Notes from FanHouse in Newark.
The reaction to Elite XC's inaugural show on CBS has been mixed to negative and after spending the night cageside, I can't argue with that. The stoppages in each of the last two fights was much to quick and the controversy about an uncalled tapout by Kimbo Slice looms as an issue that Elite and CBS will have to deal with to confirm the legitimacy of what they're putting forth.
As you can see in the above picture of James Thompson, the stoppage didn't come completely out of nowhere. His ear is in awful shape. I don't think the context of the fight to that point called for a stoppage but Slice's punches and strikes were doing damage. Thompson's, on the other hand, weren't. He was on top and throwing elbows but, from my spot 10-15 feet away, they weren't doing much to hurt Slice. If Thompson weren't fatigued and/or hurting, I think he would have ended the fight during that moment in the second round but he couldn't muster the necessary might.
As you'll see after the jump, Slice looked better after the fight. Not the best picture, I apologize for my photo skills, but he didn't have a scratch on him.
Continuing with the theme of Slice's fitness to be the "face" of MMA, that definitely took a hit last night. His cardio isn't anywhere close to the level it needs to be if he wants to be taken seriously in the sport. He's a brawler and an entertaining one but that's not enough to beat the best of the best. Thompson isn't that but if he'd survived the third round, based on the scorecards, he was a pretty strong bet to win the fight.
That's why it was good for Brett Rogers to step up and give his unvarnished opinion of the fight during the postmatch press conference. Sure, there was a self-serving aspect to his comments but it was a bit off-putting to see how in Slice's corner the Elite XC powers that be were.
Jared Shaw, son of promoter Gary Shaw, came to the ring with him and the elder Shaw couldn't have been more effusive in his praise for Slice and more insistent that he was carrying the promotion on his shoulders. That kind of closeness casts a shadow around the way the fight played out and the way it was reffed. That's not to say it's illegitimate but it does smell.
As for the rest of the card, there was a lot of talk about a rematch between Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith at some point in the near future. Smith broke his foot during the bout and looked quite torn up but the too-quick stoppage of a competitive fight calls for another go-round.
The best technical fight was the Gina Carano-Kaitlin Young battle which might not say much for the rest of the fighters but does show that there's a place for women in MMA. It's a shame that Carano couldn't make weight but she's attractive, personable and a decent fighter. Expect to see a lot more of her going forward.
And, since we're looking forward, the biggest doubt about Elite XC in the future has to be the depth of their roster. UFC can put together top-notch cards every month with different fighters of great talent. I don't see that with Elite XC, as currently comprised, and they'll need to get better to make a real go of it as a top-flight promotion.