CBS MEDIA DAY QUOTESCBS Studio 4, Monday, May 19, 2008
There was a fantastic turnout at CBS Media Day for the historic Saturday, May 31 primetime EliteXC telecast on CBS (9 p.m.-11 p.m. ET/PT). The announce team for “CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS’’ was announced, fighters demonstrated the rules of mixed martial arts and press had the opportunity to ask CBS and EliteXC executives, promoters, fighters and announcers questions pertaining to the sport and the highly anticipated event at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
EliteXC stars Nick Diaz and Jake Shields demonstrated rules of the sport and the most common techniques utilized by MMA fighters. Legendary Frank Shamrock served as emcee for the demonstration.
CBS Media Day was action packed and informative. Open workouts were performed by Gina Carano and Kimbo Slice. Senior Executive VP, CBS Primetime, Kelly Kahl, Executive Chairman, ProElite, Inc., Doug DeLuca and Live Events President, EliteXC, Gary Shaw discussed the first primetime broadcast of MMA with the media.
EliteXC fighters Kimbo Slice, Gina Carano, Robbie Lawler, Scott Smith and Phil Baroni also discussed the history-making event.
The CBS announce team of play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson, analysts Frank Shamrock and Mauro Ranallo and reporter Karyn Bryant were announced. David Dinkins, Jr., who will produce the telecast, was also part of the festivities.
Kimbo Slice, of Perrine, Fla., will face England’s James “Colossus’’ Thompson in the mainevent on CBS. Other televised fights: EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler of St. Louisdefends against Scott Smith of Sacramento, Calif., Phil Baroni of Long Island, N.Y., meets JoeyVillasenor of Albuquerque, N.M. in a 185-pound scrap; Brett Rogers of Minneapolis takes on Jon Murphy of Philadelphia in a heavyweight match; and Gina Carano of Las Vegas will face hard-hitting, confident Hook ‘n Shoot champion Kaitlin Young of Circle Pines, Minn., in a women’s fight at 140 pounds
Tickets for the live event start at $25 and are available at Ticketmaster locations, by phone (201) 507-8900, online at www.ticketmaster.com and at the Prudential Center box office (973) 757-6625. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. ET. The first live fight is at 6:30.
What the fighters, promoters, executives and announcers had to say at CBS Media Day:
“It’s my honor to promote this show in primetime. This event is probably the single biggest thing to ever happen in the sport of mixed martial arts. The fact you will get this for free is huge for MMA. It is something we are very proud to bring you.
“More eyeballs will watch this show than has seen any other fight in the world.
“I want to thank Doug Deluca and a few other people who got together and started this thing. (It started) On a napkin (and) they wrote some notes. Eighteen months later, we are on CBS.
“I want to thank Ken Hershman at SHOWTIME. He was truly the visionary of this. Without him, we wouldn’t be here today.
“For me this is a milestone in my career. Boxing hasn’t been on network TV in a long time. This is huge.
“Nothing can be bigger for our company. To these fighters, this is it. The morning after May 31 they will be cult heroes. It (their CBS appearances) will change their lives dramatically.
“To the athletes that signed with EliteXC, we have delivered something that has never been delivered in MMA.
“Doug Deluca said that he wants MMA to be in the Olympics in 2012. If this can happen, maybe that can happen.
“ I believe the future of the sport is resting on our shoulders. If we don’t have the largest MMA audience, I will hang myself. That will make for great live television.
“It will be a fast format on Saturday night. We are in a five-fight format, it’s going to move. It will resonate because it is fast-paced action. The stoppages are fast, the action is fast. You don’t get 12 rounds of a boring fight; you get non-stop action and high energy throughout the night.
“On EliteXC, you are not going to watch two guys having a love fest on the ground. You are going to see an exciting fight.
“Fighters are the most important thing in our company. We work for the fighters. I want our fighters to be bigger than ProElite and EliteXC.
“We have a great farm system. We try and get them started on our ShoXC series and them put them on SHOWTIME and maybe someday on CBS.
“No organization owns all the best fighters and no organization owns all the best fights. UFC got this started, but we are coming now. When UFC looks through the rearview mirror, we are on their bumper. We are just drafting right now.
“When we sign fighters we allow them to fight in other organizations. People that fight for us enjoy that special freedom
“There are a lot of important things that we can do to help MMA. Putting other organizations against each other is one of them. Imagine if we could do a show of UFC vs. EliteXC. We are willing to do that.
“The great thing about MMA is that a loss in MMA is not devastating like a loss in boxing.
“About the Robbie Lawler-Scott Smith fight: This is a fight that I don’t want to be a promoter for. I would rather be up in the stands watching it.
