twitter google

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Matthew Polly, author of the awesome book American Shaolin, was our media representative at EliteXC’s Heat show. He was also the source that broke the news that Ken Shamrock was off the card with an injury, marking the first major scoop Fightlinker has ever bothered to achieve. Aside from that, he spent the weekend as he spends most weekends: drinking Jack Daniel’s and watching MMA. Here is his report from Florida.

“Oh, Kenny Boy, the Slice, the Slice is calling you.”

That was supposed to be the opening line for my piece about EliteXC’s October surprise. The company was on the ropes, needed a massive bailout, and threw a Hail Mary pass in the form of an elderly MMA statesman.

Unfortunately, he suspended his campaign at exactly the wrong moment.

As we jaded press-people were walked into the arena at 5pm, the security guard let slip (actually, he was eager) that Ken Shamrock would not fight. This was strange. This was baffling. Only the previous day, Ken had done one of his classic you-dissed-me rants after Kimbo turned his back on him at the weigh-ins. This proved two points. First: in retirement, KenSho will be one of the world’s best “you kids get off my lawn!” codgers. Second: Ken didn’t get the memo that Kimbo’s “switch” doesn’t work with face-offs—a point Gary Shaw made repeatedly before EliteXC CBS 1.

This sucked. This blew. At the event, I spent an inordinate amount of drunken energy leaning over Jim Genia’s shoulder to ask if he had any updates, since he’d brought a computer and I had only a faulty iPhone whose switch (like Kimbo’s) didn’t seem to work.

Thank God for Jim, because there were plenty of updates from the night. Naked Gino had finally made weight and won in a decisive fashion. The Cyborg, running on cycled off muscles, needed to go to a decision for her victory. It was proof that there is an exciting and viable match to be made in the women’s division at 140lbs-or 141, 145, 148, or heck up to 150, depending on Carano’s diet. No doubt Gino’s dad will sort it out, along with the Vegas judges.

(PS I feel terrible about making that joke: Gina and her adorable boyfriend are sitting behind me in the hotel restaurant as I write this. Now they are walking by. Oh shit, I just gave her the thumbs-up and said, “Good fight.” “Thanks,” she replies and I melt. Granted I’m a slut, but she really is that cute in person.)

On to the fights- apparently, Jake Shields won as well. He is such a master of the mount that I can only hope that either his younger brother sues for damages or he signs a UFC contract. Seriously, there is no reason to allow a force like Shields to continue beating on second-rate competition. Is the stacked UFC welterweight division so lacking in talent that GSP must fight either BJ Penn or Anderson Silva? Bitch, please. I’d drop Pay Per View money down to see Montreal’s hometown hero face the Jakester.

All of this is a long way to go to return back to the main event.

But before I begin I’d like to apologize to Gary Shaw. Sure, in my heart of hearts I thought that his sole purpose on earth was to make Dana White look good. I’ll even admit that I doubt there is any way an MMA promotion can lose $56 million in two years without resorting to embezzlement. That said, Shaw Sr. knew how to keep his tomato cans in line. (Also, I miss the hoochie-mama dancing girls: they had much bigger gas tanks than, say, Nick Serra.)

Not since UFC 3 – when he refused to fight after Royce Gracie pulled out – has Ken Shamrock caused a greater clusterfuck. The entire company and the potential of MMA on network TV hung in the balance. Ken choked. The company brought in a doctor to the post-fight press conference to claim Shamrock had suffered a cut so deep he couldn’t face Kimbo. Really? In the 24 hours since the weigh-ins this MMA legend had allowed someone in training to head-butt him right before a match? Bullpucky! If he were cut, he would have showed up at the presser. Nobody loves him a media scrum more than Ken, because the media loves him right back—allowing him to have a career four years past his expiration date.

Instead what did we get? Kimbo fighting some dude off the undercard whose name I still can’t remember. Some dude who is so green he apparently didn’t get the memo that his promotion’s entire survival depended on maintaining the fiction that the youtube backyard brawler was as badass as his beard and blackness made him seem. It took 14 seconds to dismantle this carefully constructed myth. I buttonholed Bas Rutten after the presser and he looked stricken. It was a good ride until the wheels came off.

I’m a Mac Baby, so I’m not inclined to favor the Wintel monopoly. But if this is the best EliteXC has got, then perhaps the UFC should rule the roost. The only exception I can think of is Affliction’s Arlovski-Nelson advertorial. At the event, I leaned on Tom Atencio’s shoulder and asked him what he paid the fighters. He demurred, which was kind—he should have called security. Theirs was by far the best fight of the night and the only indication throughout this fiasco that there is the potential for life in USA MMA outside Zuffa’s biosphere.

It was not a good night for over-the-hill white veterans or their over-hyped black competition. If Saturday had been a presidential election night, I would have voted for Ron Paul.