MORE POPULAR THAN SLICED BREAD? KIMBO GETSLONG AWAITED SHOWDOWN WITH TANK ABBOTT FEB. 16 ___________________________________________________________________________________
Slugfest Highlights EliteXC’s “Street Certified” Live MMA Event in Miami;
Sensational Undercard at BankUnited Center Features Big Foot, Scott Smith & More
LOS ANGELES (Feb. 9, 2008) – Are you ready for some February Fireworks? The Street Fight of the Year will take place inside a cage.
In what will be a thrilling heavyweight brawl and South Florida homecoming, the incredibly popular Kimbo Slice (1-0) of Miami will face hard-hitting David “Tank’’ Abbott (9-13) in the main event of “Street Certified” on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami.
Tickets for a spectacular 10-bout event, presented by Los Angeles-based ProElite, Inc.’s EliteXC, start at $35 and are available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com and at the BankUnited Box Office at the University of Miami. Doors open at 7 p.m. The first live fight is at 7:30.
SHOWTIME will televise five fights including the Kimbo-Tank showdown live at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast), while five non-televised undercard matches will be streamed live on the leading MMA internet site, ProElite.com
“There are a lot of fans who’ve waited a long time for two legendary, slugging fighters who built their reputations as street brawlers before turning to mixed martial arts to get it on, and EliteXC is proud to be the ones who finally were able to make it happen,” EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw said.
“I’d hate for longtime, hardcore MMA fans not to get to see the Kimbo-Tank fight come off. It is going to be as thrilling a fight as one can be for as long as it lasts. It may not be fun for one of the fighters, but, from a fans’ point of view, Kimbo versus Tank was a long time coming and sure will be fun to watch.
“From top to bottom, this card is stacked. All the fights are competitive, non-stop action fights with no clear-cut winners. It is what EliteXC is all about. We expect to sell out the BankUnited Center and look forward to putting on a great show for those in attendance and those tuning in on SHOWTIME.”
In addition to Kimbo-Tank, the SHOWTIME telecast will include: Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (9-1), a highly touted Brazilian who lives in Coconut Creek, Fla., and is considered one of the world’s top heavyweights, versus tough contender Ricco Rodriguez (27-7), of Staten Island, N.Y., England’s James “The Colossus” Thompson (16-7) battles unbeaten Brett Rogers (7-0) of St. Paul, Minn., in a heavyweight match, Australian Kyle “The Ozzie” Noke (14-3-1), the bodyguard of the late Steve “Crocodile Hunter’’ Irwin, meets Scott “Hands Of Stone’’ Smith (14-4), of Sacramento, Calif., in a compelling contest at 185 pounds; and Edson “Little Tiger” Berto (14-4-1), of Tampa, Fla., faces Yves Edwards (32-13-1) of Conroe, Tex., in a scrap at 160 pounds.
A non-televised undercard, which will be streamed live at ProElite.com, will include: Rafael Feijao (4-1), of Brazil, vs. John Doyle (6-2), of Allentown, Pa., at 205 pounds; Mike Bernhard (3-0), of Miami, vs. Lorenzo Borgameo (2-0), of Miami, at 170; Eric Bradley (2-1), of Las Vegas, Nev., vs. Mikey Gomez (6-3), of Orlando, Fla., at 170; Mario Rinaldi (6-2), of Miami, vs. Dave Herman (9-0) of Indiana at 265; and Jon Kirk (10-2), of Houston, vs. Yosmany Cabezas (4-0), of Tampa, Fla., at 185 pounds.
Fighter pages (non-televised bouts): Borgameo (http://lorenzoborgame.proelite.com), Bernhard (http://mikebernhard.proelite.com), Bradley (http://ericbradley.proelite.com), Gomez (http://mikeygomez.proelite.com), Rinaldi (http://mariorinaldi.proelite.com), Herman (http://daveherman.proelite.com), Kirk (http://jonkirk.proelite.com), Cabezas (http://yosmanycabezas.proelite.com), Feijao (http://rafaelfeijao.proelite.com), Doyle (http://johndoyle.proelite.com).
In addition to the fights being streamed live, fans can watch pre- and post-fight interviews on ProElite.com. The 10 contests are scheduled for three, 5-minute rounds.
