Here it is folks. If you want to watch a promotion with its back against the wall pulling out all the stops this is the show. EliteXC who has been in talks with Showtime and Affliction over the past few months about a buyout is putting on its next (and possibly last) major card. EliteXC has been hemorrhaging money even after they signed the CBS contract earlier this year. This is their last gasp at staying afloat and not becoming the next promotion to crumble under the weight of the UFC. Everything is on display. They are on Saturday night prime time on CBS. They are tabbing their two biggest stars in Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano to carry the show like they did in the first CBS card. They've collaborated with Affliction to bring two top 20 heavyweights in Andrei Arlovski and Roy Nelson onto the show. They even exhumed Ken Shamrock from the grave that was his MMA career for one last beating. And for the hardcore fans Jake Shields defends his title and Murilo "Ninja" Rua rounds out the card. It should be the best card they've put on to date. It has the best mix of flash and substance that will hopefully draw the numbers they need to stay alive on CBS and not make themselves a laughing stock in the MMA world like their first card did. This night is very intriguing for so many reasons outside of the fights themselves it should be a lot of fun. Let's get into the fights.
* Note: I will not be predicting the "Cyborg" Santos fight on the under card but I would be shocked if she lost since I know EliteXC is building to a Carano v. "Cyborg" fight down the line so I'm betting she's getting a cupcake to beat down.
Benji Radach v. Murilo Rua: Radach is 17-4, 1-0 in the WEC, 1-1 in the UFC, and 5-1 in the IFL, with all 17 wins by stoppage. He is a veteran journeyman who is a good stand up fighter. Rua is 16-8-1, 6-7 in PRIDE, 1-0 in Strikeforce, 1-1 in EliteXC, with 14 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter. Radach has the better record but Rua is the more accomplished fighter. I expect Rua to win here. I'll pick him by KO in the first round.
Gina Carano v. Kelly Kobald: Carano is 6-0, 3-0 in EliteXC, with 4 wins by stoppage. She is a great stand up fighter. Kobald is 16-2-1 with 14 wins by stoppage but hasn't fought in over a year. She is a well rounded fighter. Much like my prediction in the Cyborg fight I expect this to be a cupcake for Carano to smash en route to her clash with Cyborg. I'll pick Carano by decision.
Andrei Arlovski v. Roy Nelson: Arlovski is 14-5, 11-4 in the UFC, 1-0 in Affliction, with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a great stand up fighter and former UFC champion. Nelson is 13-2, 6-1 in the IFL, with 10 wins by stoppage. He is also a good stand up fighter and former IFL champion. This should be a great stand up war as neither guy really wants to go to the ground even though they are playing into each other's strength. This was a great loan from Affliction that significantly upgraded the card from about a B- to a B+/A-. I think Arlosvki looked great against Ben Rothwell and looks like the Arlovski of old. He looked quick and agile but still very powerful. I don't think Nelson has the technical skills nor the athleticism to keep up with Arlovski. But he is tough so I'll pick Arlovski by decision.
Jake Shields v. Paul Daley: Shields is 21-4-1, 3-0 in EliteXC, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is the current welterweight champ and is an amazing ground fighter. Daley is 18-6-2, 1-0 in Strikeforce, 1-0 in EliteXC, with 14 wins by stoppage. He is a good stand up fighter. This will be a great clash of styles but I think Shields is too well rounded to get bested on his feet before taking this fight to the mat quickly. I think he'll take Daley down and submit him in the second round to retain his title in the only championship match of the night.
Kimbo Slice v. Ken Shamrock: Slice is 3-0 overall and in EliteXC with all 3 wins by stoppage. He is a stand up fighter. Shamrock is 26-13-2, 7-6-2 in the UFC, 1-3 in PRIDE, with 24 wins by stoppage. He is a ground fighter who hasn't won a fight in 3 years and up until this past March hadn't fought in 2. This is a major mismatch no matter who you're picking. You're either picking Slice because he's younger, stronger, and faster. Or you're picking Shamrock because he has more experience and has a ground game that Slice has never seen before. Personally I'm picking Slice. Shamrock's career is over. He's 44 and hasn't won a fight in 3 years. He is a dinosaur from another era in MMA. Yes Slice is raw on many levels and was exposed in his last fight. But unless Bas Rutten is an idiot (which he isn't) he's trained Slice extensively on how to defend the take down and helped him remain in tip top shape so he doesn't gas out against a smaller and more well conditioned athlete. This fight will be pretty interesting to the casual fan due to the star power involved and to the hardcore fan who is interested in the actual match up of styles. Ultimately I'm picking Slice by KO in the first round.
This night is one for the casual fan. Speaking from the hardcore fan perspective I can't say this card thrills me though it offers much more than the first one did. However, I understand the predicament EliteXC is in. If they fail here that's it. They may not even get a deal with Showtime or Affliction if they bring out the big guns on this card and fail to draw an audience. Ultimately I think Showtime buying them and then entering a talent loan agreement with Affliction would be best for everyone involved especially with Affliction hooking up with Golden Boy. But for right now I'm focused on EliteXC and I think this card, while a make or break one, has all the makings of a "make" instead of "break". As long as it doesn't fall apart production wise like the first one and doesn't bore the casual fans to tears like the second one EliteXC might just hit the sweet spot here and save themselves from following the same path as so many before them that have tried to challenge the UFC for a piece of the pie. I can't wait for the fights and I can't wait to see how the drama behind the fights unfolds. Hope you'll all tune in! Stay tuned for my TUF review later this week. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...