Elite XC: Renegade review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on July 15, 2009, 7:34 AM
Elite XC: Renegade
Corpus Christi, Texas
-We open with a dance routine thing. Why? I have no idea. Maybe they’re trying to channel the old WFA? Who knows.
-Your hosts are Mauro Renallo, Stephen Quadros and Bill Goldberg. Quadros tries to tell us that the 160lbs division’s been created because of fighters having trouble with weight cutting. Well, no, but more on that later.
-We head backstage where Goldberg talks with Kimbo Slice about his upcoming MMA debut. Kimbo tells us the difference between preparing for a street fight and preparing for this fight is that he’s trained for this one and he’s focused.
Silva was a guy who I thought was a fantastic signing for EXC, as he’d always shown a ridiculous amount of potential and I always figured he’d end up with the UFC. I guess Zuffa never brought him in because he was at Super-Heavyweight though, well, until a pre-fight medical thing before the K1 USA show revealed he had a tumor on his pituitary gland which was the cause of his monstrous size in the first place. Subsequently he ended up having it removed, and was able to cut down to below 265lbs to fight at Heavyweight proper. This was, I believe, his last fight at SHW. His opponent here, Wiezorek, carries the unfortunate fact that he’s the only guy in the Zuffa era to win his first fight in the UFC and never be brought back to the Octagon, despite sporting a solid record of 11-1. Well, the win he had in the UFC was one of the sloppiest fights ever, so it’s sort of understandable. That and he looks to be in disgraceful shape.
Round One and Wiezorek shows he hasn’t changed since his UFC bout, bullrushing forward with his head down as Silva looks to land counterpunches. Silva easily stuffs the first takedown attempt, shrugging the big man off. Big knee up the middle lands for Silva as Wiezorek comes in. Wiezorek slow sup a little but then bulls ahead again, but this time Silva rocks him with a crisp combination and causes him to dive for a takedown. Sprawl by Silva and he transitions to take Wiezorek’s back with an over/under. Wiezorek manages to turn into half-guard but takes some bombs, and then Silva passes into full mount. Wiezorek is in big trouble and he gives his back, but Silva decides not to go for the choke and keeps pounding away. Wiezorek rolls back to the mount position and takes some BRUTAL PUNCHES, and this time when Wiezorek gives his back Silva locks up the rear naked choke for the tapout.
Total squash as once again Silva showed a lot of potential and some seriously crushing ground-and-pound. To be fair Wiezorek fought a terrible, terrible fight and how he managed to win 11 fights with that style I don’t know, but that’s beside the point, Silva blew him out in under a round and made it look easy. Excellent performance from ‘Pezao’ who looks like a monster at 265lbs.
Post-fight we get a hilarious moment as Goldberg asks Silva “Who’s next?” and Silva is just like, YESS. I don’t think he understood the question, Bill.
As noted in his name, Kleinbeck is a legit practicing doctor as opposed to just picking up the random ‘Doctor’ nickname like Josh Neer’s done with ‘The Dentist’. Last time I saw him he was at LHW, losing to future TUF finalist Josh Haynes. Noke is an Australian fighter who I’ve never heard of, but his last fight prior to this was a draw with the always-dangerous Hector Lombard so he can’t be bad, and hilariously his old job was as a bodyguard for Steve ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Irwin.
First round begins and they circle off and throw out some feeler strikes, nothing really landing flush, although Noke gets a couple of left jabs in. Good low kick by Noke, but Kleinbeck catches it and gets a takedown. He lands in side mount but right away Noke gets half-guard back. Good scramble by Noke gets him to full guard and he stays active from his back, looking to set up a possible triangle choke. Kleinbeck tries to work some ground-and-pound, but it’s nothing too damaging as Noke continues to attempt armbars and triangles from his back. Good job done by Kleinbeck to avoid an armbar but Noke looks more in control from his back. Kleinbeck decides to bring the fight back standing, where Noke narrowly misses a superman punch. They exchange some punches with neither man really having the upper hand, and the round ends there. Round goes to Kyle Noke on my scorecard, 10-9.
2nd round and Kleinbeck presses forward with punches, but he gets too wild and Noke drops for a takedown. Kleinbeck reverses with a whizzer and almost throws Noke to his back, but Noke reverses on the way down and takes mount, then gets the back with both hooks in. Kleinbeck works to turn into the guard but Noke does a good job of controlling him, and looks to lock up the rear naked choke. Kleinbeck does well to avoid it, and then manages to roll into Noke’s guard. Again Noke keeps an active guard, but the ref steps in to bring them back to their feet. Kleinbeck swings with some wild punches, but Noke avoids them and then throws a combo into a takedown, putting Noke on his back in a butterfly guard. Kleinbeck turns for a kimura, but Noke easily avoids it and stacks up in the guard, landing some shots that open a cut over the left eye of the doctor. Looks a nasty one, too, and Noke keeps working away with shots from the top. Ref steps in to call time on the cut, and it looks like the blood’s running into Kleinbeck’s eye. Doctor examines it and it’s a SICK GASH like he’s been hit with an axe, and they call the fight there. Replay shows a right elbow did the damage.
