For generations, professional sports have been an iconic fixture in American culture. Professional sports are a billion dollar industry that continues to grow and thrive. Unlike the established sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and even boxing, Mixed Martial Arts is still in it’s infancy stage. Yet over the last three years it has garnered significant notoriety and is on the cusp of becoming a mainstream attraction.
The upcoming Elite XC event on May 31st, will make television and mixed martial arts history, becoming the first MMA event to be televised on cable. The success or failure of this event will have major ramifications not just for the Elite XC organization, but the sport in general.
This success will hinge upon the massively broad shoulders of street-brawler, turned MMA sensation, Kimbo Slice. Through his extensive exposure and popularity on youtube, Elite XC has made Slice the cornerstone of their organization. With his grizzly beard, toned, sculpted body, and enormous bling that hangs from his writs and neck, Slice has a marketable look. His affable and Rampage like persona makes him a charismatic and like personality as well. Elite XC is hoping wide spread marketing, marquee fights, and Kimbo Slice will attract big time ratings.
Since Elite XC doesn’t have the depth of talent the UFC has, it decided to showcase fighters who will take part in exciting bouts. The main event will be fought between Kimbo Slice and MMA veteran James Thompson. This will be a good test for Slice and allow fans to gauge the progress he has made. Thompson is no slouch, he can throw hands and has been working on his wrestling at Extreme Couture. Thus far, Slice has been gift wrapped underwhelming opponents with virtually no chance of them beating him. This time, he fights someone who has fought quality fighters and been around the block. If Slice is going to make an impact in the sport and gain creditability (something hardcore fans believe he lacks), then a win against Thompson is a must. If Slice can keep the fight standing, which I believe he will be able to do, then his striking is far superior to that of Thompson’s. It will be critical for Slice to stay focused and not become over eager during his fight. Reverting back to his street brawling days, where he was not very technical, and seemed overly excited could cause a problem with a skilled opponent. If Slice is able to keep his composure this is a very winnable fight for him.
Robbie Lawler versus Scott Smith, for the middleweight belt, promises to be explosive. This fight is tailor made for fans that enjoy action. Both these guys like to throw leather and it is unlike the fight will go to the ground. For first timers watching the sport, an all action fight is exactly what attracts an audience and helps develop a following. Lawler is the more skilled fighter, but at times he stubbornly abandons game plans in order to bang with his opponent. Doing so against Smith could be a mistake because he has showed how heavy his hands. This fight could result in an early KO so try not to blink.
Looks Sexy, Fights Hard
Gina Carano has quickly become the face and spokesperson of woman’s MMA. She has done wonders for women athletes and helped build the foundation of Elite XC. Carano is one of their cash cows and is becoming incredibly marketable as show grows into a household name. Clearly, her good looks enhance the sex symbol status, but make no mistake, this girl can fight! She is a Muay Thai specialist who excels at striking and incorporates knees, elbows, and kicks into her arsenal of weapons. Her previous fight was a war and this time she is matched against an even more explosive opponent, Kaitlin Young. A win would solidify Carano’s place as one, if not the best, woman fighter on the planet. These bouts also help gain interest from a broader audience and allow Elite XC to target women as well.
Finally, heavyweight Brett Rogers, rounds out a well designed fight card against Jon Murphy. Rogers, a budding star in Elite XC who could eventually be pit against Kimbo (if they both continue their winning ways), will once again be facing mediocre competition. Rogers has shown knockout powers (against Kimbo’s opponent Thompson) and good takedown defense. Murphy has been colorful in preflight interviews and although boasting a quality personality and what he claims is a good wrestling base, a knockout of Murphy is not out of the question.
Elite XC has crafted what should be, a very entertaining night of fights. Realizing that many fans will be exposed to the sport for the first time, XC has attempted to offer their best product. In doing so, the organization understood that they have limited talent, so to combat that, they opted to put together fights that will generate the most action. This should be a fantastic night in terms of excitement from top to bottom and as a fan of MMA, I hope it enhances the sports reputation.