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September 3, 2015

CBS and the Elite XC experiment

by Brett Love, posted Jun 1st 2008 3:00PM
Gina Carano - Elite XC

Well, did you watch it? Last night CBS boldly went where no network has gone before... and it kind of sucked. That's too bad. As someone who counts himself as a fan of MMA, I had high hopes for the big debut. But then, I knew going in that it was an iffy proposition. They try hard, but the Elite XC is still far from the cream of the MMA crop. For the prime time debut, it really would have been nice if this could have been a big UFC event. Heck, even the WEC with that Uriah Faber vs Jens Pulver (VS tonight at 6PM PST) match would have been preferable.

Despite the lack of big name talent, the show still had a shot. Great fights can make up for a lot of shortcomings, and this one had a lot of them to be made up for. To start, the production left a lot to be desired. For example, if you are promising the fans big time fighting, get to it already. It took a full 25 minutes before the first match started. Worse than that, given the way the first two matches played out, fans were left with just over two minutes of actual fighting in the first hour of the show. I was left thinking that the most exciting thing about the first hour was the commercial for Street Fighter IV. Not a good sign.

The team doing the coverage wasn't the greatest either. Mauro Ronallo, Gus Johnson, and Frank Shamrock all did an ok job, but you have to compare them to their peers. They come off as lacking when you hold them up to the dynamic that you get from Mike Goldberg, Joe Rogan, and Randy Couture.

As I said before though, good fights trump everything. If the fights were really good, you could listen to an announce team speaking in a foreign language and it would still be a great show. And that is ultimately what killed the Elite XC here. Let's take a look at the matches.

The first two were both instantly forgettable. Yeah, the occasional quick knockout is exciting, but it was exactly the opposite of what the show needed. Joe Murphy was never even in his fight with Brett Rogers. Much like Phil Baroni putting up no real challenge for Joe Villasenor. Baroni's tired entrance shtick, which looked like Val Venis, without the humor, took longer than his fight.

And then we had one of the few bright spots of the night. Surprisingly, it came from the women. Gina Carano vs Kaitlin Young was the fight I was most interested in coming into the show. For one, the women's division is the one thing that really set it apart. You just don't see a lot of girls doing MMA on the TV. Also, of course, Gina Carano is just ridiculously hot, and the fact that she's dedicated herself to being a fighter is fascinating.

The fight was better than I had anticipated. Both of them are much more powerful than I had expected, landing, and taking, some really big kicks and punches. The best part though, was that this fight finally had some shifts in momentum. Kaitlin Young wasn't just another step on Gina Carano's tour. She had her moments where she was up in the fight. And damn, the girl is tough. If you watched, you had to see that quickly expanding mouse under her left eye at the end of round two.

And then things really started to go off the rails. I didn't think much of the stopping of that fight when it happened. I've certainly seen fighters go back out with injuries worse than Young's, but I was willing to accept the doctor's decision to stop the fight there. In light of how the rest of the night played out though, it was a harbinger of things to come.

The next fight really had the makings of a signature for the Elite XC. Scott Smith and Robbie Lawler were well matched and put on a great show. Like Young, Smith can take a punch. And his ability to absorb damage and recover served him well as he and Lawler went back and forth. The first round got off to a slow start, with boos raining down from impatient crowd. After that though, it was a good match. Right up until that unfortunate finger to the eye. The stories vary, and I'm sure there is plenty of blame to be passed around, but right or not, the doctor stopping the fight right there was the worst thing that could have happened to the show. It was the big title fight, tied one round apiece and still anybody's to win, and we are left with a no contest. Ridiculous.

But wait, there was more ridiculous to come. I thought the addition of the Kimbo Slice fight was a smart decision. His internet stardom means that he is more familiar to the non-MMA fan, and could draw a crowd. With that in mind though, it probably wasn't the best idea to put his match at the end of the show. If you are asking someone new to join you in this endeavor, probably not the best idea to ask them so sit through two hours of two bad fights, and two fights with questionable endings, to get to it. I'd guess that a lot of the audience had given up by the time the 11:00 hour approached and they finally got to the main event.

The fight itself surprised me. I thought they would bring in some tomato can so as not to endanger all the promotion they have put into Kimbo. James Thompson proved himself very dangerous. He also exposed Kimbo Slice. There is much more hype than actual skill to Kimbo when it comes to MMA. At this point, he's still a one trick pony. If somebody stands in front of him and lets him swing away, yes, he's going to eventually knock them out. But on the ground, he's more than vulnerable. He needs a lot more training before he is ready to take on any of the more accomplished fighters in the sport.

While it did take a little of the shine off of Kimbo, it did make for an interesting fight. Thompson had him on the ropes and looked to actually have a shot at winning the fight at one point. But again, like the two fights before it, it all ended up going to hell. That was one of the worst stoppages I have ever seen in MMA. Sure Thompson looked like he was about to be knocked out, but he had looked like that in the round before as well. If he could have wrapped Kimbo up and gotten him to the ground again, he could have come back. I highly doubt that Big John McCarthy or Herb Dean would have stopped the fight while Thompson was still on his feet and swinging.

