As of my typing this we are a mere six minutes from the debut of mixed martial arts on major network television. I'm actually nervous about what is going to happen. No middle ground tonight, this will either be a landmark event or it could possibly hurt the legitimacy of the sport in the eyes of the mainstream media.
Starting at 9:00pm Eastern I'll be here with thoughts and results as the event unfolds on CBS. After the event stick around for even more thoughts from Luke Thomas who is in attendance and will have tons to report back on.
One very odd thing though as I just now noticed that Tivo is listing the event with Lawler vs. Steel as the headlining bout. Also they just ran a brief ad on the credits of CSI which included the line "Gina Carano takes on college co-ed Kaitlin Young." College co-ed? Really? That's how we're advertising the fight?
The broadcast kicks off with the cheesy dancing ladies. But Gus Johnson's voice adds such an air of legitimacy to things. Johnson does discuss that the sport is brutal and violent. Which is smart in my eyes. Address it up front. Also there was a very nice video package to show Frank Shamrock as a badass. It's a very nice way to say "hey...the guys calling the action know their stuff."
The official attendance is 8,033.
****Main Card Spoilers below the fold****
Brett Rogers vs. Jon Murphy - Heavyweights - Busta Rhymes comes out rapping before Brett walks out. I'm a big Rogers fan so I'm looking forward to this scrap. It isn't a huge deal...but man is Jimmy Lennon Jr. about 1000x better than Bruce Buffer or what? Round 1 - Rogers takes the center of the cage right away. Rogers dirty boxing is nice early in but Murphy landed a nice uppercut of his own. Rogers with a huge right hook drops Murphy and the fight is over. Beautiful KO after some really nice striking on the inside. Right before the final hook Rogers hurt Murphy with a combo. Brett Rogers wins by KO - Right Hook - Round 1. Brett Rogers is asked about quitting his day job and being a full time fighter. Would he like to fight Kimbo next? "I'll fight anybody Gary puts in front of me. I does work!"
Phil Baroni vs. Joe Villasenor - 185 lbs - This is coming off very low-rent. There are girls dancing with Baroni, then they rip his shirt off as he walks to the ring. If you want to talk about how this isn't pro wrestling, don't have entrances that are twice as lame. Let fighters walk to the ring, get checked, get announced and fight. Round 1 - Joey with a high kick which Phil catches and takes him down with. Throws a flurry and then lets Villasenor stand back up. Left hook lands for Villasenor and Baroni is hurt. Guillotine choke he lets go and starts to tee off. Baroni drops and it is OVER! WOW! How Baroni was favored I do not know. I'm glad though as I gladly threw down on Smokin' Joe. Joe Villasenor wins by KO - Punches - Round 1. Baroni is now a .500 fighter. He got beat standing is the other thing of note. The choke came after a punch and the choke took what little Phil had in his gas tank. After that it was the KO. Baroni has now been straight beaten up in two fights in a row. One hour into the show and there has been about 3 minutes of fighting.
Kaitlin Young vs. Gina Carano - 140 lbs - Of course the weight on this is off as Gina didn't make the cut. We'll see if they address that on the broadcast. I'm still upset with the pre show ad talking about how Gina was taking on "the college co-ed" but whatchagondo? They interview Gina before the fight and she says "I didn't have much time to focus on the fight" which comes across amazingly poorly. They just kind of gloss over the weight issues...they were mentioned, but just treated as kind of "oh well." Round 1 - Gina with some good punches and then a takedown. Kaitlin stands back up. Big right for Gina and Kaitlin looks hesitant. Right hook lands for Young. Big "Gina" chant and Young gets a takedown. Gina is on the bottom trying to work her legs up high but Kaitlin passes to half guard. The ref is screaming "gotta work" as she is working to improve position. They go back to standing and Gina is dominating on the feet. But her mouth is open and the chest is heaving. 10-9 round for Gina as the bell rings. Round 2 - Kaitlin looks a little better here as Gina is slowing down a touch. Cut kicks from Young and you see some rhythm. Gina returns the strikes. Kaitlin is hurt by a shot. This is a hell of a scrap. Knee to the body followed by a 1-2 for Kaitlin. Body kick hurts Young. Gina is hurting her bad with flurries now. Front kick drops Kaitlin. Gina has her back. Twenty seconds left. The round ends as Gina secured the choke. 10-9 again for Gina. Kaitlin had enough moments to barely escape a 10-8 round. Round 3 - Nevermind...there will be no third round. The doctors stop the fight as Kaitlin sits on her stool saying "why?" Man...that was a great scrap, but I still can't be too high on Gina considering the weight issues. Gina Carano wins by TKO - Between rounds stoppage - Round 3.
Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith - Elite XC Middleweight Championship - They're running way behind schedule. 25 minutes left in the "scheduled time" and 2 fights left, with this one being a 5 rounder. Scott from Badlefthook just pointed out that CBS may have a lot of affiliates who are upset that "human cockfighting" gets in the way of the evening news. Round 1 - The announcers are very positive that this will end in a KO. Mauro talks about how this could be the Bonnar/Griffin of EXC. Which is really odd...talking up your competition and all. They're being patient to start out as Lawler backs up. The crowd is booing a minute in. Right hand hurts Smith and now he is backing up. Lawler is throwing some serious heat behind his punches. But it looks like Smith has gotten his legs back. The crowd is booing again, which is insane considering that these guys are throwing serious power shots. High kick glances Lawler and they start exchanging combos. Lawlerwith a dirty boxing uppercut hook combo. They're booing again, this is an awful crowd as far as I can tell. Body shot hurts Smith bad. Flashbacks anyone? Lawler with another body shot. More body shots and Smith is hurt badly. Lawler flurries ad the round ends. 10-8 round for Lawler easy. Round 2 - Smith looks somewhat recovered but there are serious dents in the armor (specifically around the torso). Lawler looks fantastic so far. Smith is being reduced to hoping he lands a bomb. More booing from this horrible crowd. This has been a striking war and they're booing...so nothing is going to be good enough for them. Body shot from Smith and he follows with two huge knees from the thai clinch and now is unloading with punches. Now Lawler is smashing him from the clinch. Lawler is now fully in control as Smith is stuck against the cage and can't establish anything. They are absolutely going for it here. Just throwing bombs back and forth. Smith's chin is amazing so far. Lawler's forehead is streaming blood from some inside elbows Smith was throwing. Much better round for Smith and he was taking a beating at times. 10-9 Lawler (20-17 on my card). The replay shows the cut came from a headbutt. Round 3 - More leg kicks from Smith. I'm so fixated on what is going on that I didn't type for almost a minute and a half...which is a long time for me when I'm blogging. Smith backs him up and of course Lawler comes firing back. This time with elbow strikes. Shot attempt from Lawler leads to nothing. Almost shot into a choke though. Finger to the eye and the action is stopped. Lawler took a big poke to his right eye. Smith says he just needs a minute and he'll be fine. The doctor stops the fight even though Smith seems perfectly fine. I don't get this at all. If he says he can see, and wants to continue...this is a horrible stoppage. There is only one guy on an eye poke who can say if he can see and continue...and it ain't the doctor, it's the fighter. This hurts EXC badly. This was a great fight and it ends on a finger in the eye. Hopefully the rematch will draw a good rating. Smith is still saying "I said to give me my five minutes and I'd be good..." I jumped the gun calling this a TKO. They still could (and should) call it a no contest considering that it hadn't passed 3 rounds. The fight is declared a No Contest. I still say this is an absolute awful stoppage. They're saying Smith said he "could not see" when he actually was saying "I need my five minutes." Gary Shaw says he is giving both fighters their win bonuses and they will have a rematch. You get 5 minutes after a foul. you're allowed to say you want to wait 5 minutes to let your vision get back to 100%. The doctor is supposed to give him his entire 5 minutes before they make that decision. The athletic commission basically just said that you need to lie and say that you're ready to continue when you aren't rather than get the 5 minutes that the rules state you are to receive. That is just horrible. By the way, the scorecards had the fight even after the first 2 rounds.
Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson vs. James Thompson - Heavyweights - Frank Shamrock with the dumbest quote of the night. "If anyone can beat Kimbo it is James Thompson" Round 1 - Thompson goes for the takedown early and gets him there at 26 seconds of the first round. Thompson is throwing hammer fists but Kimbo stands up nicely. Thompson with a quick double leg. No major damage done so far but he is in half guard and passes to side control. Great job of getting back to the feet by Kimbo. Thompson is going for a guillotine but couldn't sink it in. Kimbo is having to prove himself here and is doing a good job. Kimbo ends up on top as they go to the ground again. Kimbo's GnP interests me a lot. Neck crank from Kimbo and he slips off and falls. Thompson gets to side control and secures Kimbo's arm. Thompson is going for a kimura but a beautiful sweep by Slice and he is on top now. Thirty seconds left in the round and Kimbo is in Thompson's guard. The first round ends. 10-9 Thompson for me. Kimbo didn't do any real damage, Thompson got takedowns and sub attempts. Round 2 - Well...I won money for predicting a second round. Sweet. Kimbo avoids a takedown. Kimbo with a few good shots and Thompson eats them. He is hurt but still trying for the takedown. Single leg attempt by Thompson and he gets it. Choke attempt by Thompson but Kimbo doesn't have body control. Side control for Thompson. Elbows from Thompson. Thompson had side control and it is stood up. I don't like that. Left hook right hand and thompson is hurt but still going. Takedown for Thompson. Thompson is answering questions about his chin for real. If he had some big time ground and pound he could be winning this fight big. The ref is saying nothing is going on as Thompson has the crucifix and is landing elbows. Thompson is putting it on him with 45 seconds left. Kimbo just ate shots for about a minute straight. They weren't huge but he lost that round easy. And he is fully gassed. 10-9 for Thompson again. 20-18 for James on my card. Round 3 - Thompson just needs to not get KO'ed. He eats a right hand though. Thompson's ear popped. Kimbo is unloading and Dan Mirgliotta stops the fight...that is a horrible stoppage. If that is a stoppage then the end of the second round was a stoppage. THAT IS AWFUL. I don't normally say things like this but Kimbo was getting stand-ups when there shouldn't have been stand-ups, he was allowed to do nothing but eat shots for over a full minute and got a gift stoppage at the end of the fight. This was as close to a dirty ref job as I've ever seen. Kimbo Slice wins by TKO - Ref Stoppage - Round 3. Kimbo is getting booed. The one way you could kill the hype train is to make people think the fix was in. This was horrible. The last 2 fights had such bad endings that this is brutal for EXC. Kimbo can't even talk he is so gassed. He said the ref did a good job because he was going to aim for his ear.