EliteXC – Heat on CBS: analysis and predictions

The EliteXC returns to south Florida at EliteXC – Heat on October 4, 2008 at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson vs. Ken Shamrock (Heavyweight Bout)

This fight has all the right ingredients for a media zoo, which means big ratings for the fledgling EliteXC promotion as it desperately looks to seek approval from the powers that be within CBS, after their second CBS show tanked in July, erasing any memory of how well their first show did at the end of May. The main factor in why the event in May did a lot better was due in large part to the star power and cult following surrounding the man they call “Kimbo Slice”. The legendary Internet street fighter took MMA by storm when he started fighting professionally in 2007. He has since graced the cover of ESPN the Magazine and signed a lucrative endorsement deal with TapouT clothing. Combine that with the careful matchmaking within EliteXC and he’s riding three consecutive stoppage victories in just many fights. Granted the opposition he has faced thus far has been mediocre at best, that doesn’t take away from the dynamite he is packing in every punch. However, in fighting as in life, you can’t be so enamored by the glitz that you ignore reality. The reality of Kimbo Slice is that he has only been training MMA for under 2 years and his anemic ground game was exposed in his last bout against James Thompson, which was on the brink of being stopped at several points in that fight, due to Kimbo’s inability to escape from bad spots on the ground.

Now he is facing a man in Ken Shamrock, who has helped define the sport from its very inception in this country at UFC 1 in 1993. Though people are quick to point out that Ken Shamrock is just a shell of his former self, he is still a founding father of modern day MMA and a first ballot UFC Hall of Famer with a wealth of combat knowledge that one could only hope to accrue over an entire career in this sport. At 44 years of age, Ken’s body has not had the luck of his colleague Randy Couture in the fact that it has physically deteriorated to the point where it can no longer do what his mind is telling it to do. In a nutshell, Ken hasn’t won a fight since June of 2004 and that was a win over Kimo Leopoldo, who was also at the twilight of his career. Critics are also quick to point out his string of losses over the past few years, but forget to realize that three of those losses were to Tito Ortiz, one was to Rich Franklin, one was to Kazushi Sakuraba, and another was to Don Frye, which many felt was a fight that he won. Those six losses were to four men that all belong in the MMA Hall of Fame.

Ken is intelligent enough to know that he won’t last a round with Kimbo Slice if he looks to trade hands. Kimbo will weigh a good 30-plus pounds more than Ken at fight time, all of which will be from his solid muscular physique. Ken’s jaw has been his weakness of late, which even cost him a flash KO loss in 2005 to Kazushi Sakuraba who is a middleweight not known for any punching power. Likewise, Ken is well aware that his only chance at derailing the Kimbo Slice Express is to take this fight to the ground as soon as possible. This means clinching and testing Kimbo’s suspect grappling acumen. This could very well be Ken’s swan song and where the EliteXC is likely hoping to use it to propel Kimbo Slice into the realm of legit, I see this as a very distinct possibility to do the opposite. This is a very winnable fight for Ken on the ground, combined with the fact that he has twice submitted Kimbo’s grappling coach Bas Rutten during their prime. I don’t see Kimbo having enough submission defense to withstand a potentially career threatening knee injury from one of Ken’s notorious leglocks. Where it’s true that Ken hasn’t submitted anyone since 2001, that’s mostly due to the youth and submission awareness of his opponents. I predict that Ken, who is well known for his poker skills, has one last ace up his sleeve and will submit Kimbo with a first round heel hook.

Prediction: Ken Shamrock via Heel Hook.

Jake Shields vs. Paul “Semtex” Daley (Welterweight Title Bout)

Jake Shields is only the third person to be promoted to the rank of black belt in jiu-jitsu by Cesar Gracie with David Terrell and Nick Diaz being the other two. Jake has also been unbeatable in MMA, since dropping a narrow decision to Akira Kikuchi in December of 2004. That is a streak of 10 wins with the last 6 coming by way of stoppages either from a submission or TKO. More impressively, names such as Dave Menne, Carlos Condit, Yushin Okami, Renato “Charuto” Verissimo, Mike Pyle, and Nick Thompson are included in that streak. In July, he was finally given the official title of the EliteXC’s welterweight champion after submitting Thompson in 63 seconds. Instead of basking in the glory of winning the title in front of a large CBS audience, he was quick to ask for another fight to defend his title. After a steady search, the EliteXC signed a very dangerous opponent in an Englishman by the name of Paul “Semtex” Daley to fight Shields in his first title defense.