Even if it was a good stop, which is debatable, it was again a horrible result for the debut of Elite XC. Your two biggest matches ending with the crowd booing and chanting bullshit is not a good sign. At the end of the day, the start of this experiment was about as bad as it could get. I would probably tune in to watch it again, but it's gone from wanting to see a great show to being more like how I watched Heatstroke on SciFi last night. How bad can it get?

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This show was horrible. Elite XC may have just ruined MMA's chance at primetime tv. Maybe next time CBS will go with an organization that knows what they're doing(UFC WEC). Gina Caranos fight was actually the best of the night. They proved Kimbo is a joke. I got to agree with Dana when he said BJ would kill Kimbo. I know I won't be tuning in for this event again.

June 02 2008 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

some things i have to add that havent been mentioned: why the hell is kimbo slice vs jack thompson the main event OVER A TITLE FIGHT. this is telling everyone that kimbo slice is a bigger deal than a championship bout! i know this is cbs' fault completely, all about the ratings, fuck the sport in their eyes. the fight should have been stopped when kimbo could not intelligently defend himself, they let his head get beat in for almost 2 minutes with no stopping. then they stop the fight because thompsons ear got busted!!??? that in no way warrants a stoppage from the referee. the title fight shouldnt have been stopped either, i dont think that he said that he couldnt see, only cbs said that, they were just back tracking and trying not to make the whole thing seem like bullshit.

The production value was pure and utter shit as well. ugly dancing hoes between bouts!?!? common! fireworks and a fighter walking to the ring by himself!?! boring! its far more intimidating and cooler to see a fighter walking ground level with their entourage walking fan level.
commentary was crap, i know that not everyone is joe rogan, but there has to be something better than what eliteXC has to offer. i really dont see this staying on cbs very long.

June 02 2008 at 1:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sean Prizzle

While there is much to be said about the fights, I want to discuss the other half of what's important..the production.

I was surprised to see the girls dancing on CBS. They were surely more covered then I'm used to but still a surprise to see on network TV.

I thought it was a very good idea to introduce the sport's popular terms and rules the way they did.

Here comes the bad. Why the hell did CBS had to screw with the announce team! They crow-barred this robot of an announcer Gus Johnson when EliteXC has an all-star team of Mauro Ronallo, Steven "creepy looking" Quadros, and the improving Bill "always saying gentleman" Goldberg to do the fighter interviews. Gus sucked hard and brought the excitement to a halt. Mauro on the other hand is an excellent announcer and more than capable of handling the play by play and color if needed. Tell me you didn't laugh when Mauro called Thompson's ear an "alien life form" and also stated "we are actually watching an MMA fight" during the same fight.

I'm calling for Gus to get the hook. He is a corporate jagoff who needs to be checking tickets at the door.

June 02 2008 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This "experiment" on CBS was, to put it simply, disastrous. Treating the public like a bunch of morons doesn't help when you are trying to gain viewership. I will stick with WEC, UFC, and EliteXC on Showtime. Screw CBS

June 02 2008 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Pepto Pimp

Seems like several of you watched it. So let me ask this, if (when) CBS broadcasts another Elite XC fight, will you watch it?

June 02 2008 at 10:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eric f

What they hell were they thinking no doing something about that dudes disgusting ear balloon before he came out to fight kimbo?

June 02 2008 at 8:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked it better in the old days where it was tournament style and they fought one after another until there was only 1 guy left. They didn't have any BS stoppages back then or rounds. They just fought until it was over.

June 02 2008 at 1:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MERVE-THE-PERVE's comment

Those days sucked because the 2 guys at the end were completely exhausted so the final fight was always a let-down.

June 02 2008 at 7:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All we needed was Richard Dawson hosting and it would have been complete for turning America circa 2008 into the Running Man version. This showing up on network television was truely pathetic as a indication of a society. But I guess the methheads needed something to watch.

June 02 2008 at 12:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Probably the one reason why I haven't gotten into MMA more seriously (big time pro wrestling fan for years), and that is the referee stoppage. If the guy isn't actually knocked out, tapping out, or passed out, it shouldn't be a knockout or stoppage or whatever. A guy on his feet *looks* like he's gonna pass out? WTF? He's in the ring, standing, let him keep fighting until it's over.

Seems crooked beyond belief, and the previous commenter seems right on about that ear. Bogus. I'll stick to the UFC, at least that is limited to 1 BS stoppage per ppv usually, lol.

June 01 2008 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bad fights happen so what? We still got blood and at the end of the day thats all what we really wanted.

Young never had a moment over Gina even when Young had Gina on the Ground Gina still took control of the situation with that wicked rarely seen choke move.

Their faces tell it all. Look at Gina's face and the end of the fight then look at Young's. Gina may had been 4 lbs. over but that mad no difference in this fight. Gina won this fight by pure skill. TKO and the T is for TOTAL!

June 01 2008 at 10:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Nathiest's comment

Uh...I don't watch to see blood, I watch to see good competition.

June 01 2008 at 10:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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