Fightweets: More Elite XC memories

Tom Casino/Showtime photo

If for some reason you haven't yet read my colleague Chuck Mindenhall's story on the events of Oct. 4, 2008, you really should do so. Right now.

Back? Great. I don't have much to add about the infamous evening that led to Elite XC's demise that Chuck didn't already wrangle out of the participants, other than to note it was truly a fitting end to what was the wackiest promotion ever to get a regular, major television clearance in modern MMA history.

But it's not like Seth Petruzelli's legendary 14-second knockout of Kimbo Slice was the only bizarre event in EXC's annals, and the story sure did kick up memories of the special brew of weirdness only Gary Shaw's promotion could conjure. From the obvious, boxing-style matchmaking approach of pushing stars in mismatches, to the three-minute rounds for women's fights, to the plan to implement new weight limits which conveniently just so happened to favor the fighters the company was looking to build around, it was always something.

So without further ado, let's jump into another edition of Fightweets.

Elite mayhem

@andBebop: Were u in attendance @ Sunrise, FL for Kimbo vs. Petruzelli 5 yrs. ago n could u recall your thoughts that night.

No, I wasn't in attendance in Sunrise that evening. At the time, I was working for Yahoo Sports as MMA and boxing editor. Kimbo was such a phenomenon as a Yahoo.com front-page clicker that we not only had Dave Meltzer there to cover the fights, but national columnist Dan Wetzel broke away from his usual fall weekend routine of Saturday college football/Sunday NFL to head down and write about the proceedings.

While I wasn't there for the jab that killed Elite XC, I did cover a pair of Elite XC events in person over the years. The first was in Sept. 2007 in Honolulu and was main evented by Robbie Lawler defeating Murilo "Ninja" Rua for the EXC middleweight belt. One "highlight" of the evening was a memorable performance by a judge during the Nick Diaz-Mike Aina. The judge, whose name eludes me, spent half the fight with his backed turned to the cage, chatting up girls sitting in the front row. At another point in the action, the judge's cell phone rang. He got up and ran down the aisle to chat on the phone for awhile. He saw maybe six minutes tops of a 15-minute fight. Diaz went on to win via a questionable split decision. Then we all had to watch Shaw awkwardly kiss Gina Carano after Carano's win over Tonya Evinger, to Carano's visible displeasure. The less said about that, the better.

The next event I covered was the legendary "Kimbo and The Exploding Ear" fight in Newark. First, there were the weigh-ins, held outdoors on a scorching hot afternoon in downtown Newark in front of a handful of reporters and about a dozen or so "fans" who were obvious plants from the promotion (or they were such real, hardcore EXC fans that they wore company apparel from head to toe, even though I never saw another such person who didn't work for the company ever again. I'll let you be the judge). Those "fans" watched on while the first few fighters burned their feet on the scale, which was reflecting the sun, until it finally sunk in that fighters were going to have to keep their sandals on.

While the Kimbo-James Thompson fight speaks for itself, believe it or not, the most fun came at what was probably the most absurd post-fight press conference in MMA history. First, Shaw rambled for what seemed like three hours. Then came a ridiculously staged "showdown" between Kimbo's people and Brett Rogers, designed to hype a future fight which never happened. In the middle of this, Phil Baroni, who the promotion apparently never cued in on the deal, grabbed the mic, berated the media, and demanded we don't make a big deal out of the confrontation. Thanks for sharing, Phil. Oh, and if this wasn't all ridiculous enough, Thompson showed up in the back of the room, after Shaw insisted Thompson had been rushed to the hospital, to let everyone know he was just fine.

With Kimbo hot and commanding millions of eyeballs every time he fought, a smarter promoter would have capitalized on the opportunity to make new talent into stars. The proof Elite XC's talented core lies in Scott Coker taking over the women's side of the sport and the career of Diaz afterwards. Carano vs. Cyborg Santos in Strikeforce was the biggest night in women's MMA until Ronda Rousey hit the scene; Diaz emerged as a superstar in part because of a win streak largely built in the company.