For Kimbo (http://kimboslice.proelite.com), the back-yard brawling street fighter and Internet superstar legend formerly known as Kevin Ferguson, his second MMA start will be a home game.
“I’m looking forward to fighting in Miami, but I just like to fight,” said Kimbo, a natural athlete and star football player in high school. “With these hands I can part the sea. With these hands I feed the family.”
Kimbo grew up bashing the neighborhood bullies in Perrine, Fla., near Miami, which may help explain why he brings the same fervor and edge-of-your-seat anticipation into a cage as Mike Tyson brought to the ring in professional boxing.
Yet, if one can get past the mean, scary, intimidating looks, Kimbo is truly a shy, brutally-honest, funny, marketable man and devout father of six. “I am what I am,” said Kimbo, 33, who was offered an academic scholarship to the University of Miami.
“I’ve learned a lot. There is a time and place for everything.’’
Kimbo, whose YouTube video-taped fights have been downloaded millions of times and made him one of the most popular, widely-recognized figures in the history of the Internet, made a successful transition from Street To Elite by scoring a smashing, electrifying 19-second, first-round knockout over Bo Cantrell in his MMA debut on Nov. 10, 2007, at Corpus Christi, Tex., on SHOWTIME.
Kimbo possesses excellent striking skills. He is a well-conditioned power puncher who comes to war. Yet his ground game is underrated — he just didn’t get the chance to illustrate it during his abbreviated match against Cantrell.
“It’s all good,” said Kimbo, who’s going from the small screen of a computer to the big screen of television for a second time. “But I hope I get a chance to show more of my overall skills in this fight, but you never know. At some point, you’ll see I have a ground game to go along with my standup.’’
A sign of the times, perhaps, Kimbo could be the first superstar athlete to get his start in any professional sport after making a name for himself via the Internet. Outside the cage his career has been on the rise since his memorable EliteXC and SHOWTIME fight, and he is more in demand than ever.
Kimbo was on Jimmy Kimmel Live in early February and ESPN’s “E:60” featured him on a program that aired in December. In an interview during the ESPN segment, Tito Ortiz downplayed Kimbo’s ability, which prompted Shaw to call out Ortiz.
“Any time someone talks either on TV or to a reporter and demeans a fighter or says ‘let’s bring it on,’ I’m willing to do the fight,’’ said Shaw, who’s also one of the leading boxing promoters in the world. “Kimbo would get into the cage with Tito Ortiz any day and would probably knock him out.’’
Ortiz or not, Kimbo is a legitimate force to be reckoned with in ‘08. His goal is to become EliteXC world heavyweight champ. “I have dedicated myself to this and train very hard,’’ he said. “When the time comes to fight for the title, I’ll be ready. You know, though, I feel ready now. I’ll fight anybody.’’
Tank (http://tankabbott.proelite.com) hails from Surf City (Huntington Beach, Calif.), but he is no beach boy. In fact, this rough, tough dude does not ride waves — he makes them. Throughout his career, fans either loved him or detested him because of the reckless way he would attack an opponent or the disdain he would show toward them.
A bad boy with hands that could crush any foe, Tank is a notorious trash-talker that fights with a fury and intensity that has made him an MMA mainstay for many years. No stranger to the big stage or fighting in an opponent’s backyard, the experienced veteran will empty his tank and give it all he’s got.
His nickname tells all: Like a tank, Abbott is designed to engage enemies head-on, using direct two-fisted fire from, in his case, his fists. Be assured a guy that can bench press 600 pounds and competes with a total disregard for his opponents will not respect a fighter with one fight — no matter his reputation.
A true icon of MMA and one of the individuals who helped usher the sport into the mainstream, Abbott does not pull punches – or words – and has long claimed he could put a beating on the massive Slice. Now, a fighter known for being very blunt and telling it like it is will get his opportunity.
“If Kimbo thinks he’s just going to come in and overwhelm me, throw a few punches and knock me out, he is dead wrong,’’ said Tank, who is infamous for his ‘fight anyone anywhere mentality’ and has called out Kimbo numerous times. “People think I’ll be gassed after a few punches and just fall down.
“Everyone is in for a big surprise. This is going to be a fun night for everybody, but especially for me. I’m looking forward to Feb. 16. Once I land – and I will land – you will see what I’m talking about.
