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Mike Reilly: And the band played on…

When our travel agent first booked us on the HMS EliteXC we were impressed with the service and quality of the trip. Sadly the best our travel agent could do was book us in steerage but after a short talk with the 1st mate we found ourselves in a first class cabin with a private walk out balcony and personal porter.

Ten minutes later we hit an iceberg.

We now find ourselves huddled in a lifeboat with other refugees in the frozen waters of MMA limbo. What I find odd is how many people are rejoicing the death of EliteXC. Well maybe odd is the wrong word… how about horrified, angry, saddened, disgusted of just plain old pissed off?

From day one the naysayers predicted a horrible and sudden death to the promotion as they have with every promotion. They now revel in being right as naysayers always do when things go wrong for others. It is a sad sickness of the human condition to relish the failure of others. Shameful and wicked would be the Jesuit description; though I doubt today’s world allow room for such judgments.

From a personal perspective, Elite treated fighters and fans wonderfully. We were never left waiting for rides or pay or per diem. We were always provided with great opponents, venue and given the largest stages this sport has seen on which to compete. Every member of the staff including Gary, Jared, Jeremy, JD, JT, Jessica and everyone else always met us with a smile, kindness and respect. They always did their best to make sure everything ran on time; friends and family were taken care of and we always felt appreciated. That is not always the case, even with top tier events.

From the perspective of someone who works with and for fighters it is tragic to see another well-paying, well-meaning company slip under the waves. Most fans think of fighters like characters in a video game. But these are real flesh and blood people with the same concerns as every other work a day person in this nation. These are not millionaire athletes. To date there has been less then a dozen fighters who will hit $1,000,000 in their entire careers. Most “A” level fighters will make less then $100,000 with purse and sponsors combined. With Elite gone the number that will make even that amout will drop dramatically.

Simply put there are too many fighters to be supported by one or two organizations. The fewer promotions there are the more fighters who will be competing for spots that will be worth less and less. This is not a reflection on any one promotion — this is the basic nature of market forces. Fighters will be forced to take greater risks for less reward and the promotions left standing will reap the benefits. I’m not making a moral judgment here, but neither will I rejoice in a situation that will destroy the fighting careers of many fine young athletes.

As we watch the last of her stern slip beneath the waves there are those who will curse her architect. Some will malign the Captain and her crew. Still others will rage their anger at God. However, for us still among the flotsam we will simply mourn her, grab an oar and row like hell.

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