We’re here once again with another exciting weekend of mixed martial arts action starting with EliteXC: Primetime on CBS. This will be a historic event for the sport of MMA and we’re more than happy to give you our analysis and predictions of the fights. Let’s do it..
Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson
Paul Balsom: Thompson has won a whopping two of his last eight fights, one of those victories coming against Don Frye. Now I’m no statistician, but that’s not even a good percentage for baseball at-bats. Kimbo will punch Thompson many times in the face. Though Kimbo is no top-tier mixed martial artist, I’m going to go ahead and pick Kimbo to win with a KO in the first round. It’s a little sad that the MMA network debut main event is a fight that requires only this much breaking down.
Michael Huckaby: Thompson is going to “tard charge” and try to get it to the ground immediately. He’ll feel this is a big surprise but it’s fairly obvious that’s what is going to happen. So instead of this fight simply being “Thompson punched in face, Thompson falls” it might actually come down to whether that running takedown works or not. Even if it does Kimbo should be good enough to get up at this point. The only problem with going against Thompson is he seems to win when he’s not supposed to. Still not going to pick him. Winner: Kimbo Slice, TKO, Rd1
Adam Morgan: There’s no two ways about this fight. Thompson is being set up to be Kimbo’s next victory. With Kimbo’s punching power and Thompson’s glass chin and tendency to run straight across the cage at his opponents, this one feels like a no-brainer. However, Thompson has had tough fights and beaten somewhat decent competition so I don’t expect him to be a complete pushover like Cantrell and Abbott were. I expect for Kimbo to actually have a somewhat legitimate test here even if it only lasts a couple minutes into the first round. Ultimately though, Kimbo knocks Thompson out. Kimbo Slice via TKO, round one.
Gary Herman: Thompson has one job on Saturday night – make Kimbo look good. I just hope he doesn’t knock himself out walking to the cage. Kimbo Slice by first round KO.
Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith (EliteXC MW Title Fight)
Paul Balsom: Scott Smith has shown heavy hands in his more recent fights in the UFC and his debut in EliteXC. However, not many have heavier hands than Lawler. The champ will pick apart Smith some solid striking and either knock him out straight off his feet, or Smith will end up on his back like Ninja Rua and get brutalize in that way. Robbie Lawler via KO in round two.
Michael Huckaby: It’s not hidden secret that I have a bit of a man crush on Scott Smith but he’s completely overmatched here. He does have a puncher’s chance, in fact a good punchers chance, but still not enough of one to warrant a pick. Lawler has been on a roll flirting with that #9 or #10 spot in the middleweight division and he’s only 26 years old. And let’s be honest, with fairly similar games I’ll take the guy that beat Frank Trigg over the guy lost to Ed Herman. I’m sorry Scott, please don’t hate me. Winner: Robbie Lawler, TKO, Rd3
Adam Morgan: This could end up being the fight of the night and I love the matchmaking that EliteXC’s done here. Smith may not be one of the best middleweights in the world but he loves to stand and bang and if he catches you with his power, you’re going out. Lawler likes to stand and bang as well but I feel he has the better training camp, the more well-rounded game, and just as much KO power as Smith does. Lawler might be the best fighter on EliteXC’s entire roster and I think he overwhelms Smith in this bout. Robbie Lawler via TKO, round two.
Gary Herman: Should be a great TV fight. Both guys will look to bang it out, and both guys have enough skills where it won’t look like a carnival act. Smith is a somewhat recognizable fighter from his UFC days, and Lawler is one of the guys EliteXC wants to build around. Lawler looked great in defeating Ninja Rua, Frank Trigg, and now Scott Smith. Robbie Lawler by second round TKO.
Joey Villasenor vs. Phil Baroni
Paul Balsom: Baroni has lost two of his last six. He is obviously in desperate need of a win. He’s been training hard, according to some interviews of his I’ve seen, and he’s been hard-sparring for almost 5 weeks. Smokin’ Joe has been KO’d by two opponents with Baroni’s same style in recent past, and I think he may succumb to Baroni’s early violent intentions and heavy hands in this one. Baroni via KO in early round two.
Michael Huckaby: Following the Hose fight I had the “pleasure” of having to ask Baroni’s agent Ken Pavia a couple of questions regarding his conditioning. Obviously Ken didn’t think it was that big of a deal but it’s his job not to think so. This is a more interesting fight than you’d immediately think. If Villasenor fails at a takedown or two (a big if) he’s wide open to a Baroni onslaught. Sure, a 90 second onslaught before he passes out from exhaustion, but an onslaught none the less. I’ve just convinced myself to do the unthinkable. I’m taking Phil Baroni only because Villasenor has shown such poor standup that if he can’t get this immediately down the first four minutes of this fight won’t work for him. Is this pick wrong? Probably. Once the first round ends I’ll give Villasenor a 90% chance to win but I’m going to be cute. Winner: Phil Baroni, TKO, Rd1
Adam Morgan: This is a tough one to call. Villasenor is coming off a victory over Ryan Jensen when Jensen stepped in on extremely short notice, knocking him out in the first. But he hasn’t shown the killer instinct and technical standup that I think it will take to beat a guy like Baroni. Sure, Baroni has fallen on hard times but he is tough as nails, hits like a ton of bricks, and has decent wrestling. An injury-free Baroni with at least halfway decent cardio can take a fighter like Villasenor, especially if Villasenor’s strategy is to stand the entire time. Phil Baroni via TKO, round two.