Daley is a very charismatic fighter with 26 fights to his credit with 16 of his 18 wins coming by way of KO or TKO. Four of those TKO wins have come against tough UFC veterans Duane “Bang” Ludwig, Mark Weir, Sammy Morgan, and Jess Liaudin. The powerful Muay Thai specialist, who has spent most of his career fighting in his native Cage Rage promotion, has been training intensely in Holland with Dutch powerhouse Melvin Manhoef. Daley helped Manhoef get ready for the finals of the DREAM middleweight tournament in September, while preparing himself for the biggest fight of his career against Jake Shields. The interesting thing about this fight is also the most obvious. Shields will be looking to take this fight to the ground for a quick submission, where Daley will look to keep the fight standing for one of his trademark KO’s. However, I don’t see this going the Englishman’s way, as Shields is too good at exerting his will on others, especially on opponent’s with inferior ground games. I predict Shields will end this fight via Rear Naked Choke in the first round.

Prediction: Jakes Shields via Rear Naked Choke.

Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson (Heavyweight Bout)

Just a month ago, Andrei Arlovski thought he was facing Josh Barnett on the same Affliction card on October 11th, that Roy Nelson would be facing Paul Buentello. As the world anticipated these two premier heavyweight bouts, Affliction pulled the plug on the tentative Las Vegas show and postponed it until January. That is where EliteXC stepped up to sign Andrei Arlovski vs. Roy Nelson as an added special attraction to its third CBS show. This was EliteXC’s way of ensuring a ratings increase, after their second CBS show in July paled in comparison to its first show at the end of May.

Since Arlovski and Nelson were in the midst of their respective training camps, both fighters will come into this fight in good condition, even though the bout agreements were just signed 10 days ago. As far as preparation, the advantage would have to go to Arlovski due to the fact that he was already getting ready to fight a hefty submission savvy ADCC veteran with solid hands in Barnett. On the other hand, Nelson was getting ready to fight Buentello, who is predominantly a striker that likes to sprawl and brawl, which allows him to load up for the big KO, which earned him his nickname “The Headhunter”.

Arlovski, however, is a different animal. This is evident in his 15 second KO win over Buentello in 2005. He has more refined boxing skills, which have only improved after spending the past several months training with world-famous boxing coach Freddie Roach in Los Angeles. The fruits of his labor were obvious in his third round destruction of Ben Rothwell in July. Arlovski, also has a more dangerous ground game than Buentello due to his Sambo background, which has netted him an ankle-lock victory over Tim Sylvia in the past. However, that is a null point considering that Big Country is the much more polished and accomplished submission grappler.

On paper and in the minds of many, Arlovski is the heavy favorite coming into this bout with a potential January showdown with heavyweight kingpin Fedor Emelianenko on the horizon. That however, could be the deciding variable that goes in Nelson’s favor. Big Country has nothing to lose and everything to gain. If he loses, it’s expected and he still has a potential showdown with Buentello or a rematch with Rothwell to look forward to in Affliction. If he wins, he will have secured the biggest win of his career on primetime national television over a Top 5 heavyweight. This should bring a calm approach to Big Country’s already tactical fighting style. I predict that Big Country will hold his own standing, just long enough to out-wrestle Arlovski, where he will control the fight on the mat. This will be a grueling chess match that goes to the judge’s scorecards that will all be in favor of Big Country via Unanimous Decision.

Predicition: Roy “Big Country” Nelson via Unanimous Decision.