Some may say the free swinging Tank possesses more name value than game value these days, but he certainly doesn’t lack confidence. “Watch the YouTube star go down the tubes,’’ the striker supreme said. “I don’t respect anybody in the cage. On Feb. 16, watch the way the Kimbo crumbles.’’
Silva (http://antoniosilva.proelite.com), who has won all nine of his bouts in the opening round, is making his second start since dropping down after competing as a 300-pound super heavyweight.
A rising star, it is Silva’s his first crack at a “name’’ heavyweight and his shot to prove he’s No. 1 in his weight class in EliteXC. In his last outing and first in nine months — a trimmed-down, 265-pound Silva scored an impressive first-round submission (rear naked choke) over hard-trying but outclassed Jonathan Wiezorek (http://jonathanwiezorek.proelite.com) on Nov. 10 at Corpus Christi on SHOWTIME.
Silva possesses excellent striking and grappling skills and moves extremely well for a fighter his size. The six-feet-four-inch Silva has been touted by Shaw as “being the best heavyweight in the world. I know Ricco disagrees, which is why this is going to be a great fight.’’
Offered Silva: “Since dropping to 265 pounds, which I had planned all along, I feel quicker and faster. My best days are ahead of me. I want to continue to stay active. I do not overlook anybody but I would be comfortable fighting any of the biggest-named fighters right now.
“My goal is to prove I’m the No. 1 heavyweight in the world.’’
Rodriguez (http://riccorodriguez.proelite.com) has fought the biggest names in MMA, including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria, Tim Sylvia, Jeff Monson, Andrei Arlovski, Pete Wilson and Randy Couture.
A recent signee with EliteXC, Rodriguez has struggled with well-documented weight and substance abuse issues, even ending up on VH-1’s “Celebrity Rehab’’.
Rodriguez, however, is now lean, clean and headed in the right direction — in and out of the cage. He has won six of his last seven; the loss came in a good performance in a fight he took on short notice with top IFL heavyweight, Ben Rothwell.
Once considered one of the world’s most talented and dangerous heavyweights, Silva is looking to re-establish himself in the division. For sure, he will not be intimidated by Silva.
“Silva is a phenomenal opponent,’’ said Rodriguez, who’s coming off a TKO over Kevin Filal on Dec. 9, 2007. “He’s huge and fast with great speed and agility. I haven’t fought a guy his size but I’ve been training at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas where the guys are serious and the tempo and energy level is always high. So it doesn’t matter who I fight as long as I’m in my best physical shape, which I will be.
“Like me, who once fought at 330 pounds, Silva is coming down from super heavyweight. What EliteXC is doing by basically bringing the best fighters together is a great thing for the fans and sport and I’m happy to be part of it. I definitely feel healthier. I feel 265 will be a great weight for me to fight at.
“It is more than just a fight for me. It’s an opportunity to show the fans, myself and the company I’m not on the downside and can contend with the best. A win gets me back on top and into the spotlight. This is going to be my best fight; maybe the fight of the night. Someone is going to lie down.’’
Smith (http://scottmith.proelite.com) has won all 14 of his fights by knockout or technical knockout, including 12 first-round stoppages. He will be making his first start since signing with EliteXC.
A “freestyle” fighter and one of the most dangerous strikers in the business, Smith is remembered most for his dramatic comeback victory over Pete “Drago” Sell in perhaps the most totally unexpected, shocking ending to a fight in MMA history.
“This is obviously a great opportunity for me and I am grateful to EliteXC for giving it to me,’’ said Smith, who rallied from the brink of defeat to register a remarkable second-round knockout over Sell on Nov. 11, 2006. “I am really looking forward to fighting for EliteXC.’’
Smith is a KO artist who comes out throwing bombs with an abandon that has made him a fan favorite. Aptly nicknamed “Hands Of Steel’’ — he’s a union field foreman in his family’s steel business — his record includes 12 victories inside the distance. But he also shows a strong wrestling background and possesses terrific cardio. His two other triumphs were by submission
“The fans know I come to war, that I am a fighter,’’ Smith said. “I think they love that I engage and I keep punching until I knock you out. They can read that when they watch me in the cage.’’
