MMA News from the Weekend
EliteXC on CBS - Saturday May 31st
Sure most fans coming in expected a freakish atmosphere for this fight. A well known brawler from Miami in Kimbo who made a name for himself by posting his street fights on YouTube, now in his 3rd professional MMA fight taking on a veteran of the sport, James Thompson from England who's brutal knockout losses and entertaining brawls forced him into the label of freak show fighter, not to mention his ugly cauliflower ear that should have been drained before the fight. These two combined to be the headlining fight of MMA's network tv debut. Reports are that the ratings of EliteXC's Saturday Night Fights on CBS were stellar for the timeslot and the coveted demographics, specifially the 18-34 year old males.
From Sherdog.com - "EliteXC "Primetime" scored a 2.7 rating in its 9-11pm slot, with all data still pending for the card's main event, after the show ran one hour past it's scheduled slot.
According to a Showtime press release, CBS enjoyed first place ratings in adults 25-54 (1.9), adults 18-49 (1.9), adults 18-34 (1.9), men 25-54 (2.6), men 18-49 (2.5), and men 18-34 (2.6).
The network also saw substantial gains in the Saturday primetime slot with the coveted young male demographics, including a 127% rise in men 18-49 and a whopping +271% jump in men 18-34."
Much credit to Kimbo, Gary Shaw, and EliteXC on bringing more eyeballs to the sport. Hopefully the majority of the casual viewers enjoyed the show and are intrigued to watch more established organizations in the future. If the ratings on CBS turn out to be a huge success (who knows how CBS actually reacts to the numbers) it's only a matter of time before more networks jump on board MMA programming.
Even if the event wasn't the most accurate assessment of MMA, it did produce some quality moments. Robbie Lawler vs Scott Smith was nothing short of a slugfest. Unfortunately an inadvertant eye poke forced the ringside doctor to stop the fight and result in a no contest, even though Smith was allowed 5 minutes to recover yet seemingly never given. Gina Carano vs Kaitlin Young was an interesting mix of two fighters with backgrounds in muay thai. Both fighters showed their hearts in this fight but Gina was just that much better and beat Kaitlin to the punch / kick each time they exchanged. Gina also got to show the rarely attempted Gogoplata, her ground game keeps improving it seems. Fight ended after the 2nd round when the ref stopped it due to swelling under Kaitlin's left eye. Joe Villasenor dominated Phil Baroni for a quick TKO, same goes for Brett Rogers who knocked Jon Murphy outa the fight around the 1 minute mark. Unseen on the under card was a bjj clinic from Wilson Reis who is looking like a legit prospect to watch out for in the future.
Post Fight Press Conference - Rogers calls out Kimbo
At the post fight press conference, fellow EliteXC fighter Brett Rogers was asked about the event and responded by calling Kimbo's fight garbage. Kimbo stood up and asked him to formally challenge him to fight, and his crew aided him by calling Rogers a hater (realist might fit better). The comments below by Rogers underscore possible resentment by other fighters who feel like they are being pushed aside by a relatively green mma fighter with only 3 pro fights under his belt. Gary Shaw, EliteXC's promoter says a match between the two will not happen anytime soon, unfortunately.
From FightHype.com - Brett Rogers on Kimbo vs. Thompson...
"Man, when I watch that fight again ma, I see the same sh** I saw the first time. Don't get me wrong, Kimbo entertainment-wis, he does his thing. I can't knock that, but looking at it as fighter to fighter, me being on the same shows as him, it's like I could've been... if I was Thompson, aw man! If I was Thompson, I would've tore him down. It would've been a 1st round again. I done said that I don't know how many times, but it would've been the 1st round situation again. Obviously, he ain't got no wrestling background...."
"I'm shocked that he's not expecting someone to call him out. I'm not the only heavyweight that feels this way so he better check that too. It's a lot of hype around the guy and it's guys that feel like they're being pushed to the side...."
WEC on Versus - Sunday June 1st
Concluding a nice 1-2 of a weekend in MMA, the World Extreme Cagefighting promotion put on an event in Sacramento, California that included their biggest fight to date - their 145lb Featherweight Championship match between champion Urijah Faber and challenger Jens Pulver. As broadcaster Frank Mir predicted, it would be Faber's toughest challenge to date and would not be a first round slaughtering like we've seen from Faber since he joined the WEC. Before this fight most of Faber's fights were similar from start to finish where he would use his agressiveness and wrestling background to work in an early shoot takedown and use vicious ground and pound for a TKO win. This fight however was for the most part all stand up, and only helped show how well versed Faber's overall MMA game truly is. Jens in this fight showed good standup and takedown defense early, but Faber was just too much for him to handle. Faber beat Pulver to the punch for the most part and also getting takedowns late in the fight, working his elbows and punches helped solidify the win. Even though each round went to Faber it was a competetive fight. Both fighters landed alot of flush punches throughout the fight, really testing each other's chin for 25 fan-friendly minutes. Faber won the fight via Unanimous Decision.
The co-main event featured recently crowned 135lb Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres fight a challenger from Japan, Yoshiro Maeda. This fight was crazy. Torres' first two WEC fights were all BJJ clinics, forcing tap outs early in the fights. Maeda is coming off of a TKO win via liver kick. This fight much like the main event was nearly all standup. Both landed effective strikes via punches and kicks the entire fight. The second round was the epitome of MMA, one sequence came straight form the movie, "Kickboxer" as they exchanged body kicks. Than it went to the ground where each went for their own variations of heel hooks and ankle locks. The fight continued in the third with more of the same entertaining striking exchanges, and Torres went after Maeda's swelling left eye which ultimately ended up ending the fight after the third round. The other televised fights included Donald Cerrone's 30 second Armbar win vs Danny Castillo, "Razor" Rob McCullough's somewhat boring Decision win vs Kenneth Alexander and former NCAA champion from Oklahoma State, Mark Munoz's TKO win vs Chuck Grigsby, who's reach proved trouble early but ultimately not enough.
Overall a compelling weekend in Mixed Martial Arts. Hope the fans out there enjoyed some if not all of the action. See ya next week after UFC 85: Bedlam and WVR's Sengoku 3 MMA events are in the books.