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EliteXC/CBS Media Day Part 1 of 2

On Monday, I went to the EliteXC/CBS press conference and autograph signing. For those of you who ignore Fightlinker’s constant props to me, I’m Esther, a photographer for Here’s a recap of my observations at the presser in the morning.

I love real press conferences. By real, I mean ones held by established media companies, in this case, CBS. It is tightly scheduled and fully catered. Everyone, even the fighters, gather around the pastries and juices. There are a lot of mainstream media in attendance.

Before the panels, EliteXC hosts a rules and basic techniques demonstration with Frank Shamrock as MC and Nick Diaz and Jake Shields doing the moves. At first, Frank forgets Jake Shields’ name, announcing him, “Oh no, I forgot your name, I’ve been up since 5 am and didn’t really sleep last night, I’m really sorry.” Diaz and Shields then entertain both the media and Frank Shamrock with their jiu jitsu skills.

Their grappling had the Legend saying “Whoa, I don’t even know what that is,” a few times.

Following the demonstration, Gina Carano jumps rope, shadowboxes, and hits pads. Phil Baroni yells out, “Work that rope Gina! Work it!”

Next, Kimbo hits pads with his trainer, Randy Khatami.

Following the open workouts, Chairman of ProElite Inc., Doug DeLuca, Sr. Executive VP for CBS Primetime, Kelly Kahl, and Gary Shaw field questions about ratings expectations and the impact of MMA on network television.

After that, we join the fighters on hand for a panel with Gary Shaw. Scott Smith says his fight with Robbie Lawler will be highlight reel material. Robbie Lawler notes the most difficult part of training for this fight on CBS is finding newer, bigger sponsors. Phil Baroni of course, dispenses his usual fight hype, but accuses Joey Villaseñor of missing the presser due to vaginitis. Phil asks Gina if she’s got any vaginal cream in her purse. The whole panel is in tears. I have never seen Robbie Lawler laugh so much. Phil interrupts Gina Carano’s turn later to let the media know that she has a killer triangle choke, and the whole panel breaks out in chuckles. Gina hits Phil with her microphone.

Kimbo gives monosyllabic answers to everyone, even Loretta Hunt from Sherdog, who appears frustrated yet amused by his refusal to discuss anything. Phil Baroni answers a few questions for Kimbo and steals the show, which Kimbo is fine with, since he’s not saying much beyond “Yeah,” and “Nah.” Nick Diaz speaks briefly (after being singled out by Gary for being quite the talker) on his recent win in DREAM. Jake Shields addresses being off the June 14th card in Honolulu due to Drew Fickett’s injury but hopes it will be rescheduled for September.

Free for all
Crews set up all over the soundstage to get their time with each of the fighters. Alison Haislip from G4’s Attack of the Show interviews Jake and Nick in the cage. Upon asking about techniques, Jake shows her a rear naked choke, putting his leg hooks in and getting Alison woozy before letting go. Then Nick tries to bend her arm back (at this point I worry he might accidentally hurt her). Lucky for her and Nick, Alison has amazing bendy elbows that go past straight easily. To finish the piece, Jake slams her onto the canvas.

Because it is mostly mainstream media with only a handful of MMA sites at this presser, few people interview Nate Diaz who is here supporting his brother. Nate messes with mainstream reporters and ask if they want to interview him.   They shrug uncomfortably, squeaking, “Uh, we weren’t told to?” while looking aside to producers whispering, “Who is this?” Best of all, during Nick’s interviews, Nate stands behind the cameraman, making faces and trying to steer Nick off his monologues, to no avail.

Later on, I see Scott Smith in the cage with a buxom blonde reporter from CBS and she requests to be taken down as well. Smith responds by swiftly slamming her to the canvas, she lets out a scream that is sure to be in the background of other interviews being conducted. The cameraman misses the shot. Smith and reporter repeat, but this time the reporter says “gently please!” and Smith obliges, laying her to the canvas softly as if it were a mossy forest floor and they were in some fantasy flick where she’s about to experience sweet love with this tanned muscle man.

She blushes. Smith blushes. “Okay!” the producer yells to break up the awkwardness and I move on to find Nick Diaz autographing Renegade DVDs on KJ Noons’ face.

While I’m looking for my next shot, I interrupt a conversation between employee, Marilyn Naanos and announcer Mauro Ranallo, right when Marilyn says “I hate you.” Mauro asks me if all Asian women are this feisty, I shrug. To which Marilyn repeats, “I hate you.”

I pack up to go to lunch with the fighters and EliteXC matchmakers. Someone from an MMA website, I’m sorry to say I don’t know which, sets up to interview Phil Baroni, but he forgets to press record. Kid doesn’t know it because he’s interviewing Baroni and no one is operating the video camera. Baroni gives him a long interview too, at least five minutes. Several EliteXC crewmembers pass by, all noticing the same error – but no one has the heart to tell the interviewer. I wonder what swearing will ensue when the reporter gets home and checks his tape.

