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EliteXC: “Primetime” Thoughts & Commentary

Huckaby just posted a great pros and cons article below so I’ll stick to the basics and give you some quick thoughts on the show.

- Gus Johnson was awesome. I’ve always been a fan of Johnson’s work on the NFL broadcasts and the NCAA basketball broadcasts so I was excited to see him working with EliteXC in the same capacity. But his performance tonight was fantastic and brought a great level of excitement to the fights with a familiar voice. Plus having him do in-ring interviews with the fighters as opposed to Frank Shamrock, who usually does them, brought a real degree of professionalism to the broadcast. Props to Gus for keeping it real, talking when he needed to talk, and letting Mauro and Shamrock do their thing when they needed to. The three man booth needs a little tightening up but overall it was a good showing from the commentary team.

- The dancing girls need to go. This point has been hashed out time and time again. On Showtime they’re tolerable because that’s a premium cable channel. But you don’t roll those ladies out in their skimpies on national television. It makes the product come across as sleazy. Not to mention cheesy.

- Brett Rogers has some insane power in his hands. Jon Murphy hits hard and can take a punch but Rogers floored him with power. He delivered to the fans exactly what they wanted to see.

- Frank Shamrock’s “MMA 101″ bit at the beginning was a very good idea and something that needed to be done to explain to fans who might be tuning in for the first time what exactly they will and will not see inside the cage. Shamrock is just the kind of personality and ambassador for the sport that EliteXC needs doing these kinds of bits and this piece delivered. If you were a hardcore fan you already knew everything he was talking about but if you’re someone tuning into MMA for the first time then it was probably extremely helpful.

- Phil Baroni. Where does he go from here? Weak stamina, weak chin, weak gameplan. Baroni has now lost four out of his last five fights. He’s an entertaining guy, he likes to give the fans what they want, but at some point you have to think about what’s best for you, and that’s winning fights. Villasenor made him look silly tonight.

- No commercials between rounds. This is how the sport should be presented. Some of the drama is lost during UFC events on Spike because they cut to commercial during the round breaks. But during this event you got to see the cuts between the rounds, whether or not a fighter looked gassed or not, and more importantly, instructions from the corner. Being able to get an inside look at what the fighter is going through between rounds and what his corner is saying to him just adds to the drama of the fight. Plus, less commercials for Street Fighter 4 make me happy.

- Gina Carano has serious power and took some of Kaitlin Young’s best shots. Size and power combined proved to be Young’s undoing. How about that gogoplata attempt from Carano? It looked like she may have had it at one point but her leg ended up being too low under Young’s chin. Good showing. Kaitlin was game and I wish it had gone a third round but she was clearly outsized and outclassed on the feet and her face was messed. As much as I don’t agree with EliteXC’s preferential treatment of Carano and her weight issues, she was impressive tonight in the toughest test of her young career and deserves her props.

- Lawler vs. Smith was turning into a five round version of Bonnar/Griffin and it was stopped because why? Isn’t Smith supposed to get five minutes to recover from an accidental thumb in the eye? God forbid he get the full five minutes and then let the doctors talk to him and make their decision. The fight of the night was ruined by outside influence, EliteXC got screwed out of a fantastic fight on free TV, and MMA as a whole could have benefited from that fight going the distance. Instead we’re left with a no-contest, a fighter who clearly wanted to still fight, and an unhappy crowd watching at home and live.

- How anyone can boo during the aforementioned fight is beyond me. This was a great fight before it got stopped and every time there was even the slightest lull in action the crowd would boo. As I’ve said before, not every fight is going to be Frye/Takayama and if they were, then MMA would suck. If you can’t appreciate what was going on during that fight then you might as well not be watching the sport.

- And yes, as Huckaby said below about the Kimbo fight, I disagree with the idea that the fix was in, that the stoppage wasn’t legitimate, and of all things, that the fight should have been stopped during round two. Was the stoppage a bit premature? Maybe. Thompson took four unanswered blows to the dome and his ear was exploded and bleeding profusely. If you look at the replay, Thompson’s eyes tell the whole story. To me he looked like he was done. One more blow probably would have ended his night. That being said, Miragliotta probably should have let the fight continue and let Kimbo do his thing. Who knows, maybe Thompson would have come back but I doubt it.

- There is a contingent of people saying that the fight should have been stopped at the end of round two? Give me a break. Thompson’s punches were not anything for Kimbo to be concerned about and they certainly were not hurting him. They were pitter-pat punches and elbows and yes, he landed a lot of them. But they were never enough to warrant the stoppage of a fight, even in the most high-caliber of MMA fights. Just when you thought Miragliotta might step in to end it, Kimbo reached up, grabbed a hand to defend and impeded Thompson’s progress. Some people are likening it to Hughes/Penn 2 which is totally uncalled for. Both of Penn’s arms were completely trapped and immobile during that fight. Such was not the case for this fight. If the fight would have ended that way, we’d have people commenting about how terrible the stoppage was. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

- Finally, Kimbo has improved but has a long ways to go. He showed tonight that he has good power, can take a punch, and can manage to do some good work off his back when he has gas. But he also had no idea what to do when he was mashed up against the cage with Thompson in side control. He also gassed mid-way through the second round. He’s a 3-0 fighter with 3-0 skills. Kimbo’s handlers would be wise to keep him away from Roy Nelson, who at this point I think would handily defeat Kimbo. If Nelson has Kimbo in the same position that Thompson had him in round two, you can be rest assured he finishes the fight. Slice showed tonight that he’s no match for someone like Nelson yet.

- Overall, like Huck, I enjoyed the show. I don’t get why so many people are taking a dump on it but to each their own. I wish the Lawler/Smith fight wouldn’t have been stopped the way it did and would have maybe liked to have seen a more decisive ending to the Kimbo/Thompson fight but I thought overall that the show was entertaining and enjoyable. Let’s hope there’s a next time.

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