Al & I watched Elite XC on Showtime tonight. Some quick notes on the highlights:
We saw our first female MMA bout between Gina Carano and Julie Kedzie (a Hoosier from Greenwood! Who was arrested outside the gates of Ft. Benning along with 300 nuns!). Carano dominated, but Kedzie had some good moments and managed to hang in there against a far superior striker. It was clearly a big deal for the promotion, and the fight didn’t come off as a novelty. They stayed busy, had some interesting moments both in standup and on the ground, and we were both pretty satisfied.
You know what was weird, though? Instead of three five-minute rounds, they fought for three three-minute rounds. They both looked fine at the finish. Beaten up, but fine. I’ve seen male lightweights looking a lot worse at the four minute mark of the second round of their fights. I don’t get that, but I don’t know jack-doodly about womens’ fighting.
The last time we happened to see Wesley “Cabbage” Correira, he was being brutalized by a younger Tim Sylvia. He kind of had that happen to him again, only with a knockout after a savage knee to the jaw instead of merely hanging in there until someone became afraid for his health. It’s pretty weird seeing a guy with a big old beer belly in MMA. We weren’t watching when there were more of his kind of brawler, so when compared to newer fighters he’s a bizarre sight.
The headline bout, Frank Shamrock vs. Renzo Gracie, was supposed to be a war. It was called in the second round when Shamrock kneed Gracie in the back of the head several times on the ground and gave Gracie a concussion. The referee (Herb Dean, a familiar face from UFC) gave the win to Renzo on a disqualification. Shamrock was an ass about the whole thing, implying that silly rules about kneeing your opponent in the back of the head are for dandies and sissies and that he’s “old school.” MMA doesn’t need him running his mouth like that.
The production team didn’t know how to deal with the stoppage, either. It clearly threw everyone for a loop. While I was grateful the cameras were able to catch a little of the deliberation going on as the referee talked to the officials, I can’t imagine UFC would have gone deer in the headlights the way this crowd did.
One other thing: Having Bill “Ex-Professional Wrestler” Goldberg as part of the ringside announcer team left a bad taste in my mouth. His co-announcer referred deferentially to his undefeated record in wrestling and it made me wonder if the guy had his head screwed on straight or was just afraid of getting stuck in a headlock because he accidentally baited the ex-professional phony.
The production values? Eh. UFC runs a much tighter ship. Less downtime, they keep the fighters from running their mouths for too long after the match, and they let the fighters near the crowd as they walk to the ring, which really adds to the sense of energy. Tonight’s show had the fighters walking out of a giant dragon’s mouth and down a runway. It made them look small and isolated, and the dragon was kind of stupid.
Verdict? Some decent fights, a few lemons, not a ton to complain about. It’s a gaudy promotion clearly hoping for juice from having a deal with Showtime, but it has a ways to go. We’ll tune in again, but maybe not with as much anticipation.