highlight right now. At least people can see me too and I can catch the eyes of the fans. Once I get to his level, there will be no surprises. Everyone will know what I am capable of doing and they will love what they see.”
GUS JOHNSON, Play-By-Play Announcer
“I’d like to say it’s an honor to work with these artists from the world of mixed martial arts. They are truly real, live warriors. I think we all can learn a lot from their passion, commitment and dedication. This is a sport that has to be given the proper credit for shows like this. These great artists will start to gain recognition nationally and internationally with this broadcast on CBS.
I have had an opportunity to call a lot of major national events with the National Football League on CBS, the NCAA Tournament and I am the voice of the Knicks. I have had a chance to call boxing at Madison Square Garden at a very high level. I have had the opportunity to train as a boxer, to study as a kung fu artist, and most recently to take up jiu-jitsu.
This sport is the sport of the future. It takes a very intelligent person to be able to fight in so many different ways whether that be standing or a jiu-jitsu man using guillotines. This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved. I love this sport and it is a rising sport for kids of all ages, especially that 15-22 demographic. I believe there are jiu-jitsu academies and martial art studios popping up all over the county because of it. I really believe mixed martial arts and, hopefully EliteXC, will lead the way to a whole new era in American sports.”
“I certainly know what it feels like to throw some kicks and punches. I’ve done all that stuff. I am honored to be the commentator for this momentous event. Mixed martial arts is a lifestyle. It’s an art form. It is a mini-movement in the USA and around the world. For some reason right now, making a living through fighting and having a purpose for that and representing your family, your community, yourself in a professional fashion has just become fashionable and I appreciate that. I have been that guy for some time. I plan to call it like I see it. I plan to put my special flavor on it, which is to tell the truth. I am proud to be part of such an amazing movement at such an amazing time. Hopefully, I have some good years left in me. It is an honor to be here. Thank you for this.”
“I want to thank ProElite and everyone involved. I want to thank SHOWTIME and of course the people at CBS for having the foresight to bring the greatest sport to the forefront. I am deeply honored and thrilled to be a part of this landmark event. I have been a fan of Gus Johnson for many years. I think we have the same passion and intensity. I know he is going to be tremendous for this sport. Of course, Frank Shamrock is a pioneer in the sports of MMA, an entertainer and definitely one of the most educated people when it comes to articulating our sport. I think it is up to me and the other commentators to tell the story of all of these tremendous athletes up here. They are all intelligent, all educated, all of them champions in there specialty whether it is judo, boxing. It is a dawn of a new era in mixed martial arts. I had the opportunity to commentate in Japan where there were 35,000-40,000 people in the stands and they were front page the next day. It is about time that MMA is front page news for the right reasons here. We are all going to entertain and educate. These fighters are going to put on one hell of a show. Enjoy the show. Thank you very much.”
“Thank you, Gary and Ken. I was so glad someone came and asked me to do this. This is going to be amazing. I have been a fan of this sport for several years. This is the wave of the future. This is the sport of right now. We already get along great, the announce team. I think the enthusiasm, passion and love we have for this sport will really show. I am really glad to see Gina and Kaitlyn here. I’m glad there are women on the card. It is really a thrill to see that and introduce people to the sport. ‘We’ love fighting just as much as the guys. I think it is going to be a win-win for everyone. I’m pleased, thrilled. I’ve been a MTV vee-jay, I’ve sat behind the desk at CNN. I love this job. It’s a blast. Thank you again for giving me the opportunity. I think it is going to be great.”
NICK LEMBO, NJ Sports Commission
“There is a middle school here where we used to have MMA shows. Within six years, we’ve gone from middle school to primetime network television on CBS. I think it is great for the sport. I’m very glad Gary selected New Jersey as the host venue. It’s a huge moment for the sport.”
JOY GULLEDGE, Prudential Center
“On behalf of ownership at the AEG facility. I am happy to be here. We are a very new building and are excited to ride the wave of excitement surrounding MMA. We are looking forward to an exciting event. We hope to see everyone there.”
Tags: Frank Shamrock, Gina Carano, Kimbo Slice, Mixed Martial Arts, Phil Baroni, Robbie Lawler, Scott Smith