Elite XC Network Television Debut Review
Live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, Elite XC made history tonight with the primetime network television debut of MMA on CBS. Only time will tell what this means for the sport of MMA and Elite XC but when UFC debuted The Ultimate Fighter [TUF] on Spike television in 2005, it did the sport and company wonders.
Rogers vs. Murphy
First on the card were heavyweights Jon Murphy fighting out of Pennsylvania, and Brett Rogers from Minnesota who had a rap entrance song performed live by Busta Rhymes. Coming into the fight Rogers was undefeated at 6-0 with 5 knockouts, and Murphy had 4 wins with 3 knockouts. They came out swinging and Rogers landed some big shots, dropping Murphy and causing a ref stoppage. This was a good stoppage as Murphy was rocked for awhile. Not sure if the rap entrance played a factor, but it couldn’t have hurt.
Baroni vs. Villasenor
Phil Baroni did what he does best – come out swinging. Baroni caught a kick and took Joey Villasenor down. As the fighters traded strikes they worked back to their feet and Villasenor landed a solid left hook that dazed Baroni, Villasenor had Baroni in a deep choke but couldn’t finish it, letting go finishing Baroni with strikes.
Villasenor took the fight in the first round with a TKO victory. This was his 3rd victory in a row.
In his post fight interview he talks about grabbing a beer and grabbing a front row seat to the Scott Smith vs. Robbie Lawler 185 title fight later on the card as he positions himself at the top of the Elite XC 185 division.
Carano vs. Young
Gina Carano returned to action and put her undefeated record on the line when she took on Kaitlin Young in 3 x 3 minute rounds.
There is a lot of talk about Carano not being able to dedicate as much time to training as she’d like. She failed to make weight and stopped sweating when she was still about 4 pounds over (for this Young gets about 12% of Carano’s purse). Carano has Hollywood aspirations and is CRUSH on the new American Gladiators series; this leads me to wonder if she’s just not focused on MMA any more – Has the sport lost its poster girl to Hollywood?
In contrast, Young – a former construction worker – is an accomplished kick boxer with very dangerous strikes and strong work ethic. She has progressed very fast in the few years she’s been competing in MMA, starting with winning the 8 woman Hook N Shoot tournament and all 4 of her victories were by knockout.
In the first round Carano came out throwing a lot of front kicks and got a takedown. As they worked their way to their feet, Young pushed Carano to the cage and got the takedown. Eventually they got back to their feet and traded a lot of kicks. It was a high energy, action filled first round – definitely a tough round to score.
Young started the 2nd round with a barrage of solid shots that made Carano show the effects of a 3 week training camp. Halfway through the round Carano fought back and landed some hard shots that definitely got Young’s attention. Carano was looking to finish as Young hung in, still throwing strikes. Carano landed a front kick, dropping her opponent and letting her move in for a rear naked choke. Carano almost had the choke as the 2nd round ended. So far I give fight of the night to Carano and Young.
The doctor ended up stopping the fight at the end of the 2nd round – Young took a lot of punishment in the 2nd round.
Carano keeps her undefeated record as she proves she is still the world’s top female competitor.
Lawler vs. Smith
This match up definitely has fight of the night potential: Two UFC vets who are super strikers with 25 knockouts between them scheduled for 5 x 5 minute rounds.
They start slow, feeling each other out with neither fighter committing then Scott Smith rushed in as Robbie Lawler landed a straight left. Smith looked like he was in trouble but he recovered and they went back to striking in the middle of the cage. With only a few minutes left in the first round both fighters start swinging for the fences – either guy could have dropped at any time with the ferocity they are throwing shots. Lawler used his jab effectively and showed great composure landing more punches than he took. Lawler ended the round with a hard body shot and a series of bombs that rocked Smith and that would have finished the fight if the round hadn’t ended.
At the start of the second round Lawler looked as fresh as he did before the fight, while Smith looked haggard. Lawler moved well and found his range, landing another hard body kick as they sized each other up the crowd cut them no slack- booing for the third time during this action filled fight. Smith started making a comeback, landing some hard knees and working Lawler over as he gained momentum. But, Lawler fired back and landed some hooks and uppercuts of his own as he pinned Smith against the cage. Smith landed an accidental head butt in the clinch that cut Lawler as they continued to land solid strikes and kicks to the body and head. The second round ended in the clinch with Smith landing elbows to counter Lawler’s punches.
The third round started the same as the rest of the fight with both fighters trading strikes. Lawler worked his jab game and got his range. But both fighters seemed hesitant, throwing just enough hard strikes to keep the impatient crowd from booing. Lawler went for a takedown and almost got caught in a choke, which led to Smith taking an accidental finger in the eye. Smith had 5 minutes to recover but the doctor called an end to the fight – much to Smith’s disappointment. The doctors said that Smith said twice that he couldn’t see, Smith said that he would have been fine after the 5 minute recovery.
Unfortunately since the title fight didn’t make 3 full rounds, it’s considered a No Contest. However, in a very classy gesture during the post fight interviews Elite President Gary Shaw stated that since both fighters fought such a tough and entertaining fight, they will both be paid their win bonuses.
“Kimbo” vs. James Thompson
This fight again paired two strikers in a match destined to end with somebody getting knocked out. However, Kevin “Kimbo” Ferguson has very dangerous hands while Thompson is always moving forward on his opponents, often recklessly leaving himself open.
The fight started with Kimbo looking to land some knees in the clinch as Thompson went for a takedown which landed Kimbo on his back. Kimbo got back to his feet only to quickly be taken down again. The next time the pair were on their feet it was Kimbo who got the takedown – and Thompsons in half guard. Thompson took side control – a la Matt Hughes – trapping Kimbo’s arm and briefly shifting the momentum. However, Thompson couldn’t capitalize as Kimbo did a nice scissor sweep to regain top position and followed up with a few elbows. Thompson did manage to gain his guard back as he simultaneously performed a sweep and a Kimura from his back. The round ended in a very entertaining back and forth stand up exchange.
Round two started with Kimbo defending a takedown as he punished Thompson with some hard knees. Thompson managed to get side mount and land a few elbows but the action was slow and in a questionable move the ref stood the heavyweights up. This time Kimbo landed some hard shots and Thompson was looking rough. Kimbo capitalized and tormented Thompson with hard elbows, resulting in Thompson rushing into a takedown, which landed him in a guillotine and caused him to spike his own head. Thompson managed to pull out and pin Kimbo’s head against the cage while trapping his arm. With only a minute left, Kimbo was in danger of the fight being stopped as Thompson relentlessly dropped elbows. The round ended with Kimbo slow to get up after feeling the full effects of Thompson’s nasty elbows.
Obviously rocked from the beating he took in the second, Kimbo was slow to get off his stool and start the final round. I don’t think he would disagree that he was lucky the ref didn’t stop the previous round. Nonetheless, Kimbo’s luck continued and he immediately landed a series of hard shots that opened up a cut on Thompson’s ugly ass cauliflower ear and stopped the fight.
The referee rushed in and stopped the action way too soon and Thompson argued his case to no avail. There seemed to be an inconsistency with the ref about how much punishment each fighter can take – Kimbo took way more damage at the end of the second compared to what Thompson took in the third. This was definitely the worse call of the night! Nonetheless Kimbo gets the victory and remains undefeated.