Elite XC’s mainstream ride came to a permanent and unceremonious halt several weeks ago. The once promising upstart-mixed-martial-arts promotion declared bankruptcy, thus, joining the likes of failed fight companies like Pride and the IFL.
The organization had received increasing criticism for resembling the circus like WWE, rather than a respectable sports promotion. By pushing undeserving and over the hill stars, compounded with a lack of fighter depth, their demise was not surprising.
Amidst the chaos though, several talented and intriguing fighters remain in search of new homes. Some of these future free agents are world-class talents, others provide ratings, and a select few find their careers in jeopardy.
In order to decipher the best possible free agents, I have made a comprehensive list of the most viable EliteXC options.
Elite Exec’s incumbent middleweight champion is an entirely different fighter than he was in the UFC. Gone is the undisciplined, one-dimensional brawler. A calculating, precise and well-rounded mixed martial artist has replaced him. Lawler’s game has evolved and combines lethal striking with solid wrestling. Still young at 26, Lawler’s career is on the rise. With an array of skills and a flair for dramatic fights, Big Rob will be a serious addition to any roster.
The face of the defunct organization is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Youtube’s most famous street brawler elicits massive fan reaction and attracts quite a following, but he has been exposed as an inexperienced and pedestrian fighter. It appears as though Slice is too old to ever be a top contender, yet is still marketable enough so that he is a profitable commodity. While the UFC could exploit his popularity, it would hurt its credibility in the process. More likely, the Kimbo Slice show will be taken overseas to Japan, where less skilled fighters with a menacing look have been successful in the past (Bob Sapp). Either way, it seems for now as though Slice’s 15 minutes of fame are almost up.
The Gracie trained jiu-jitsu fighter is a highly sought after free agent. His impressive 11-fight winning streak and slick ground game make him one of the best welterweights in the world. Shields has also voiced interest in competing at 185, which allows organization flexibility in crafting the best possible fights. Although receiving decent exposure from EliteXC, his fights lacked real excitement so his drawing power is still relatively low. But, his talent is too great to ignore and the UFC is the most logical destination for him.
The woman who thrust female MMA onto a national platform is in a precarious position. There are few organization that have a steady women’s division, fewer with notable opponents, and even fewer with deep enough pockets to pay Carano her proper due. Yet, she is one of the most popular athletes in the sport, is easily one of the most marketable and attracts an entirely new demographic. That kind of ratings power is a valuable asset for any company and should be enough to get her signed. Additionally, Carano can truly fight and has taken part in fan-pleasing bouts. A potential showdown against rival Cyborg Santos was quickly becoming a highly anticipated main event. It would be a shame for her fighting prowess to go to waste because nobody wants to invest in the development of women’s MMA. Dana White, step your game up! Can anybody say, Ultimate Fighter, Women’s Edition?
EliteXC truly began to cultivate three up and coming heavyweights that are deserving of recognition amongst the crop of free agents. Antonio Silva is an established presence and Brett Rogers and Dave Herman are rising stars.
Silva is a giant serving one-year steroids suspension, but Rogers and Herman are young and ready. Rogers gained notoriety for calling out Kimbo Slice and for his propensity for first round TKO’s (see James Thompson and Jon Murphy). He appears increasingly more polished with experience and would be a nice talent to cultivate for a thin UFC division.
I attended Indiana University with Herman where he was a dominant wrestler. With no consistent formal training, Herman is a very raw prospect. Still, the guy is incredibly agile for his size and can really move. He is very limber and extremely powerful. The 23-year-old is an infant in the sport and should be brought along slowly.
All three fighters would provide quality depth for any organization.
Other Notables—Nick Diaz, KJ Noons, Joey Villasenor, and Rafel Cavalcante
Diaz is a MMA veteran who has fought across the globe. Noons is a younger fighter more recognized for his controversial relationship with EliteXC than his actual fighting. Villasenor is an exciting middleweight who is well rounded, but not exceptional.
The real prize here is Cavalcante. Hailing from Brazil, the 28-year-old is a BJJ fighter who trains with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Anderson Silva. At 6'2", the former heavyweight is a massive specimen at 205. His striking has continually improved, which compliments a grappling background and established ground game. If he catches on with a major promotion, look for him to turn some heads.
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