“If we can send women to war, then they should fight on TV. I thank Ken Hershman for putting Gina on in the beginning, and look at us now.
“When you start getting a lot of positive and a lot of negative coverage, you’ve arrived. Kimbo is going to get a lot of shots taken against him because he is on CBS. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not pleasurable to read. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory.
“We spent a lot of time putting together the announce team. We were looking for a great mixture and the perfect recipe.
“We will probably have some bumps and some criticism. But we are ultra confident that we will bring the arena experience right into your room.
“We are all about the sport. If we don’t succeed in growing the sport, it will die on the vine.
“Every time we do these fights it gets bigger and bigger. Gus (Johnson) likes the violence, I like the fast pace. That is what boxing is missing.”
“We are thrilled to be bringing mixed martial arts to a wide audience. It’s been fun watching the kind of publicity and excitement. We have some great fighters and it all culminates on May 31.
“We’re going to start with the four fights (broadcasts) and in success hopefully expand that further. We’re very excited about the 31st.
“We really don’t know what to expect; it is fun watching the interest level grow. The bar for success isn’t all that high. We really don’t know what to expect, but we’re anticipating good things.
“I hate to say the bar is really low on Saturday night. We do OK but we’re hoping to see an improvement on what we do. Hopefully we see an increase in the younger demographics.
“You’re going to get a bigger audience with tape delay on the west coast. We’re trying to get the biggest audience out of this.
“It’s a little bit of a hybrid of entertainment and sport. This is certainly a sport.
“To get new fans in to the fold, we really want to build the sport and one way to do that is to maximize the sport as best we can.
“I’m struck by the athleticism of these guys. These are world class athletes. They do not walk out of a bar and into a cage; they walk out of a gym and into to a cage.
“We are already planning to introduce this to a casual fan. This is really going to hum along. You are not going to see a lot of waiting. When one fight is done, we are teeing the next one up right away.
“We are always looking for opportunities. This is an example where opportunity meet a need. On Saturday night, CBS did not have a lot going on. It used to be a place for great event programming, and this is a chance to get back at that.
“We spoke to a lot of different organizations and EliteXC and ProElite felt like the best fit. They have a great relationship with SHOWTIME and it worked out well.”
“It is also important to us to grow the sport. You’re going to see some amazing stars and athletes in the next few years.
“There seems to be a heightened interest now. That is a great thing for the sport, for CBS and for EliteXC.
“These guys are some of the best athletes in the world. The world is going to see that on May 31. We have a great roster of fighters and we are loyal to them.
“CBS has been a fan and watched this sport grow from its infancy to where it is today. We started our partnership with Ken Hershman and SHOWTIME. CBS invested and waited to see how things went. It was extremely successful on SHOWTIME and it has progressed to CBS.
“It has been a big year and a half for us and the sport of MMA. This is a sport that will be here for a long time. It will continue to grow, and ProElite is dedicated to helping it grow.
“These fighters deserve a big congratulation. They will be taking part in the biggest day in MMA.
“We are committed to great content. We are building a global network of MMA. We are going to create a great MMA umbrella that will help this sport progress. It is all coming together in a major way. We are ready to go on CBS.
“I think this will be a work in progress. This is a hybrid between entertainment and sport. We will hit all categories of fans on Saturday night.
“Most of the people who have not watched the sport have not liked it. Everyone who watches it with an open mind becomes a fan. We want to teach the non-fan to become a fan. On May 31 we hope to make that happen.
“There is a lot of pressure for the sport. If this doesn’t do well on network TV, it doesn’t do well for the sport. Pressure is not a problem, we are excited by it.”
“It’s great to be here with all these famous MMA stars. It’s great for me to come here and get to travel around a little bit.
“I just fought in Japan and will be fighting again June 14 on SHOWTIME in Hawaii. Looking forward to a worthy opponent, so we’ll see how it goes. I am looking forward to fighting on SHOWTIME. It’s always good to be fighting on live TV like that.
“I’m happy to be with EliteXC. It’s been a wild ride and I’m happy to be on board.’’
“It’s pretty good to get this out to the general public why media needs to be involved and learn about the sport. I’m ready to fight on May 31. I’ll be ready to go.”
“I love the workouts because probably half these people here have no idea what MMA is about. It’s good for the public to come out and see the guys’ personalities. The more exposure these guys get the more people get to see their personalities.
“Lawler? I couldn’t ask for a better opponent. When I signed with EliteXC, there were three fighters that I looked at and said, ‘these would make fun fights’ This is definitely one of them..
“I’m honored to be a part of this historic event. This is an absolute dream fight for me. I never ask for the easiest fights. This fight with Lawler is going to be one of those fights that you continue to replay over and over.
