Notes: Elite XC, UFC, Dream
The details are quickly coming together on the next nationally televised Elite XC card.
Elite XC is planning a joint Showtime/CBS night of fights on July 26 with most details expected to be announced over the next week.
The company’s plan is to stage an event that would start at either 7:30 or 8 p.m. (ET) on Showtime – with either a 60- or 90-minute show that would feature three or four fights – leading into the 9-11 p.m. CBS show. The venue has not been finalized, although the Savvis Center in St. Louis is under consideration.
The CBS main event features Robbie Lawler, (15-4 1 no contest), vs. Scott Smith (15-4, 1 no contest), a rematch for the company’s middleweight title. The two were having the fight of the night on May 31 in Newark. N.J., when it ended with an inadvertent eye poke by Lawler on Smith; the doctors ruled Smith unable to continue. The match was ruled a no-contest.
Smith, who suffered torn ligaments in his foot in the fight two weeks ago, said he’s fine and can already run. He agreed to the rematch over the weekend.
Matchmaker Jared Shaw said Monday that for the CBS broadcast, plans remain for a match to create a welterweight champion in a match featuring Jake Shields, 20-4-1, and a match with Antonio “Junior” Silva, 10-1, which may be used to create a heavyweight champion.
Shayna Baszler, 9-4, is scheduled to be featured in a women’s match.
Shaw is also looking at showcasing featherweight Wilson Reis, 4-0, on Showtime. Reis put on a Brazilian jiu-jitsu clinic in a non-televised match on the Newark show, beating Justin Robbins in the first round.
Shaw said the lineup would be more appealing than the first CBS show to hardcore mixed martial arts fans, but it will be harder to draw a major network-caliber rating without fighters with more mainstream appeal.
This will be the first time in MMA history when two different networks combine to broadcast the same show. Boxing had done this, but not with a premium network combining with a major network.
Shaw said they were looking at doing the K.J. Noons-Nick Diaz lightweight title fight in the fall. This would likely be either on a September Showtime card or a proposed October CBS show.
He admitted having mixed feelings about the conclusion of Saturday night’s show with the Noons family and Diaz family; the event was marred by a pro wrestling-style altercation.
“It’s not something that I really like,” he said about the brawl. “You’re not doing the right thing. Some people are going to say it’s staged and you don’t want to become (WWE).”
Shaw did say the fracas created more interest in the fight.
UFC on July 19?
Among ideas thrown out by the Ultimate Fighting Championship to combat the July 19 debut of the Affliction promotion was running a live event on Spike TV.
It was never an idea that was green-lighted by either UFC or Spike. A Sunday Sherdog.com report saying that Wanderlei Silva and Brandon Vera were approached about potentially fighting on the date was confirmed to Y! Sports. Silva turned the date down, feeling it didn’t give him adequate time to prepare.
While multiple sources at UFC, as well as Spike, were denying the likelihood of such a show earlier Monday, fighters, including Vera, were still being talked with about possible matches for such a show. Due to timing issues, with the show being so close, UFC president Dana White is expected to make a final decision by Tuesday.
Schwarz noted that after the show this coming Saturday, there are no plans for another live event on Spike until a Sept. 17 event, tentatively scheduled for Omaha, Neb. The top three matches scheduled on that show are Clay Guida vs. Mac Danzig, Josh Neer vs. Nate Diaz and Houston Alexander vs. Eric Schafer.
The idea of running live events on free television was a staple of the late-1980s pro wrestling business rivalry between the then-World Wrestling Federation and Turner Broadcasting. The practice stopped when the cable industry, believing it was losing money based on people not buying the pay-per-view events because of the free specials, told the factions to stop.
UFC and Spike TV have several times run marathons of taped fights head-to-head with either Showtime or pay-per-view events, including putting the television debut of the Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva fight on Spike head-to-head with the CBS special.
Spike’s event did a strong 1.2 rating, better than some live shows on Spike have done, head-to-head with the most-watched MMA event in history on CBS. Between the two events, there were more than seven million viewers.
Dream tourneys advance
The final four in both the Dream lightweight and middleweight Grand Prix tournaments were determined on Sunday at the Yokohama Arena.
For the Japanese audience, the lightweight tournament, with three countrymen in the final four, has great interest. The middleweight tournament, however, has virtually no interest outside the hardcore audience.
Shinya Aoki, 15-3, one of the world’s top grapplers, took down and dominated 2000 Olympic Greco-Roman silver medalist Katsuhiko Nagata, 4-3, winning with something resembling a gogoplata from the mount position in 5:13 of the first round to be the final qualifier for the semifinals, which take place July 21.
The semifinal matches were drawn when fighters picked cards out of a box, with Aoki facing Caol Uno and Elite XC’s Eddie Alvarez facing Tatsuya Kawajiri. The winners will meet in the main event on the same show.
The middleweight final four, which is scheduled for the late summer or early fall, features Gegard Mousasi, 22-2-1, Zelg Galesic, 9-3, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, 9-1, and Melvin Manhoef, 22-4-1.
Mousasi survived a first-round armbar scare from Yoon Dong-Sik, a South Korean judo specialist, to win a one-sided decision. Galesic stopped Taiei Kin in 1:05 of the first round when Kin suffered a serious shoulder injury while being taken down. In the best match on the event, Souza won a decision over Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Manhoef steamrolled through physically destroyed legend Kazushi Sakuraba in 1:30 of the first round with punches on the ground.
Both tournaments are similar in that you have the one big puncher, Alvarez in the lightweight tournament and Manhoef in the middleweight tournament, in with a group of highly-skilled ground fighters. Manhoef looked the most impressive in his division, but may have the worst chance to win because his weaknesses, stamina and the ground game, are well known as all his potential opponents have the skill level to exploit them.