Check back for Part 2: Autograph Signing at Best Buy – Gina Carano Makes Babies Cry

  • Tertio says:

    Nicelly done.
    These things sound like a lot of fun. Can i have your job for the next presser ?

  • Omomatta says:

    Good Article.

  • Zurich says:

    Great writeup! I see that Jake Shields and Scott Smith were perfect gentlemen by putting clothes back on before slamming the busty reporters.

  • Swedish guy says:

    Yeah, awesome writeup with great insight!

  • DannyP72 says:

    NYBA stealing the show as always.

    Great writeup

  • Lifer says:

    “Smith obliges, laying her to the canvas softly as if it were a mossy forest floor and they were in some fantasy flick where she’s about to experience sweet love with this tanned muscle man.”

    great article to read immediately after waking up! this made me howl with laughter. quite good.

  • #1 Jackal says:

    good job. i like the behind the scenes info

  • Brad says:

    Sounds like a great time.

  • el feo XIII says:

    heck of a job, linkie

  • Gaston says:

    Top nice. Keep expanding linker

  • Dangerfield says:

    Mauro reminds me of Clark Duke. Anyone who gets that, huzzah to you.

  • mmafacial says:

    Work on your writing skills, that was the worst article I have ever read.

  • Fightitude says:

    Great Pics, but one of the worst articles I’ve ever read.

    I understand that there is a difference between news and informal reporting, but whoever wrote this is a trashy and has less class than, well, I can’t even think of anyone that bad.

    It’s exactly this kind of writing that has prevented MMA from being taken seriously as a sport. The sport will change because of CBS but hopefully it weeds out people like this, the “wanna be fight fanatics”

    At some point in your life you have to stop trying so hard to jump onto the “cool” bandwagon.

  • Gina's boy toy says:

    Great write up… sounds like Phil Baroni is a funny guy at times.

  • kanos jimoros says:

    Very nice.

  • cheezeypoof says:

    Some people obviously missed that the write-up was submitted by a guest writer, some one who, unlike bloggers, has access to events like these. I’m sure she had other things to worry about than keeping us retards entertained…. like doing her job! Instead of being pricks, why don’t you just appreciate that we get an inside scoop on stuff we otherwise wouldn’t hear about and say ‘thank you’?!

  • Elfenstein says:

    i enjoyed reading the article – for once there was no anal humour by the writer ..

  • ninjitsu says:

    Great pics as always.

    Thanks for the write up. Baroni’s comments made me LOL.

  • JackalAss says:

    “It’s exactly this kind of writing that has prevented MMA from being taken seriously as a sport. The sport will change because of CBS but hopefully it weeds out people like this, the “wanna be fight fanatics”.”

    what, you mean it’s not the no holds barred image? the blood, violence, and previous lack of rules? the political blocking has nothing to do with it….neither does showcasing ape-thugs like Kimbo Slice. It’s definitely not the complete lack of a cohesive amateur regulation body.
    No it’s none of these things. Thanks to that dipshit known as Fightitude, I now know it’s colourful, guest pieces on a silly blog site that’s read by about 1% of hardcore mma fans that’s holding the sport back.

    For shame, fightlinker, for posting things that are negatively impacting the entire sport of mma. You should understand your power. Remember, with great power comes great dipshittery.

    Oh, nd btw, entertaining read. I really do hate Phil Baroni, but if he keeps making me laugh, I might just start to enjoy his interviews more than his fights.

  • kentyman says:

    This was awesome, Esther. I hope you can write one of these for every event you make it to.

  • JoshMan says:

    Is Clark Duke one of the announcers from Semi-Pro?

  • JoshMan says:

    Or I’m way off and should have searched first. Doh!

  • MarleyMarl says:

    Awesome read!

  • hbdale309 says:

    I laughed my ass off. Awesome show, great job.

  • New twist on MMA.

  • To be fair, we’re read by 3% of the hardcore mma fans, thank you very much. And I prefer to describe the site as “prolific”

  • Wu Tang says:

    Hey Ester,

    Are you going to be in NYC this thursday for “CBS/ELITEXC MEDIA ALERT NEW YORK PRESS CONFERENCE” ?? Im going to be there, im going to represent a website that is covering elite’s event. Hopefully ill get a press pass to go to the event on sat, but if you are going to be there, lets meet up, i would like to meet you and see your skills at work. Then if you want, i can tell you and your crew on some real good places (cheap) food in the city…. CHINA TOWN!!! :)

    – J

  • rickards says:

    ugh you guys took down part two. I was saving it for later [now]–Tease!

  • GRD says:

    Keep this guy Jacob! He’s awesome.

  • kentyman says:

    Esther’s a she, but she is awesome.