“I think my first fight for EliteXC I was under a little pressure. For this title fight I don’t feel that I’m under any pressure. This fight is huge and we are all very proud to be a part of it.”
“I think it’s important to remember we’re not just female fighters. We’re fighters. This is going to be one of the toughest fights of my life and I hope you guys enjoy it.
“When it comes down to it there are just two fighters in there. I am anticipating one of the hardest fights in my life. It is exciting, but it is just another fight. Fights speak for themselves.
“There are a lot of female fighters in the world, the public just needs to warm up to them.”
“I have been here kicking butts and speaking in the cage from the very beginning. The only difference is we have CBS and SHOWTIME behind us.
“I broke my arm in my last fight in on SHOWTIME. This bone simulator is supposed to help my bones grow faster. I am wearing it now and will be fighting again in September. Welcome to MMA.
“I’ve been in the business for a really long time. I always knew this day would come. It’s the greatest sport in the world and the greatest lifestyle in the world. I’m proud to say I’m a mixed martial artist.
“I’ve invested my entire life in to this sport. I put my entire future in the success of this sport. For me it’s an art form and a lot of these guys want to be respected in their art.
“I’ll train this commentary team to kick any other commentary team’s butt.”
“I’m going to knock this kid out. I am going to send him back to New Mexico in a body bag. He has a big mouth, and I am going to shut it. He’s not here, so what can I say.
“The real tough guys fight in cages. Hit the books, don’t throw hooks. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Stay in school.
“Everybody here is a fighter. Kimbo started on the street. That’s where I started out. We are all fighting for something.”
“I’m feeling healthy again and I can’t wait to fight again.”
“I’ve been fighting since I was 13. I’ve been having my fights recorded for about five years now and look where it took me.
“I don’t know anything about my opponent.
“When I was fighting on the street there was no training.”
DAVID DINKINS, JR. :
“We wanted to fill all the requirements. Frank is an expert. Mauro is an MMA historian. Karyn is a great MMA fan and reporter and Gus is one of the best announcers out there.
“We are sensitive to the violence level. I think we are going to see how fast we can go. We are usually able to take a lot of liberties on pay per view and SHOWTIME. We don’t want it to be too graphic and we don’t want to turn people off, but we want to be true to the sport.
“The refs are on top of things. There isn’t a chance of sustained concussions. This sport is very safe.
“It is sport and entertainment. What makes the stars stars is that there is the special X factor of the entertainment portion. If we are not properly broadcasting this, we are not doing our jobs. What makes this special is the arena experience. It will be a smooth running story of the night that we plan to broadcast. There will be some challenges with the commercials, but we will show you the whole night.”
“Hopefully our approach is to not only highlight what these athletes do in the ring, but (other things). I want to know about Kimbo Slice and how he was one of the Top 10 linebackers in the U.S. and then Hurricane Andrew hits. I want to know more about Gina Carano. Those are the kinds of things we want to talk about on a regular basis.
Our team will approach this the same way we approach the NFL on CBS, the NCAA on CBS. Mixed martial arts is the sport of the future. It’s about kids, not 30-year-olds like us. What America is going to see is guys going out there and fighting.”
“For me it is an honor to have the opportunity to work with ProElite and EliteXC. I think that MMA is the sport of the future. I have called all the big sports, but what I like about this sport is you get to see athletes who will leave it all out in the ring. You will see non-stop action, and that is exciting.
“We will tell America what we see. We won’t be edited by anyone. We want to tell a positive story.
“From a boxing perspective, the purists don’t understand it. They don’t understand that the hardest part is on the ground. Our challenge is through a Frank and Mauro to educate America on what they are seeing. Then there will be much more of an appreciation for what they are watching.
“If boxing is the sweet science, then MMA is quantum physics.”
“I think it’s really important for people to understand that the women watching the sport were brought along by their boyfriend and left a screaming fan. I want to thank CBS because I think it’s going to be an incredible endeavor. I’ve been working boxing for a few years and the excitement that I have for boxing and MMA is real. There are a lot of us that enjoy the sport and enjoy the athleticism.
“I got into MMA several years ago hanging out with (pro MMA fighter) Malaipet and having my husband come home from training with him and having to put a steak on his eye. MMA is a lifestyle and it truly is. A lot of the friends that I have are from my husband’s fight club.”
“I want to thank everyone for finally bringing the greatest sport in the world to network TV primetime. We have finally arrived. These are the best athletes in the world. You will very quickly find out that these are the best athletes and some of the nicest people outside of the cage.
“There is no one else who deserves to be calling a fight as much as Frank Shamrock. He is a legend in this sport.
“I love how EliteXC allows us to talk about every sport. The sport is mixed martial arts, MMA, not UFC.”