A former WEC light heavy and Gladiator Challenge heavyweight champ, Smith has fought some of the biggest names in MMA, including Dave Terrell, Patrick Cote, James Irvin and Jaime Jara. In his last start, Smith scored a 22-second, first-round TKO over Jeff Morris Dec. 22, 2007, at Sacramento.
Noke (http://kyle-noke.proelite.com), who turned pro in 2002, is 6-1-1 in his last eight outings and undefeated (3-0-1) in his last four.
The lone loss came on a split decision to Shooto fighter & BJJ Black belt George Sotiropoulos on Feb. 25, 2006, in a rematch of a fight Noke had won in 2005 on a night in which Noke fought for more than 45 minutes to win an eight-man tournament.
A Integrated Martial Arts fighter turned some heads when he recorded an exciting knockout (cuts) at 4:22 of the second round over highly regarded Seth Kleinbeck (http://sethkleinbeck.proelite.com) on the EliteXC Nov. 10 event at Corpus Christi.
“I want to show the rest of the world that Australia has some good fighters and I guess I did that,’’ said the popular Noke, who was born in Queensland, but fights now out of Albuquerque, N.M.. “That was a very good win for me, but a very hard fight. This fight is going to be hard, too. They all are.”
Since the exciting triumph, the Aussie has received attention as a pound for pound contender. But if he upends Smith, which could be his sternest challenge to date, he will truly have made his mark not only on the EliteXC middleweight division but on the worldwide MMA map.
Berto (http://edsonberto.proelite.com) has won two in a row since an eight-fight unbeaten streak (7-0-1) ended in shocking fashion when he lost by third-round knockout to Noons on July 26, 2007, on ShoXC: The Elite Challenger Series on SHOWTIME at Santa Ynez, Calif.
A true mixed martial artist, Berto is an athletic, accomplished fighter who possesses a strong ground game and excellent standup. He is extremely dangerous when he connects with a head kick and is notorious for tapping guys with his heel hook.
But it wasn’t his night against Noons, who went on to upset Nick Diaz to become the EliteXC world lightweight champion.
.“I am a much better fighter than I showed against Noons,’’ said Berto, whose father, Dieuseul, owns and operates a mixed martial arts gym in Winter Haven, Fla. called Tigersworld. “I was really dehydrated and very fatigued. It just didn’t allow me to be myself out there.”
In his last outing, Edson, the brother of top boxing contender Andre Berto, recorded a three-round decision over IFL veteran Josh Odom on Nov. 10, 2007. “The fans will see the real me on Feb. 16,’’ said Berto, who is nicknamed ‘”Little Tiger” for his ferocious fighting style. “This is going to be a great fight.’’
Edwards (http://yvesedwards.proelite.com) is one of the toughest fighters in combat sports. An excellent striker who is dangerous in the clinch and well versed on the ground, The American Top Team member is equally capable of knocking out or submitting an opponent with his “Thugjitsu’’ fighting style.
A winner of two in a row, a native of the Bahamas has faced a Who’s Who of fighters, including Caol Uno, Matt Serra, Rich Clementi, Josh Thompson and Hermes Franca. His KO of Thompson, via a spectacular head-kick, is regarded as one of the greatest knockouts due to a kick in MMA history.
Edwards snapped a career-high three-fight losing streak by submitting Nick Gonzalez (rear naked choke) at 3:05 of the first round on Nov. 10, 2007, on SHOWTIME at Corpus Christi.
In his most recent outing, Edwards scored a knockdown en route to a second-round submission over Alonzo Martinez on Dec. 15, 2007. The 11-year MMA veteran dropped Martinez with a left hand, which helped set up a rear naked choke that forced Martinez to tap out at 3:04.
It was Edwards’ first fight since the death of Sammy Vasquez two weeks earlier. “To everybody, it was a death in MMA, but to me, it was a friend who died,’’ said Edwards, who helped train Vasquez. “He was the kind of guy who worked a lot of hours during the day and made his training time before and after work. He’d come in and help me get ready when other people couldn’t. I think about Sammy a lot.’’
Until winning his last pair, Edwards had fallen on tough times, which was a drastic departure for a fighter accustomed to winning and stringing together six and seven victories at a time.
