I hired a photographer for the event thinking that cage side, I could offer some really great picks. Unfortunately, they positioned my photographer too far away given the lens we brought, so the best pictures I can provide are all wide angle shots. I'll have them up by the end of the day.
But let's get to last night's event:
1. EliteXC has a major problem, re: Kimbo Slice. Clearly Slice has vicious punching power, clean boxing and good athleticism, but that's about it. Watching him last night reminded me just how much better the UFC heavyweights actually were. Of course, everyone knows Slice isn't a top heavyweight, but it's hard to watch a MMA event when the main events have limited skill sets. Even Tim Sylvia's escape from the bottom of Nogueira - one that ended in a choke - was at least moderately textbook. Slice seemed to rely on powering out of bad positions, which further exacerbated his cardio problems. Gina Carano is still a powerful star for the budding promotion, but Slice may not be. He is in no position to fight anyone like Brett Rogers or Roy Nelson and the list of other contenders he can beat at this point will only solidify his status as a tomato can beater. This is the peril of putting on a developing MMA fighter as the main event attraction. The reputation Slice could earn may be unfair, but it's a reputation he'll earn nonetheless. Where he goes from here is unclear. And whether he ever achieves top 10 status is highly questionable given the wrestling and jiu-jitsu we saw on display.
2. Yup, I overhyped Kaitlin Young. I thought she performed admirably and is clearly very tough, but Carano's Thai boxing pedigree was on display last night. I got it very wrong and there's nothing to do but recognize the fact and move forward. I still wish Carano would make weight.
3. Before I forget, what happened to the poise of Kimbo Slice? Here was a guy who was known for being ice cold when the cage door shuts yet looked incredibly frustrated when things weren't going his way. Slice says he likes to beat up bullies, but he seems to be more of a bully than he realizes. That is, it's easy to pick on easy prey, but it's a different matter when other men can stand up to you. If you can weather Slice's early storm, that cold look and composure of his takes a hit. Maybe that will improve over time as he keeps learning in this sport, but I was very surprised by that.
4. The undercard rocked. The main card bouts were what they were, but the undercard was fantastic. Stand out performances by Wilson Reis and Zach Makovsky were a pleasure to watch. Most importantly, while the main card was a designed effort on the part of Gary Shaw to feature strikers, the undercard was all about real mixed martial arts: wrestling, boxing, jiu-jitsu and everything in between. If you get an opportunity to see those fights, I highly recommend you do so.
5. I hate mixed martial arts fan. Not all of them of course, but I can't even describe to you how much I loathe the functional retards who come to these shows. It's as bad at UFC events as it is at any other. I wish there were a way to offer free tickets to some of these people in exchange for castration (the women are generally not the problem).
6. I met a lot of journalists and bloggers last night, so to those I shook hands with, hello and it was a pleasure to meet you.
7. Even at the main event fight time there was virtually no one in the upper deck. I'm a little surprised Shaw couldn't sell 10k tickets or at least paper the event so as to fill the seats.
8. The dancers and the rappers are hideous. Seriously, what is going on here? I realize even basketball has dancers, but they have no place in MMA. Neither fans care to see them nor do they add anything to the product except head scratching. I like that EliteXC makes the effort to put on a show and add performance art to the product, but this isn't the way to do it.
9. All hail Gus Johnson. I didn't get a chance to hear the broadcast yet, but from all accounts he performed splendidly.
10. If there was ever any doubt in your mind who does and understands MMA better, it's the UFC. Period. As I said to Kid Nate last night, the UFC makes mistakes, but they never seem as heavy handed in scripting outcomes as EliteXC did last night. I'm not talking about match fixing, I'm talking about stacking the deck in favor of one fighter. The UFC signs amazing talent, creates compelling match-ups and lets the chips fall where they may. And in that blind trust, a lot of greatness occurs. The UFC has favored fighters in the past, but overall, it hasn't felt as contrived as this. You can make a case Franklin was favored for a while vis a vis Lindland, but he's since been destroyed by Silva twice. Not even Chuck Liddell was spared a dramatic defeat in front of millions. I do love that about the UFC: win, lose or draw, you better earn your keep.
More to come.