On May 31st, MMA will debut on CBS primetime. EliteXC will televise their show live from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
As a fan I'm excited about the sport finally breaking through to the major networks, but evolution always has a price. The question becomes does EliteXC have the talent to support a show on major network TV. As of right now, the answer is no. Unless the promotion makes significant signings or cross promotional fights, the stable just isn't strong enough.
If the show is going to be a success, it needs to be a card that new fans and old-school MMA junkies can enjoy together. That, I can not see happening. The main card will feature one of the most controversial figureheads of the MMA community, Kimbo Slice.
Kimbo has been thrust into stardom thanks to YouTube and the explosion of MMA popularity. Without getting into Kimbo's past, which is a whole article unto itself, is Kimbo a top-level guy?
While he is an entertaining fighter, his skill level just isn't there yet. There has been lots of talk about the evolution of Kimbo and what he can do after a year or two of training. Thats great, he is fighting now, and if you give him top-level talent, he will lose.
The rumor mill has been busy and the name that I keep hearing as Kimbo's opponent is the one and only Ken Shamrock. Shamrock was a great fighter and is a legend to the sport, but he is past his prime. In his last ten fights Shamrock has lost eight of them and is currently on a five fight slide!
This is the guy? This is the person that EliteXC is going to give to Kimbo to dismantle on national TV? I have a hard time accepting Kimbo vs. Shamrock as your draw fight for your first time on national TV.
If you want to show everyone in America how great Kimbo is, beating up a geriatric Ken Shamrock isn't the way. Right now you should be thinking, who would I want to see fight? After pondering that question for a night the answer came to me. If EliteXC wants to give Kimbo a fight they have to go out and get a top-tier free-agent heavyweight.
Some fans new to the sport may not be familiar with the fighter I'm going to suggest, but trust me it would be one hell of a battle. Mark Hunt has fought some of the best guys in the world and was the last person to give Fedor trouble. He has wins over CroCop and Wand, and held his own with Fedor for as long as any one before him.
He would stand in the middle of the ring and not be afraid to bang with Kimbo. That's a fight I want to see, that's a fight, as a fan, I would want to represent my sport to folks tuning in for the first time to see a MMA fight.
The other fight on the card has top-ten ranked Robbie Lawler fighting stand-up specialist Scott Smith. While the fight has the potential to be good, I don't see Smith being able to handle Lawler.
Lawler is coming off a huge victory over Ninja Rua, and is looking to roll over anyone at 185. EliteXC has a few guys that can draw an audience, but they don't have the depth to produce a fantastic five-fight card. The aformentioned Ninja Rua, Charles "crazy horse" Bennett, Renzo Gracie, Phil Baroni, and Nick Diaz are all fighters on the EliteXC roster that would have to have legitimate big time fights on the card to save the CBS diaster.
There is a saying that any publicity is good publicity. As a fan of MMA I want to see the sport prosper and grow. Showing a second-rate fight card for the first time on prime time TV to millions of virgin viewers doesn't strike me as sound strategy.
In 1996 a U.S. Senator called the UFC human cockfighting, and called for it to be outlawed. Thankfully no one listened to Mr. John McCain and MMA is flourishing.
Is Kimbo Slice, who at one point did fight for money in backyards and deserted junkyards, to be shown to the american public on CBS as the future of MMA?