“I am very happy to be with EliteXC and I appreciate the opportunity they are giving me,’’ said Edwards, who’s one of the most celebrated fighters to come out of Texas. “They believe in me. I believe in myself. But I know I can’t afford to screw up and lose any more fights.’’
Thompson (http://jamesthompson.proelite.com) is aptly nicknamed. At six-foot-five and weighing close to 290 pounds, “Colossus’’ is just that – huge. A former Pride and Cage Rage fighter, he lives in England but recently joined Couture and his stable of strong wrestlers at Xtreme Couture.
“It was a hard decision to leave my old team (Trojan Free Fighters) and switch to Xtreme Couture, but to prepare myself for the top EliteXC fighters like Kimbo and ‘Big Foot’ Silva, I knew it had to be made,’’ said Thompson, who will be making his EliteXC, United States and SHOWTIME debut.
“Already one of the biggest differences is I used to fight anywhere between 265 and 290 pounds. Now I’ll fight at 254 pounds, so my stamina has gotten much better. Signing with EliteXC and fighting in the states on SHOWTIME is a great chance for me to make new fans and I’m looking forward to it.
“I have the best fans in the world and I don’t make life easy for them, as I have more ups and downs than a rollercoaster, but I truly appreciate their support. I feel ready and excited for 2008.
“I have a new team, a new organization to fight for and a new goal: to make ‘08 the year of ‘The Colossus.’ ”
Thompson, who’s fought all over the world, has fought some of the best in his division. One of his best victories came on a unanimous five-round decision over San Severn Sept. 12, 2004. Another top win came versus Japanese judo legend Hidehiko Yoshida on New Year’s Eve 2006.
“This fight on Feb. 16 is a big one for me,’’ Thompson said. “I am coming off a bad performance in my last fight and nobody wants to be on the wrong end of a loss like that. Since then I have had four different fights cancel so I have been waiting a long time to fight again.
“Now I get the opportunity to fight in EliteXC and have my first fight in the states. It is really exciting for me and basically a fresh start for my career. I can’t wait for the day to get here.’’
Rogers (http://brettrogers.proelite.com) will be making his second appearance for EliteXC. In his debut and last outing, he registered a 1:43, first-round submission (strikes) over Ralph Kelly on Nov. 10 at Corpus Christi, Tex.
A big guy with heavy hands, Rogers is making his initial appearance on SHOWTIME.
SHOWTIME announcer Mauro Ranallo will handle play-by-play for EliteXC with world wrestling star Bill Goldberg and The Fight Professor Stephen Quadros, serving as color analysts. The executive producer is David Dinkins, Jr. with Bob Dunphy directing.
For more information on EliteXC and other MMA-related stories, including bios, video-on-demand, photos, stats, Fantasy Fight Game TM and more, please visit ProElite.com and EliteXC.com. For information on SHOWTIME Sports, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video, photo galleries and complete telecast information, please visit http://www.SHO.com/Sports.
About ProElite, Inc.
ProElite Inc. [PELE.PK] delivers the most exciting entertainment experience in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) with live arena-based entertainment events, cable television programming on Showtime Networks and community-driven interactive broadband entertainment via the Internet. ProElite embraces MMA with the highest levels of honor, integrity, discipline and self-esteem all the while remaining inclusive for fighters, fans and schools. ProElite’s live fight division, EliteXC, delivers spectacular live MMA fight events that showcase the world’s top fighters [elitexc.com]. ProElite’s interactive business, ProElite.com, capitalizes on the growing popularity of the sport of mixed martial arts by building a community of MMA enthusiasts. In addition to streaming the most exciting live fights to the web, ProElite expands the fan base of the sport by providing a comprehensive set of online social networking tools for fans, fighters and organizations. ProElite.com – Empowering the Fight Community TM
About Showtime Networks Inc.
Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL® and FLIX®, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME 2™, SHOWTIME® SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME®, SHOWTIME BEYOND®, SHOWTIME NEXT®, SHOWTIME WOMEN®, SHOWTIME FAMILY ZONE® and THE MOVIE CHANNEL® XTRA. SNI also offers SHOWTIME HD®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL® HD, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND® and THE MOVIE CHANNEL® ON DEMAND. SNI is also an owner and manager of SUNDANCE CHANNEL®, a venture of NBC Universal, Robert Redford and SNI. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution. All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital 5.1. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV®.