But EXC placed all their eggs in the Kimbo basket, and had the whole operation collapse in a manner as spectacular as one could possibly imagine. As for the fight itself, like I said earlier, there's little to add other than that I knew, the moment Kimbo was laid out, it was lights out for Elite XC as well.

Matt Riddle unretires

@Iceonthedune: The funniest thing about Riddle was that he bashed Bellator, not the UFC, and Dana still jumped up his ass

In hindsight, we probably shouldn't be surprised that Matt Riddle's retirement lasted all of three weeks. Everyone has or at one point had their one stoner friend who quits things in a huff and then goes off and rants about how The Man is holding him down. Riddle is the entire MMA community's stoner friend.

And you know what? I'm glad our weed-smoking buddy is back. Riddle's travails helped shine the spotlight on the idiocy of commission rules on marijuana. And let's not forget he can actually fight. The last four times he stepped into the UFC's Octagon before he was let go, he got his hand raised. Maybe Mr. Riddle's worldview is skewed a bit by the amount of, umm, medicine he apparently consumes. But he doesn't mind saying what's exactly on his mind, which is always refreshing in this era of one "I'll fight whoever the promoters want me to fight next" quote after another. So welcome back, Matthew, and don't leave us again any time soon.

Bellator's value

@ElCujorino: DW can say Bellator has no value but if he bought WFA for Rampage you know he'd buy Bellator for Alvarez, Chandler, & Curran

This is really an apples-and-oranges comparison. The World Fighting Alliance was basically Affliction before Affliction, with wannabe promoters spending way over their heads in one of the first real attempts for a would-be UFC competitor to cash in on MMA's growing popularity. The WFA, which ran several shows years earlier under different owners, ran one pay-per-view event in 2006 which drew 2,300 paid in Inglewood, Calif. for an event which barely made a dent on TV. UFC bought the company for pennies on the dollar to pick up the contracts of fighters like Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Lyoto Machida. They made the money back and more in one night on Jackson's light heavyweight title victory over Chuck Liddell at UFC 71.

Every time the UFC has bought a company, there's been something tangible in the deal. PRIDE had its incomparable video library. With the WEC, Zuffa could simply buy the lighter weight classes rather than build it out on their own. Strikeforce had Diaz, Rousey, Miesha Tate, Gilbert Melendez, and Josh Thomson, all of whom have or will headline either pay-per-view or FOX network shows.

That's what Dana White said when he referred to "value." As good as Michael Chandler, Eddie Alvarez, and Pat Curran are, they would simply be names added to already stacked divisions in a hypothetical takeover. That's not something which can really be compared to a game-changer like Rampage at his peak or the addition of the featherweight division itself.

UFC 167 vs. UFC 168

@auggie85: how much does the removal of Mir Overeem hurt the 167 card? 168 is definitely the card to look froward to!

I mean, it's not like losing the "loser leaves town" fight between Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir turns UFC 167 into UFC 149, ya know? The Nov. 16 event in Las Vegas is still headlined by Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks for the welterweight title, which is one of GSP's most intriguing title defenses in quite some time. And you've still got Rashad Evans vs. Chael Sonnen. And Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler in a fight I love. And Donald Cerrone vs. Evan Dunham in a match where the winner stays relevant in the lightweight division. I'd agree that UFC 168 is better, and especially now that Mir-Overeem has been shifted to UFC 169. But 167 is still nothing to sneeze at, and hey ... between the intrigue of how Jon Jones responds after his first real test and Mir vs. Overeem, UFC 169 is also off to a good start.

Big Country's beard

@Aaronchubbs97: What is your opinion on Roy Nelson's beard? should the commission make him shave/trim it?

They should let Nelson keep it. I mean, the beard didn't stop Stipe Miocic, Fabricio Werdum, Mir or Junior dos Santos from defeating Big Country. Nor do I think the beard gave Nelson magical powers which enabled him to knock out Matt Mitrione or Brendan Schaub. And, oh yeah, the beard didn't do Kimbo any good against Petruzelli, either. Maybe I'm biased because I shave maybe once or twice a month at most, but I say let the beard stay.

Got a question for a future Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and drop me a tweet.

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