Before get into the meat of this article and start talking about the fights and the fighters, I wanted to make sure I call attention to the fact that there was a lot of talent involved with the non-televised portion of the undercard. There are without question some fighters that fought during the non-televised portion that earned a shot at fighting in a televised bout in the future. On that note, I wanted to establish that I believe EliteXC needs to do an even better job of ensuring that the good fighters that appear on their cards make stick around to make an impact for the promotion.
Above all else, I see a real need for the promotion to create a defined developmental program so that they can better utilize prospects and bring them along in a more controlled environment. One issue I have with EliteXC is that they’ve had some good prospects appear on their shows that they weren’t able to retain. Scott Jorgenson fought on the first ShoXC and looked great. In September, Justin Buchholz made a statement with a strong victory on the undercard of EliteXC’s event in Hawaii. Well, Buchholz fought for the UFC at UFN 12 while Jorgenson will make his WEC debut in February. Those kinds of things can’t happen. Time is money. Looking at the situation as if I were strictly a businessman, if EliteXC puts a fighter on its airwaves then they have to retain the contractual option of being able to use that fighter again. Exposure is everything for an undiscovered fighter and when you give a fighter exposure you open up a lot of doors for him. You can’t help your competition discover talent like that. Even if they aren’t watching the show the fighter still has the ability to take the video and send it to matchmakers.
I think there’s a great way to prevent that situation from happening again while at the same time utilizing the King of the Cage, ICON Sport, and Cage Rage acquisitions. First, any fighter who appears on ShoXC should have to sign a basic one-fight EliteXC contract with options for up to two more fights. After their first ShoXC fight, the option either gets picked up or declined. Now, if a fighter really stands out they should be signed to an exclusive six fight split contract. It really isn’t in a fighter’s best interest to give up exclusivety early in their career so offer them a retention bonus. Offering a bonus could change the way a fighter feels about committing to six fights. The split aspect of the contract is that the first three fights are to take place in a developmental promotion such as ShoXC, KOTC, ICON Sport, or Cage Rage. They should even leave open the option of allowing a fighter, with permission, to compete outside of the contract for local promotions. The contracts should also protect the fighter by stipulating that they must be offered the first three fights within a 10 month span and if they aren’t they will still be compensated for three fights regardless. After the three developmental contract elapses, an option will once again come up. EliteXC either has to promote them to EliteXC shows, assuring them even more exposure and greater compensation, or grant them a full release.
Travel costs add up so why not assign fighters on developmental contracts to different territories? King of the Cage is based on California but has working agreements with local promotions all over the country. Assign a fighter to the promotion closest to where he trains. KOTC doesn’t have a presence in the Northeast portion of the U.S., which is still an untapped region for up and coming fighters. But instead of acquiring another promotion, why not just sign a deal with an existing local promoter that allows for EliteXC to assign fighters?
Such a developmental structure like the one outlined here gives EliteXC contractual control of the fighters that appear on their cards yet still gives them the ability to develop fighters slowly rather than being forced to put them in situations they might not be ready for.
One more thing, I hope the strong undercard performances by some of the fighters open more doors for a lot of good fighters on the East Coast who aren’t getting opportunities right now because of a lack of exposure. It just seems like it’s the fighters from the west and midwest that get all the breaks. I’m not saying that they don’t deserve them and that the talent isn’t legit. My point is that the talent out here is legit too. If a fighter from Gladiator Challenge or King of the Cage show gets a shot on a big show and does well, it seems like promoters go over his record and sign anyone who performed well against him. But in the Northeast, it’s hard enough for fighters to get on a big show so that they can call more attention fellow fighters from their area.
I also thought the whole event went over great in A.C. They did good attendance considering they were late in announcing and promoting the show. Big leave MMA in A.C. seems like a natural fit and I’d like to see more of it. Unfortunately, politics from some of the local promotions, politics within the State Athletic Control Board, and costs to run a show because of the union agreement really make it tough and those are the reasons why you don’t see many major shows in Jersey. There’s nothing you can do about the unions but hopefully a recent change within the leadership of the control board will have a positive effect.
Onto the matches…