Decent little fight, albeit nothing spectacular. Kleinbeck didn’t really have much in the way of offense despite spending the majority of the first round on top, and Noke controlled the fight practically every time it hit the mat, looking pretty slick down there. Good win for the Aussie in his US debut as he showed some solid skills all-round.
Unbelievably Mauro tells us post-fight that two out of the three judges gave Kleinbeck the first round, which just goes to show the naivety of them sometimes, as the guy did nothing from the top and almost got caught in an armbar twice!
Originally this was for the vacant EXC Welterweight Title, but Xtreme Couture fighter Pyle’s contract ran out after this fight and he decided not to sign a new one, so I guess EXC decided to nix the idea of giving a guy on his way out of the company a shot at the belt. Makes sense to me although it’s got to piss Jake Shields off greatly, and really who would want to piss Jake Shields off? Not me. Especially at this stage when Shields was beginning his “I’m not a boring fighter, really” campaign and killing everyone they put in front of him. General consensus was that Shields had Pyle beaten in Pyle’s strongest area (grappling) and thus the Cesar Gracie student would probably win.
We’re underway and Shields shoots in for a takedown, but looks hurt by a knee from Pyle who follows up with another one! Shields dives for a double leg and this time he manages to get it, driving Pyle down and popping out of a guillotine attempt pretty easily. Pyle ends up seated against the cage and Shields works for the mount, but Pyle uses the cage to get to his feet. Shields pins him into the fence in a clinch and they exchange strikes inside, before breaking off. Shields shoots on a double again and gets Pyle down, but again Pyle works back to his feet. Trip takedown from Pyle this time, but Shields reverses the second they hit the ground and takes top position. Pyle looks to work the rubber guard, but Shields works to pass and gets into half-guard. Pyle tries to work a butterfly guard back in, and really pulls on his leg for the rubber guard, but Shields is too slick for that and he works free into side mount. Knee-on-belly into full mount follows and Pyle is in trouble. The Xtreme Couture fighter tries to roll, but Shields grabs a rear naked choke as soon as he turns his back and forces the tapout.
Really good grappling-based fight; Pyle is no slouch on the ground but Shields is just a monster there and as soon as Pyle made a mistake the fight was literally over. This was Jake’s ninth win in a row and his fourth first-round finish, too, clearly establishing him as the top 170lbs fighter outside the UFC at this time.
Massive intrigue around this one of course as up to this point, YouTube street fighting legend Kimbo’s lone MMA fight was a weird sort-of-unsanctioned thing with former boxing champ Ray Mercer, with Kimbo winning via guillotine choke. The Kimbo popularity always struck me as a little odd as you would’ve thought people would’ve seen the whole Sean Gannon debacle, but I guess they don’t care about that and just love the big scary black dude with the crazy beard. Well, he’s charismatic, I’ll give him that. His original opponent here had been PRIDE veteran Mike Bourke (don’t remember him? He got tapped by Alexander Otsuka of all people...) but Bourke pulled out for whatever reason and so perennial jobber Bo Cantrell (he of the bleached moustache) stepped in on relatively late notice. Cantrell’s previous fight? A gogoplata loss to BRAD IMES. Think about that for a second. Ludicrous pop for Kimbo upon his ring entrance. Hard to believe that many people had seen his YouTube fights!
And here we go! Kimbo comes forward right away and Cantrell misses with a spinning backfist. Low kick from Cantrell but Kimbo wades in with a big right to the body, and follows with an overhand elbow to the back of the head that drops Cantrell face-first. Kimbo pounces and drops a couple of shots and Bo taps out there. Fight went nineteen seconds.
Obviously the “fix” allegation quickly came over this one but watching it here it looks less like a fix and more like Cantrell just didn’t want to be in there and once he got hit he looked for a way out, as in tapping fast. Word was that he was sick, vomiting backstage pre-fight, which makes more sense of that theory too. Not much of a fight if we’re being fair but in terms of getting Kimbo over even more as a star this was tremendous.
As it goes, as much as hardcore fans (including myself) disliked it, EXC pushing Kimbo was smart from a money-making standpoint and if they could’ve kept the facade up – as in, using Kimbo as a side attraction against low-level opponents while they built their genuinely talented fighters like Lawler, Silva and Shields as stars - it might’ve saved them. Of course they went the other way and pushed Kimbo as the headlining poster-boy, and naturally if you push a guy like that the fans will call for him to take on top opposition fast. Kimbo didn’t even make it that far in the end, but I guess hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Ah well.
