EliteXC: Primetime Review

This is being billed as the biggest night in MMA history. Live from Newark, NJ, EliteXC presents Saturday Night Fights on CBS. The announcers for tonight’s action are Gus Johnson, Mauro Ranallo, and Frank Shamrock. That’s already an improvement from EliteXC on Showtime. Ranallo and Stephen Quadros don’t mesh well together so I’m glad one of them is gone. No Goldberg is also a blessing. Frank Shamrock runs down the rules of MMA for those new to the sport.

Busta Rhymes opens the show and it also serves as Brett Rogers’ ring entrance. Whatever. I’m more stoked to see that Big Black Security from Rob & Big are accompanying Rogers to the ring.

Brett Rogers vs. Jon Murphy (Heavyweight)
Referee: Dan Miragliotta

This is a good matchup as both men are heavy-handed. Murphy opens with a leg kick. They box into a clinch and exchange knees. Murphy pushes Rogers up against the cage and Rogers punches out of the clinch. They swing at close quarters and Rogers lands a right hand that puts Murphy down to all fours and the ref stops it. That one didn’t take long. Rogers sorta calls out Kimbo afterwards, but not to the extent that Gus Johnson wanted him to.
Winner – Brett Rogers by TKO at 1:01 of Round 1.

Phil Baroni vs. Joe Villasenor (Middleweight)
Referee: Dan Miragliotta

Baroni dances to the ring and proves why white people are given the stereotype of being bad dancers. How can Baroni still be the “New York Bad Ass” when he lives in Las Vegas and trains in California? The bell rings and Villasenor opens with a left high kick that is caught by Baroni. Baroni slams him down and slams down punches. Baroni wants no more of that and takes the fight back to their feet. Villasenor sprawls a Baroni takedown attempt that turns into a guillotine choke. Baroni never taps so he does his best to fight out of it. Baroni narrowly gets out but the choke wore him out. Villasenor lands a quick combo and Baroni goes down to an uppercut. The ref steps in and stops the fight.
Winner – Joe Villasenor by TKO at 1:11 of Round 1.

Gina Carano vs. Kaitlin Young (Women Don’t Tell Their Weight)
Referee: Kevin Mulhall

The actual weight designation was 140 lbs for this fight and Carano came in over the limit. She was deducted a percentage of her fight purse. Carano gets a huge reaction from the fans. Must be a “Fat Chick” crowd. Carano opens with some hard thrust kicks. Young tries a kick of her own and Carano catches it and then trips her down. Back to their feet and Carano lands a bomb and Young responds well to it. Up against the cage and Young scores a belly-to-belly takedown. Carano stalls the fight with her guard and the ref needs to stand this up because they aren’t even moving. Young fights out of it and gets to her feet. Carano is back up and they exchange kicks for the final twenty seconds of the round.

They strike to begin the second round and Young catches a kick and lands a solid knee to the body. Young tries a spin kick and gets caught with a jab when she comes back around. Young is showing a good chin but Carano is relentless. A combo from Carano follows and it is time for punches in bunches. Carano seems a little too fatigued to finish off her game opponent. A front kick to the body drops Young. Carano takes her back and goes for the rear naked choke with only 30 seconds left in the round. Young barely survives the round and is sporting a huge shiner under her eye. The doctors take a look at her and the fight is stopped before the third round can begin.
Winner – Gina Carano by TKO (Doctor Stoppage) at 3:00 of Round 2.

Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith (EliteXC Middleweight Title Bout)
Referee: Dan Miragliotta

This is scheduled for five rounds since the title is on the line. Smith comes out aggressive as Lawler is patient and avoiding Smith’s strikes. The crowd does not appreciate Lawler’s patience. Smith charges in and gets wobbled by a right jab. Lawler stalks and tries to look for an opening but it doesn’t come and they migrate to the center of the ring. Smith lands a nice high kick and Robbie starts swinging for the fences. Smith tries to counter and it feels like one punch is about to end this fight. Lawler dirty boxes a bit but Smith survives. A body kick from Lawler hurts Smith. Lawler is still patient even though Smith is clearly hurt. Another leg kick causes Smith to wince. Lawler lays it on Smith and the bell saves Smith. Seriously, one more second and Smith would not have made it.

Lawler goes for that liver shot again early in the second round. Smith has recovered a bit and starts to apply more pressure with leg kicks. Smith grabs a thai clinch and lands a couple of knees to Lawler. Smith roars back with heavy hands in a combination. Lawler weathers the storm and responds with a flurry of his own. F the crowd, this fight has been awesome. The fighters wearily throw punches against the cage. Smith gets some distance and fires off an elbow. They trade punches in a crazy defenseless exchange. Someone is bleeding but there is blood on both men’s foreheads from the inside fighting. Smith charges in with another kick as the round comes to a close.

