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Preview of CBS’ Saturday Night Fights debut

102393_diftppgmqf_vlarge1.jpg In order to help get you in the mood for EliteXC’s historic debut on CBS this Saturday at 9 p.m. ET, I wanted to offer my breakdown of the televised portion of the card and give my predictions for the fight. I will have my preview of the Internet fights available here tomorrow.

Overall, this card is filled with standup fighters so I expect a lot of quick and dramatic finishes. Here’s my fight-by-fight look at the card

Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson - Thompson has pulled off big wins over the likes of Dan Severn, Don Frye, and Hidehiko Yoshida in the past. But he’s also lost a lot of fights in spectacular fashion to Fujita, Butterbean, and even Neil Grove.

EliteXC is still a relatively young promotion without a lot of marquee stars at the moment. The promotion has Frank Shamrock and Kimbo as its only two headliners, so a loss by Slice in this spot would be devestating to the promotion. But I just don’t see that happening, as Slice’s hands are world class and Thompson’s chin is infamous.

Thompson tried to put Brett Rogers on the ground in February following his patented “Gong ‘N Dash,” but he wasn’t strong enough to put Rogers down. While Slice isn’t pushing 265 lbs., he’s still a strong guy and I just don’t see Thompson getting Slice to the floor. However, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Slice trying to put Thompson on his back, just like he did to Ray Mercer during their exhibition last year. That said, Thompson is much more experienced in MMA than Mercer was so hitting the takedown in this fight will be more of a challenge. But Slice has had a lot of training since the Mercer fight, so who really knows what’s going to happen here?

The only thing I am certain of is that Slice records a first round TKO in this one.

Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith for the EliteXC middleweight title - Stylistically, this is a great matchup and we should see some fireworks. Lawler has really come into his own in recent years and I consider him to be extremely underrated. While he’ll never be known for his ground game, he’s much more well-rounded than he was during his stint in the UFC.

As for Smith, he wrestled in junior college and has actually been training jiu-jitsu longer than he’s been studying Muay Thai. However, we haven’t seen much of his ground skills in actual fights in recent years and I don’t think we’re going to see it here.

Smith felt out Kyle Noke this past February at Street Certified, but all the fighters know what’s at stake here. As such, I see Lawler and Smith giving the masses what they want and as such, I see them getting down to business right off the bat. Smith certainly has a puncher’s chance, but if I were to play the percentages here, I say odds are that Lawler wins via first round TKO.

Gina Carano vs. Kaitlin Young - Young had a nine week training camp while Carano was occupied up until recently with the filming for the second season of American Gladiators. If Carano had a full training camp, she’d be my pick to win this fight via unanimous decision. While Young has the advantage in the raw power department, Carano has got a lot of power to her punches and kicks as well, and I’d say she’s a little more of a technical striker than Young.

However, all things are not equal in this fight and I am unsure why Carano decided to take this fight without being able to focus properly on it. Either she’s taking Young’s skills lightly; or placing too much faith in her own abilities; or she thinks MMA is a lot easier than it really is. Regardless, I think she will learn a valuable lesson on Saturday night as Young becomes the new face of women’s MMA when she puts the first blemish on Carano’s record by winning via unanimous decision.

Joey Villasenor vs. Phil Baroni – Based on Baroni’s performances during media appearances, it’s hard to fault EliteXC for getting him involved with this card in spite of two consecutive losses. But the reality is that Baroni has come up short in a lot of his fights and Villasenor is a very tough matchup for him.

Baroni has the advantage when it comes to power, but Villasenor is a more diverse and technical striker. As long as he can protect his chin, I actually see Villasenor holding the advantage on the feet. On the ground, it’s no contest, as Villasenor’s submissions are clearly superior to Baroni’s. Baroni might have the advantage when it comes to wrestling but taking Kala Kolohe to the crowd during an ICON Sport show is one thing, and trying to get a guy with good submissions like Villasenor on the ground on network television is another.

My pick here is Villasenor via third round TKO. However, a second round submission isn’t out of the question either.

Jon Murphy vs. Brett Rogers - A lot is at stake for both fighters in this one. Murphy is 4-2 but could easily be 6-0. He’s a big-time prospect with tremendous athletic ability for a heavyweight. But by his own admission he’s yet to become the fighter he knows he can be. Coming off a shoulder injury, Murphy’s training for this fight has gone well and he’s added bulk for this fight in anticipation of Rogers’ strength and sheer bulk.

For Rogers, he’s now committed to MMA full-time but has four children to support. Walking with his guarantee isn’t enough — he needs to take home a win bonus as well. He’s exceptionally strong and is very determined. While he hasn’t fought the toughest competition coming out of the Midwest, he’s handled everyone that has been put in front of him and the power he possesses in his hands make him a threat vs. anyone. Murphy must avoid getting hit by any power shots in this one. It might be in his best interest to get this fight to the ground, but I have a feeling he will indulge Rogers on the standup.

This is a tough call, but I am predicting Murphy to win the upset via second round TKO.

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