Gary Herman: Why does Phil Baroni keep getting big fights? He hasn’t won a real fight in over two years (Yuki Kondo in April 2006). He didn’t look all that good against Frank Shamrock or Kala Hose. He did show a lot of guts though. But, at the end of the day, the goal for EliteXC on this night is to entertain the crowd as opposed to featuring the most skilled fighters. If nothing else (and there may be nothing else) – Baroni can do that. On the other hand, Villasenor holds recent wins over David Loiseau and Ryan Jensen. He’ll also come to the fight well prepared. In another stand-up battle, Villasenor takes it. Joey Villasenor by TKO in round one.
Gina Carano vs. Kaitlin Young
Paul Balsom: Though tons of women fighters in MMA aren’t the biggest fans of Gina Carano, she really will do tons for women in MMA, especially with all the exposure from American Gladiators. I think Kaitlin Young has a legitimate chance to beat Carano in this one. Carano has even mentioned in interviews that she has only trained for a few weeks for this fight because season two of Gladiators just wrapped. The “face of female MMA” definitely has to pull this one out not only for her own career, but to help the females of the sport rise collectively in status. I think Carano will win this one via unanimous decision.
Michael Huckaby: I have to think Young will use this national stage to prove she can outstrike Carano. I could be completely wrong but that’s what my head is telling me. I also think with EXC’s future on the line and putting the entire show on the shoulders of Kimbo and Gina that they know who they can beat. This will be rather plodding as Gina isn’t going to destroy her or anything but simply get the better of it. Winner: Gina Carano, decision
Adam Morgan: This could also be a fight of the night candidate, or at least the fight that everyone is talking about coming out of the event. Carano is a great Thai boxer with wins in Thailand, which is a huge deal, and is not afraid of the fight. But as of late she’s admitted as much that her stint on American Gladiators has impeded her time to train and prepare for this fight. She seems too involved in wanting to be the pretty face instead of the great fighter. Young’s had a ten week training camp with some of the world’s best fighters and seems focused on nothing but the fight. Carano might be the better Thai boxer but Young’s overall game is better, specifically her grappling and I think she spoils Gina’s party on primetime television. Kaitlin Young via split decision.
Gary Herman: I hope Carano has enough time to prepare for the fight. She’s definitely stretched herself thin by cutting down her training camp. That may not be the smartest thing to do against Kaitlin Young. The goal of this fight is to bring women’s MMA to the forefront and educate the new fans that women can actually get in there and throw down – without WWE’s gimmicks of jello, pudding, lingerie, etc.. Young will be be the better all-around fighter while Carano should have be better standing. This is a tough fight to pick, but I’m going to go with the upset here – Young’s ground skills will neutralize Carano. Young by unanimous decision.
Jon Murphy vs. Brett Rogers
Paul Balsom: Big guys. Punching. Lots of punching. Lots of hair. Rogers via KO in round one.
Michael Huckaby: This is a true tossup fight for me. Rogers has the striking, Murphy the grappling, and the big problem is I have NO IDEA how good Rogers is with his takedown defense. That will be the fight. If Brett Rogers can keep this standing he’ll destroy Murphy in the first round. If he gets into a grappling contest this will be a complete tossup with Murphy getting a late sub or decision. I’m really interested in seeing more of Rogers (and not just because I picked him in the MMA mock draft!) and I have to take him here. Winner: Brett Rogers, TKO, Rd1
Adam Morgan: The oddsmakers like Brett Rogers in this fight but I have to disagree. Before he beat James Thompson, Rogers was beating up on nobodies in the local circuits. Murphy, on the other hand, has won and and also been defeated, bounced back from adversity, fought the tougher fights, and is one of the better heavyweight prospects in all of MMA. I don’t expect the fight to hit the floor because both guys like to bang and have power there, but if it does I think Murphy has the clear-cut advantage there. The striking is a toss-up. Whoever lands the big bomb first is going to take this one but I think Murphy has the better gas tank and the better overall game. If he uses his entire game against Rogers, it may be a long night (or short one) for “The Grim.” Jon Murphy via TKO, round two.
Gary Herman: Rogers’ best chance here is with the knockout. Murphy has a better all-around game. Either way, the fight will be very entertaining, but I have to say that this is a fight that shows what’s wrong with this card to a MMA fan. Why is Rogers fighting on the undercard when he just ripped through the guy (Thompson) in the main event? Because EliteXC is trying to build Kimbo to be a superstar and not because Thompson deserves the shot. It’s fine to want to build Kimbo slowly, but EliteXC should stop trying to convince us he’s a true MMA stud until they are willing to match Kimbo with some real competition. Back to the fight – it’s a close call, but I’ll take Rogers power over Murphy’s skills. Rogers by second round TKO.