What a strange night. The first thing I hear when they come on the air is that Ken Shamrock can't fight due to a cut above his eye that he suffered during warm ups. What the hell? And simply by virtue of living in Orlando Seth Petruzelli (who they billed as a UFC fighter, yeah, 2 losses in the UFC and out) got to step up for chance to win the fight of his life. What a bizarre turn of events. Thank god the card had other fights that I was very interested in watching, but my guess is that a lot of viewers tuned out after hearing that news (they don't have official numbers yet but the preliminary ratings were good, not great). Overall the production value was better than the last two shows finding a better balance of flash for the casual viewer without going overboard but it still feels like a minor league show to me for whatever reason(s). Overall the card was solid but not outstanding even with some big names and talented fighters so I was a little underwhelmed but maybe that's because the night started out so poorly with Shamrock having to be scratched last minute. Anyway, let's get into the fights. Obviously I won't be counting the Kimbo fight in my tally.
* Note: Cyborg won but not as easily as I thought she would but this is great news for EliteXC as this builds perfectly to a Cyborg v. Carano fight early next year.
Murilo "Ninja" Rua v. Benji Radach: This fight was a war! They both came in looking to bang. I didn't like Ninja's strategy though. He didn't utilize his kicks and knees enough to keep Radach at bey. Radach was able to get inside far too often and landed some great power shots. Rua certainly got his licks in as well but ultimately Radach's power was too much and Rua played right into it with his crazy free wheeling style. Radach won by KO in round 2. Obviously I was way off on this one.
Gina Carano v. Kelly Kobold: Carano controlled this fight the whole way. Kobold did her best to stay in the clinch and try and get this fight on the ground but with very little success. She was tough though taking a lot of punishment from Carano on the feet but ultimately losing a decision. I picked this one right on the nose.
Andrei Arlovski v. Roy Nelson: This was a great fight to put on last minute (which Affliction was ecstatic about getting to paste their name all over the ring and advertise non stop during the broadcast). Honestly without this fight this card would've been sorely lacking in star power and would've missed out on a great fight. Nelson did his best in the beginning staying close to Arlovski and pushing him against the cage and even scoring a take down where he landed a few shots. However, like I figured, Arlovski's athleticism and speed was too much for the much larger Nelson. He tired very quickly in the second round and then Arlovski went to work getting the KO in round 2. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
Jake Shields v. Paul Daley: This was also a solid fight. Daley looked very dangerous on his feet but unfortunately he couldn't keep the fight there. Shields' wrestling was too much for Daley and then Daley had absolutely no answer for Shields on the ground getting his guard passed regularly and taking some pretty good punches and elbows before Shields finally got the fight to the center of the ring and could pull out an arm bar in the second round. This fight showed how far Shields has to go in the stand up but proved once again that his wrestling and BJJ can overcome most adversity he faces on his feet. Shields keeps saying how he wants to fight the best in the UFC but obviously with that not happening he talked about moving up to 185 to fight Robbie Lawler. I think this would be a terrible idea for EliteXC. You need your two champions to remain as relevant as possible and having them fight each other would make no sense. If GSP fights Anderson Silva that's different because both are top 5 fighters P4P and a loss wouldn't cripple either's career nor the UFC. However, to EliteXC they need their champions to remain unscathed and to remain viable stars as long as possible so as much as Shields would love that fight I don't think it comes. I'd also like to note that I picked this fight right on the nose as well.
Kimbo Slice v. Seth Petruzelli: In what must've taken a great deal of courage Seth Petruzelli came out and stopped the fight before it started. Petruzelli literally came in on less than a day's notice and being outweighed by over 30 lbs (the guy could've cleared the light heavyweight limit) and knocked Kimbo out in under 15 seconds. Everyone knew Kimbo's 15 minutes was going to end sooner rather than later but I don't think anyone expected this. Granted, Petruzelli has a lot more experience and is younger and quicker. But to knock Kimbo out is pretty remarkable. I don't think Kimbo's chin was in any question before this fight but now it certainly will be. He got knocked out by a guy giving up more than 30lbs with what was a glorified jab. Petruzelli was elated as would be expected but Kimbo seemed surprisingly okay with the result even though you could hear everyone working for EliteXC scream a collective "Oh crap!"
This was the worst possible scenario for EliteXC. I'm not sure they'll be able to recover now that the mystique of Kimbo has burned out. Carano cannot carry a card on her own and EliteXC has no real star power in terms of names the mainstream fan recognizes. Granted it appears that Tito Ortiz is coming over but his career is over and after one or two fights he won't be able to carry a card either. EliteXC has announced their next major card already but after that I'm not sure where they go from here. There's a lot that needs to happen between now and '09 and it should be a very interesting last three months of '08 for EliteXC.
Overall I had a good night going 3-1 with 2 bonus points for picking the fight exactly. Stay tuned for my TUF 8 review later this week. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...