Gina Carano vs. Kelly Kobold (Women’s Bout)

Gina Carano, like Kimbo Slice, was added to this third CBS televised card to repeat the magic formula that brought CBS record-breaking ratings on May 31st. Since defeating Julie Kedzie on the first women’s MMA bout on Showtime in February of 2007, Gina has quickly become “The face of women’s MMA”. Her good looks and fearsome Muay Thai fueled fighting style quickly caught the attention of NBC executives when they were looking to launch a new modern version of their early 90’s television hit “American Gladiators” in late 2007. Gina has since resigned for the second season of “American Gladiators”, was cast in the celebrity-studded video game “Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3”, was featured on ESPN’s weekly television show “E:60”, as well as “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”. As much good as this has done for promoting MMA and women’s MMA to the mainstream masses, it has also come with the added pressure of being the woman that the rest of the women in the sport are gunning for, which is a challenge that the Muay Thai expert openly welcomes.

The latest challenger looking to put a blemish on Gina’s flawless 6-0 MMA record comes in the form of the 6-year MMA veteran Kelly Kobold. Kelly has amassed an impressive 16-2-1 record over the course of her career with all 16 wins coming one after another, until she hit a bump in the road last summer by dropping consecutive bouts to Tara LaRosa and Julie Kedzie one month apart from each other in the now defunct BodogFight organization. She hasn’t fought since losing to Kedzie in August of last year, but trains at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy with Gina’s last opponent Kaitlin Young. This should allow Kelly’s trainers time and firsthand knowledge to devise a more effective gameplan, but unfortunately knowing what you need to do and being able to do what you need to do are two completely separate issues. Ring rust combined with lesser technique and athleticism will lead to Kobold’s demise. Julie Kedzie is an easy indicator used to determine how Carano and Kobold will measure up. Kobold has a lot of experience with a proven ability to finish fights, but Carano will be too much for her as I predict a second round stoppage due to strikes.

Prediction: Gina Carano via TKO.

Benji Radach vs. Murilo “Ninja” Rua (Middleweight Bout)

This middleweight bout has the potential to follow up or possibly surpass the war that Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith had on the first CBS broadcasted event in May. Benji Radach is a UFC and IFL veteran that has won in both organizations and has put together an impressive 18-4 record. Most recently known as a pivotal part of the dominant Los Angeles Anacondas squad in the now defunct IFL, Radach has earned the respect of his teammates and opponents alike for his aggressive fighting style and work ethic, which was punctuated by the way he fought back from a scary neck injury at the beginning of the year. Now that he’s healed, it’s merely a question of whether he’s back to full strength and can put his IFL Grand Prix finals upset loss to Matt Horwich behind him.

Radach’s first opponent back is a daunting task to say the least. It is in the form of former EliteXC champion and former PRIDE star Murilo “Ninja” Rua, who is the brother of PRIDE and UFC star Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Ninja made a name for himself in the now defunct PRIDE organization as a main force within the once dominant Chute Boxe team that redefined MMA for several years. Since the Zuffa buyout of PRIDE in March of 2007, Ninja and his brother Shogun have left Chute Boxe to start their own MMA academy called Universidade da Luta. Ninja has notable wins throughout his career over the likes of Mario Sperry, Akira Shoji, Daijiro Matsui, Mark Weir, Joey Villasenor, and Tony Bonello. Their experience is just about even, but win or lose, Ninja has been in the ring with the best, time and time again. I see that valuable high-level experience combined with Radach’s ring rust as the deciding factor in the outcome of this fight. I also forsee this fight going the distance in what looks to be the “Fight of the Night” on CBS.

Prediction: Murilo “Ninja” Rua via Split Decision.

EliteXC – Heat on CBS (October 4, 2008)

-Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida

Main Card Bouts:

-Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson vs. Ken Shamrock (Heavyweight Bout)

-Jake Shields vs. Paul Daley (Welterweight Title Bout)

-Andrei Arlovski vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson (Heavyweight Bout)

-Gina Carano vs. Kelly Kobold (Women’s Bout)

-Benji Radach vs. Murilo “Ninja” Rua (Middleweight Bout)

Preliminary Bouts:

-Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos vs. Yoko Takahashi (Women’s Bout)

-James Edson Berto vs. Conor Heun (Lightweight Bout)

-Seth Petruzelli vs. Aaron Rosa (Light-Heavyweight Bout)

-Lorenzo Borgomeo vs. Mickey Gomez (Welterweight Bout)

-David Gomez vs. Brett Jackowski (Bantamweight Bout)

-Jorge Bouchat vs. Nicolae Cury (Lightweight Bout)

*Main Card airs live on CBS at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT)*

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