June 1, 2008

EliteXC Cheers and Jeers

Last night was the debut of EliteXC MMA on CBS. This is the first time that MMA has been on network prime time television, so it was kind of a big deal. Those who have been following MMA for a while remember the days when you couldn't even see MMA on basic cable (June 2002 on "The Best Damn Sports Show, Period" was the first time).

MMA has come a long way since then, expanding out from the UFC to many different promotions, each with its own spin on what MMA should be.

Regardless of your opinion about the specifics, last night was a watershed moment for MMA moving into the mainstream. I think that CBS and EliteXC got a lot of things right, for what they were trying to do. But they also screwed a lot of things up that could have made the night a lot better. I'll break it down for you "Cheers and Jeers" style:

Cheers - to CBS for even trying to put MMA on in prime time. That's a bigger gamble than most people realize. You don't see much boxing on network TV, and MMA can be a lot bloodier.

Jeers - to EliteXC for borrowing so much from the WWE. All of the fighter entrances looked like something out of Raw. An MMA fight should be a big show, but the lights and smoke make it look more like theater than a fight.

Cheers - to CBS and EliteXC for spending the money to make the production values look good. This didn't look like a third-rate event, they went all out on cameras and graphics to make sure no one said that it looked like a poor man's UFC.

Jeers - to EliteXC for putting out such crappy fights. I'm no MMA expert, but it was pretty obvious that this was not quite UFC. The fights were very sloppy and I was yelling out corner instructions from my couch.

Cheers - to EliteXC for hyping up Kimbo Slice. He may not be the greatest fighter in the world, but it's great to have some household names in MMA.

Jeers - to Gina Carano for missing weight. Carano is an American Gladiator and the so called "face of women's MMA." This was her big chance to legitimize female mixed martial arts in front of a huge audience. Instead she missed weight (by 4.5 pounds! WTF!?), fought an ugly fight, and admitted afterwards that her heart wasn't in it. Apparently the only think keeping women's MMA going is the fact that she's kind of hot. That's not going to be enough to make it succeed (unless she poses in Playboy, Gina Carano naked might be enough to give distaff fighting a chance).

Cheers - to Kimbo Slice's chest hair. I thought manicured man-rugs had gone out of style after Austin Powers' heart, but I guess not.

Jeers - to the doctor overseeing the fights. She stopped two of the fights, neither of which looked like a necessary stoppage. The chick fight was stopped because one of the girls had some swelling below her eye (it didn't look that bad), and the championship fight was stopped because Scott Smith got poked in the eye. He told the doctor he couldn't see but needed the whole five minutes (stupid), but she stopped the fight anyway. It's an arguable decision, but it was the worst possible thing to happen for EliteXC and CBS.

Cheers - to Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith for putting on the best fight of the night (until it was stopped). They went toe-to-toe and the momentum swung back and forth for two and a half rounds. It looked like Lawler had the upper hand, but there was a good chance that Smith could have caught him with a knee or an elbow and ended the fight. I guess we'll have to wait for the rematch to find out.

Jeers - to the fans in Newark. They were clearly there to see Kimbo Slice, not a whole card of MMA fights. A minute in to the Lawler-Smith fight, the fans started booing because there wasn't enough action. The fight wasn't even moving that slowly. I thought the crowds at UFC and EliteXC would be the same kind of people, but apparently UFC crowds are much more knowledgeable and appreciative of the finer points of MMA.

Jeers - to the CBS announcing crew. They seemed mostly clueless about what was going on, from missing a kimura attempt for about 30 seconds to freaking out over a "guillotine" attempt when the fighter had an arm trapped (it's tough to execute a front choke when you have both the head and arm locked). They made me really appreciate Joe Rogan.

Overall, it was an entertaining, though flawed, show. I'll definitely be tuning in to future installments.

4 Responses:

Anonymous said...

Although Frank Shamrock couldn't read his lines at all last night, Gus Johnson was OUTSTANDING. I'm sure Gus didn't have a lot of previous MMA announcing experience, but he really made the whole show work.

kNuke said...

I agree with most of your points, but Kimbo's not ready for MMA yet. He needs to train, his chest hair ain't going to win him too many more matches!

One thing we definitely agree on is that Gina is hot and needs to be in Playboy!

big tuna said...

so did it beat hockey in the ratings? I assume it did.

Brien said...

Looks like the numbers were about the same.

Each one had about 4.3M viewers.

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