The prefight comparison to the Griffin-Bonnar fight by Mauro Ranallo is turning out to be on point. There doesn’t seem to be any intentions for this fight to go to the ground from either fighter. Smith stands in the center of the ring as Lawler circles. A right hand by Smith puts Lawler’s back against the cage. Lawler has a nice cut on the top of his forehead and Smith is bleeding atop the bridge of his nose. These are two tired fighters and Lawler’s mouth is wide open. Lawler shoots in and Smith sprawls. He transitions to Lawler’s back but Lawler slips it and grabs Smith’s back. They get to their feet and separate. Lawler accidentally pokes Smith in the eye and the fight is paused so Smith can recover. The ring doctor checks Smith’s eye and stops the fight?!?! Smith is irate. Lawler isn’t happy either and Smith is still trying to petition for a restart. His efforts are to no avail and the crowd is pissed. I thought they didn’t even like this fight? It turns out to be a terrible end to what was already a fantastic battle of wills. A rematch between these two seems inevitable. The doctor explains that Smith told the doctor he couldn’t see and doctors don’t like to hear that and that’s why she stopped it. Since the fight did not exceed three rounds, it would not be judged by the scorecards. Gary Shaw, EliteXC promoter, says a rematch will happen and both men will be paid their win bonuses for fighting valiantly.
Winner – No Contest at 3:26 of Round 3.

Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson (Heavyweight)
Referee: Dan Miragliotta

This one shouldn’t last long. Dan Miragliotta is getting a lot of airtime tonight. Kimbo has manscaped chest hair and a posse bigger than that of Wyatt Earp. How can you not like this guy? The bell rings and Thompson charges at Kimbo. They clinch and Kimbo lands some knees. Thompson takes Kimbo down (!) and goes for ground-and-pound. Kimbo gets to his feet at his first opportunity but Thompson takes him back down. Thompson to side control and Kimbo gets up. Kimbo seems like a tough guy to keep down. Thompson keeps the clinch as Thompson locks in a guillotine choke. Kimbo is not getting out of it. He assures the ref he is okay and knees Thompson while being choked. The choke must not be very deep. Kimbo finally creates distance but Thompson’s gameplan is obviously to not have distance. Thompson charges in and Kimbo fights it off and winds up taking Thompson to the ground. They scramble and Thompson winds up on top of Kimbo. Thompson gets a crucifix position on Kimbo and looks for a kimura. This isn’t good for Kimbo. Kimbo sweeps out of it and winds up on top of Thompson. Nice transition.

Kimbo rips off a body shot to start the second off of a shoot attempt by Thompson. Kimbo lands a hook that wobbles Thompson. Thompson wants to take this back to the ground. He does so and a guillotine transitionfest takes place from both men. The fight goes nowhere after that and the ref stands them up. Kimbo lands a one-two and Thompson looks horrible. An uppercut lands that makes Thompson look even worse. A desperation double-leg takedown buys Thompson more time. Kimbo obviously needs to work on his takedown defense. Thompson pins one of Kimbo’s arms down with his knee and lands unanswered elbows repeatedly. There is no way the ref will stop this fight although he should given the amount of unanswered shots received from Thompson. They aren’t damaging shots but Kimbo isn’t doing anything about it. The bell finally saves Kimbo but this lasted for over a minute.

Kimbo has landed some good shots and I’m surprised that Thompson hasn’t been knocked out given the history of his chin. Kimbo is weary starting the 3rd round. Kimbo comes with an overhand right that pops Thompson’s cauliflower ear and blood is streaming from the side of his face. Kimbo lands some more shots that wobble Thompson and the ref stops it. HA! Thompson was hurt but he had been in more danger at earlier points in the fight. This was a gift from the ref. The fight should have been stopped when Kimbo wasn’t defending himself in the second round but it wasn’t. Thompson should have been allowed to continue in the third. He even took a little shot at the ref after the stoppage. Nice job, Zab Judah. Kimbo looked like a tired old man after the fight.
Winner – Kimbo Slice by TKO at 0:38 of Round 3.

Final Thoughts

The overall success of this show was mostly put on the shoulders of Kimbo Slice. He didn’t give the dominating performance that was expected and showed a terrible takedown defense and little stamina. Whether his performance was good enough to make casual viewers want to tune in again will be answered whenever he fights again. Smith and Lawler had the fight of the night and it’s a shame it ended in the fashion that it did. Villasenor looked good but he really had nothing to prove. Carano put on a good performance and probably had her lackluster conditioning to thank for it. She likely would have finished the fight earlier if she was in the shape she wanted to be in. Brett Rogers can make a case for heavyweight superiority as he knocked out Jon Murphy and can also claim to have dispatched James Thompson in much more convincing fashion than Kimbo. Match those two up. Kimbo is too old to be taken along slowly and Rogers will get a nice rub if he can be the one to take Kimbo out.

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