I’ve read numerous posts on message forums from some people that haver a problem with the underground that has been put together for “EliteXC: Primetime.” And that is understandable, considering that a lot of the names on the card are not yet well known nationally. However, that’s going to change, as fighters such as Matt Makowski, Wilson Reis, Jim Bova, Zach Makovsky, and James “Binky” Jones are all stars in the making. And regular readers of this site will know that they are all fighters that we’ve been talking about for quite some time.
The undercard you will see on Saturday was not put together for a national audience. With 12,000 seats to fill inside Newark’s Prudential Center, this undercard was clearly put together with the idea to sell tickets locally. And as far as regional cards go, this undercard is an All-Star lineup of most of the top fighters available in the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia regions.
For the casual fan, there might not be a lot that appeals to you. However, if you are a hardcore fan, I strongly recommend you check out this show (starting at 7 p.m. ET on ProElite.com and CBSSports.com) because you are going to see some strong performances from some future stars.
Here’s my preview of the event and what I should you should look for:
Matt Makowski vs. Nick Serra - I have a tremendous amount of respect for Nick Serra as a fighter, but I think he might have bitten off more than he can chew here. Makowski is one of the top prospects at 170 lbs. you will find anywhere in the world. He’s younger than Serra; bigger than Serra; a better athlete than Serra; and will hold a huge advantage when it comes to the standup. Serra’s jiu-jitsu is no joke, but will he be able to get Makowski off his feet? Makowski is well-rounded and will not go down easily. I see Makowski keeping the fight standing and winning via first round TKO.
Carlton Haselrig vs. Carlos Moreno - Moreno will be a tremendous test for Haselrig. The former NFL All-Pro offensive lineman and six-time NCAA wrestling champ needs to get Moreno off his feet, otherwise, it will be a short night for him. If Haselrig gets the fight to the ground, then I see Moreno being the one that will be in trouble.
Moreno not only has not had much time to prepare for this fight, but I’ve been told that he was in the process of making the move to light heavyweight when he got the call for this fight. He could come in much lighter than Haselrig, which is yet another obstacle that he will have to overcome. I just see Haselrig being able to get this fight where he wants it and using his strength and aggression to put Moreno away with a first round TKO.
Wilson Reis vs. Justin Robbins - Robbins is not a Miletich fighter, but resembles one in a lot of ways. In fact, he was already scheduled to be at this show in order to corner Robbie Lawler. Robbins is a good, but not great, wrestler who is a solid all-aroud fighter. The thing is, his opponent is more than a solid fighter, as Wilson Reis is a dynamic athlete with world class jiu-jitsu and great wrestling. Reis’ standup still has room for improvement, and Robbins’ game plan should be to try to keep the fight standing and test Reis’ striking. However, if Reis can take a former Division I wrestler like Zach Makovsky down, then I think Robbins is going to have trouble with his takedowns as well. I see Reis winning via second round submission.
Jim Bova vs. Chris Liguori - I am really excited for this fight. Liguori will be the bigger fighter and has more experience. However, Bova is extremely technical on the ground and might be almost impossible to put away. He’s a notorious slow starter, but he has a tendency to get stronger the longer a fight goes. Hopefully he doesn’t start slow here, because Liguori is a dangerous opponent that could possibly finish the fight early if Bova gives him an opening. As long as Bova fights a smart fight, and I’ve never seen him do anything but, this one will go to a decision. I see Liguori winning round one with Bova rallying to take round two and then coming out to claim round three and the decision.
James “Binky” Jones vs. Calvin Kattar – This will be an interesting fight, as there will be an 18-year age difference with the 38-year old Jones taking on the 20-year old Kattar. Jones, a submission wrestling instructor with Team Ground Control in Baltimore, likes to tell his students that “The time is now.” And for Jones, who has aspirations of winning a lightweight title for a major national promotion, the time is now because at his age, a high-profile loss could set him back permnately.
But it’s hard not to root for Jones, as he’s one of the nicest fighters I’ve encountered in my brief time covering the sport. He’s a family man having been married for 12 years and has spent nearly two decades as a teacher working with troubled teens at Maryland-area alternative educational school.
As a Renzo Gracie brown belt, it behooves Jones to get this fight to the ground and end the fight quick, because Kattar could have a slight advantage when it comes to the standup and he’ll have a clear advantage when it comes to cardio. The longer the fight goes, the more it benefits Kattar. But Jones has fought in some big-time spots before and I think his experience will be the difference-maker. I see Jones winning this fight via first round submission.
Zach Makovsky vs. Andre Soares – This fight is not scheduled to be shown, but I really think it should because it has a chance to be amazing. Makovsky and Soares both comes from great camps and are excellent on the ground. Makovsky, who trains out of the Fight Factory with Eddie Alvarez and Stephen Haigh, was a Division I wrestler in Philadelphia at Drexel University. Soares is a part of American Top Team and a highly-respected jiu-jitsu black belt. I’m really not sure who to pick here, but I’ll give the nod to the sentimental favorite, Makovsky, via unanimous decision.
Joe Sampieri vs. Mike Groves – Before Groves joined the Fight Factory, I actually sparred with him several years ago at Philly MMA and have been a fan of his ever since. He’s a great fighter to watch, as he’s extremely aggressive and doesn’t waste time trying to feel his opponents out. He’s very strong for his size and just doesn’t stop coming at his opponents, so Sampieri’s cardio needs to be good in order for him to have a chance in this fight. If Sampieri’s stamina is good, then this good be a bad matchup for Groves. Sampieri is the Muay Thai instructor for Renzo Gracie’s Jiu-Jitsu Academy and he’ll hold a huge advantage when it comes to the standup. As such, Groves needs to set up his takedown and take Sampieri off his feet and utilize his strong ground and pound ability. I am going to abstain from making a pick here, and I just think this one is a tossup and I can see it going either way.