See, for as much as hardcore fans maligned EXC for pushing Kimbo, I always thought this sort of shady practice was worse. So you have Nick Diaz and Jake Shields on your roster. Both are fantastic fighters and both are worth pushing as stars, only problem is they’re longtime friends and teammates who won’t fight one another, and they both fight at 170lbs. So what do you do? Well, Nick can sort-of starve himself down to 160lbs, so let’s make our Lightweight class with a 160lbs limit as opposed to the usual 155lbs, and that way both guys can have a belt! It’s the sort of thing that damaged boxing (too many weight classes and titles) and for a boxing promoter like Gary Shaw to introduce it into MMA soured me on EXC greatly. On paper this looked to be a set-up bout for Diaz, as Noons, despite showing some early promise after winning the PRIDE open tryouts and getting a couple of highlight reel KOs, had lost a lot of his lustre when Krazy Horse Bennett knocked him senseless at EXC’s inaugural show in February.
Both men look pretty intense pre-fight, especially Diaz but did you expect any different there? First round begins and Noons opens with a bodyshot as Diaz stalks forward, pawing with his jab. Single leg attempt from Diaz, but Noons defends it along the cage and escapes, landing a short uppercut on the way out. Diaz throws some punches coming in, but takes another bodyshot and an uppercut. Diaz goes for the takedown again but Noons stuffs it. Diaz keeps coming forward winging punches, but Noons is ducking his head nicely to avoid them and he stuffs a couple more takedown attempts, too. Combo from Diaz lands and Noons is forced to block a high kick. Big right hand tags Diaz and Noons narrowly misses a knee to follow up. Diaz begins to go into his customary taunting now, but he shoots on a takedown directly into a nasty knee. Diaz gets him down this time with a double leg, but Diaz has a cut according to Goldberg, though we can’t see it yet. Immediate pass from Diaz and he takes KJ’s back, but Noons does a good job of slipping free and escapes to his feet. Referee calls time to check Diaz’s cut and it’s a gash over his right eye. It’s quite a nasty one, but nothing like Seth Kleinbeck’s from earlier.
They decide to let it go on and restart, and Diaz pushes forward with strikes, but Noons counters with a sharp right that seats Diaz on the mat! Diaz goes to his back and Noons follows up with some haymakers over the top, but he doesn’t want anything to do with the ground game and Diaz now comes forward in the crab position before standing. Right high kick blocked by Diaz but he looks cut over both eyes now. Noons avoids a takedown and Diaz drops to the crab again before standing. Diaz continues to push forward, but he’s got a desperate look about him now and Noons does a good job of sticking and moving, landing counters as he does so. Straight right from Noons knocks Diaz’s mouthpiece out and there’s blood everywhere now. Nick shoots on a double leg again, but Noons manages to defend it well, and the round ends with Noons punching at the body before Diaz finishes the double leg.
Between rounds the doctor stops the fight due to Diaz’s cuts, and Diaz COMPLETELY LOSES IT and storms out of the cage, walking up the ramp to the back and flipping off the crowd. KJ Noons is your new Elite XC Lightweight Champion.
For as much as it must be frustrating for a fighter to lose a fight on a cut stoppage, let’s be fair, Diaz was not winning this fight by any stretch of the imagination at the time of the stoppage. Granted he had a big advantage on the ground and probably would’ve looked to put Noons there in the second round, but standing Noons was landing counter shots pretty much every time Diaz attacked, and it wasn’t like he used slicing elbows to cut Diaz up either – he was beating him up standing and even dropped him in that round. Great win for KJ Noons who was a big underdog, and although I’m a Diaz fan I can’t say that it was a horrible thing to see EXC’s plans to hand Nick a belt blow up in their face.
Post-fight Goldberg cuts a hilarious promo saying he loves blood and guts more than ANYONE, but the fighters safety has to come first. Crowd are not happy to say the least and Goldberg cuts Noons off while he’s thanking people, saying “Alright, you can thank the rest of the world later, for now lets look at the replays...” Ha, this guy is brilliant. Whole interview is a comedy soundbite. “I am #1!” “Well, if you said Diaz was #1, then you just beat #1, and you are now #1 kid!” Jesus Christ.
-Announcers wrap up the night’s results and then we roll the highlights.
In a way, this show summed up a lot of what was good and bad about Elite XC. On the good side, all of the fights were pretty decent, most of them had hot finishes and none went the distance or could be considered boring. Main event was a really good fight and Shields-Pyle was excellent in terms of the grappling. But the birth of the 160lbs division, basically created for Nick Diaz, was annoying and obviously the beginning of the push for Kimbo Slice to be the company’s poster-boy began here and ended with the death of the promotion. Still, looking at the fights alone, this is a fun show and is worth a look if only for the Shields-Pyle and Noons-Diaz fights.
Best Fight: Noons-Diaz
Worst Fight: Kimbo-Cantrell
Overall Rating: ****
UFC: 94-100, Fight Nights 17-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
Elite XC: Street Certified and Unfinished Business.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.