You know, I felt pretty bad about skipping out on covering Saturday’s EliteXC show until I noticed last night that no one else really did much other than results, recaps, and ratings. Boooooring! So let’s look at this puppy from a practical point of view:
Production: the opening montage was very epic and left me feeling more hyped for the show than any of the pre-show hype packages that got vomited out. And then it felt like they flipped a switch and we were back to the same old EliteXC, minus the booty dancers and hip hop performances. After the Affliction show I have a new appreciation for average production values, so I had no problem enjoying the show. But I wouldn’t say they’re quite ‘there’ yet.
You got the feeling that they were still learning on the go as they tried to hurry through the show to avoid running way over time again. Right after the announcer introductions they cut to the cage where Shayna Baszler and Cris Cyborg were ready to rumble, only to cut away and show several minutes worth of pre-fight hype videos. So it seems like there’s still some coordination issues that need to be ironed out.
Camera work was pretty flawless minus a few awkward shots, but there was still some issues with the audio where you’d hear mystery people talking or no sound where there should be or the audio going from canned to clear between cameras. But these complaints are all minor and didn’t bother me at all. Overall a very good step up in quality, and you get the feeling that these guys will have their shit down in 2 or 3 more shows.
Announcers: Gus Johnson was again the consumate professional but one thing that bugged me was how he kept his mic right up in his face like he was eating an ice cream cone all night. Rookie mistake, man. Frank Shamrock was used well as an analyst and I think the show would have been even better if they’d turned to him before every fight for an assessment like they did with Smith vs Lawler 2. Still, he sounded a bit funky like he was still getting used to the braces, and I have no idea why he bought the clunky old metal ones when you can buy clear ones nowadays.
Mauro … well, Mauro was Mauro. He kept the hack out of his act for the most part until near the end of the night where he started getting way to excited. And you know Mauro … his heartbeat starts racing and the stupid shit starts flowing out of his mouth. By the end he sounded a bit like the Ultimate Warrior cutting a promo: screaming about destiny and so forth.
Fights: It was a solid night of exciting fights, although there was no real barn burners like during EliteXC’s first CBS show. The best bouts were Baszler/Cyborg and Denny/Diaz. How embarassing was it that Cyborg spent a good 45 seconds celebrating a fight she didn’t win yet? Although to her credit, watching the replay showed that she did knock Baszler stupid and the ref probably should have wrapped things up. But whether it was a decision by the refs not to cut things short like in New Jersey or it was just some sort of strange stoppage karma, all the fights were allowed to go on and on and on with every chance being given to the fighters to continue.
Jake Shields made Nick Thompson look like a child, which sucked for me since I put money on the Goat pulling off an upset. Nice touch by Jake Shields to call out the winner of Fitch/GSP … I don’t think that’s gonna happen any time soon but at least you can see Jake is serious about wanting a step up in competition. I wonder who EliteXC is gonna find to fight him next.
Nick Diaz came out slow but warmed up and looked a bit like the Nick Diaz of old. He used the same old pawing jabs but then followed them up with killer crosses, putting his weight behind them and fucking Thomas Denny up. By the end of the first round, Diaz was hot and just kept Denny in his crosshairs, dropping more and more strikes.
After the fight I found it entertaining to see how many guys came up to Nick and reminded him not to swear. Maybe someone should have told him not to turn his post-fight talk into one big long advertisement, which sucks because Nick was pretty much the only guy I was really interested in hearing speak. Gus Johnson is lucky Nick was on best behavior otherwise all the “Thaaaaanks, Nick” and eye rolling he was doing might have resulted in another post-fight rumble.
If Scott Smith was really waiting around for the ref to stop the fight on account of that cut on Robbie Lawler’s head, then he really fucked up. I can understand doing that if a dude is bleeding Edwin Dewees style all over the place, but Robbie had a worse cut in the first fight and that wasn’t stopped. And that one was reffed by the vaginas from the NJAC. Ah well, live and learn, right? Robbie’s finish of the fight was very nice … brutal body blows and then finishing with knees to the same spot and chest. Props to Smith for getting back up after that, it really shows he’s got some guts. But you could tell he was done.
Anyways, that’s about it. Good show, didn’t set the world on fire but it does set EliteXC up nicely for their next event in October.