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Elite XC: Street Certified review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on July 16, 2009, 7:26 AM

Elite XC: Street Certified

Miami, Florida

-Opening video package is absolutely hilarious, with Mauro explaining that Kimbo is the internet sensation, but Tank has been knocking out dudes since before the internet was invented. This is perhaps both the best and worst fight in the history of MMA.

-Your hosts are Mauro Renallo, Stephen Quadros and Bill Goldberg. Mauro sums up Kimbo/Tank perfectly, saying that some are calling it sport, most are calling it a spectacle, but either way it’s must-see.

Heavyweight Fight: Brett Rogers vs James Thompson

Hard to believe really with the benefit of hindsight that it was Thompson - making his US debut - that was being pushed by EXC as a possible future star as opposed to Rogers. Admittedly Rogers was largely unknown, but he’d already racked up a 6-0 record with all wins coming via strikes, and while Thompson had shown some flashes of talent and usually put on fun fights, his chin was hugely questionable and he’d been knocked out by Neil Grove in his previous fight. Mauro actually makes a mention of his chin being dodgy pre-fight, but Quadros shrugs it off, saying that if a guy like Butterbean hits anyone on the chin they’re probably going out. Goldberg then makes a fair point (!), saying that Thompson’s been quoted as saying he’s going to use his usual “gong and dash” gameplan, and if that’s the case, then why did he bother to train at Xtreme Couture to round out his game?

Bell sounds and sure enough Thompson comes charging out of his corner, grabbing Rogers in a bodylock and looking for a takedown. Rogers defends it and Thompson changes to a single leg, but still can’t get Brett down. Finally he manages to throw Rogers to the ground, but they scramble as soon as they hit the deck and Brett’s back up to his feet. Knee from Thompson and he looks for a bodylock takedown again, but Rogers defends it once again. Rogers slugs at the body as they muscle for position, and suddenly Rogers breaks off with a combo that rocks Thompson momentarily. Thompson ducks for a takedown again and drives Rogers into the fence, this time getting him down, but again Rogers uses the fence to pop right back up. This time Rogers breaks with a knee, and then OPENS UP with a CRUSHING COMBO that knocks Thompson silly. “Mauro, YOU WERE RIGHT!” yells Quadros. Yes Stephen, yes he was.

Big dude with devastating power + big dude with a glass chin = big time highlight reel knockout. That’s about it, really. Rogers has actually surprised me since by knocking out Andrei Arlovski in his big step up in competition, but until someone takes him into deep water he’s still a largely unknown quantity I think. This one was not much of a fight, but who can complain about a sickening knockout like that? Not I, that’s for sure. Post-fight we get another classic:

Rogers: When I touch people, they go down.
Goldberg: Well, uh, don’t touch me.

Did I ever mention that I LOVE BILL GOLDBERG?

Lightweight Fight: Yves Edwards vs Edson Berto

I like the guy, but there are very few fighters who fell quite as fast as Yves Edwards did from the top. Think about it, in 2004 this guy was ranked by many as top three, maybe even #1 in the world in the Lightweight division, and yet by the time he signed with Elite XC in late 2007 he’d lost five of his last six fights. He had at least shown signs of coming back to form though, winning his EXC debut and his next fight too, and this was seen as another possible step on the road to recovery for him. Berto meanwhile – the brother of boxer Andre – had reeled off two impressive wins under the EXC banner before being stopped by KJ Noons. He’d since bounced back with two wins, so this was basically a crossroads bout for both men. Goldberg loves Berto because, and I quote, “in his last fight he made me look like a genius with a heel hook that I PREDICTED”. I could quote this guy all day!

First round begins and they exchange some kicks and snapping punches. Body kick lands for Edwards and he follows with a right hand that snaps Berto’s head back. Berto looks okay though and then both men land pretty harsh sounding combos. Double leg from Berto puts Yves down on his back, but he uses a headlock to try an escape. Berto keeps him down and then looks to pass the guard, but Yves manages to retain half-guard. Sweep attempt from Edwards but Berto locks up a guillotine and pulls guard. It looks tight, but Edwards works into side control and then escapes, working his head free and then right away he transitions into a kimura attempt from top position in half-guard. Scramble from Berto though and he gets a butterfly guard in to avoid the submission. Yves works with punches to the body and head, landing some nice shots, as Berto tries to answer by flailing from his back. Referee surprisingly steps in and stands them, and from the restart Berto fires off a HARD right high kick that Yves narrowly blocks. Single leg attempt from Berto, but Edwards defends and counters with a JUMPING KNEE WITH HIS FREE LEG and Berto is down and OUT! WOW.

Yves stole that one right out of Urijah Faber’s playbook but it worked even better for Yves as it actually knocked Berto out, and damn, Edwards now has two of the coolest knockouts in MMA history under his belt with this and the flying kick on Josh Thomson. In terms of sheer flashiness this was probably the best finish of the year in fact. Whole fight was pretty great, one of the best one-round fights I can remember seeing, as the pace was very high, they came out throwing bombs standing and then both men did some great work on the ground too before the explosive finish. Gotta love it.

-Bill Goldberg is backstage conducting interviews with Kimbo Slice and Tank Abbott. Kimbo’s posse is huge apparently. And Tank, despite literally looking like he just woke up from a nap, is here to spoil the party. In fact he actually tells Goldberg he’s just had a nap. And he takes all of his fights seriously and for this one he’s even trained. This man benches 600lbs. Holy Christ.

Middleweight Fight: Scott Smith vs Kyle Noke

Former Crocodile Hunter bodyguard Noke had made a victorious debut in EXC with a win over Dr. Seth Kleinbeck three months prior to this, while the nearly-always-exciting Smith had been released from the UFC following two successive losses and was looking to rejuvenate his career in a new promotion. As it goes I’m surprised UFC cut Smith – sure, he’s not one of the greatest fighters in the world or anything, but he rarely has boring fights (ignore the Patrick Cote debacle!) and I figured the Pete Sell KO would’ve probably earned him a Zuffa Job For Life (tm). Ah well. Noke’s new nickname is apparently ‘THE AUSSIE’. Wow, original.

We get underway and Noke throws out some early jabs as Smith circles around him looking to set something up. Crowd get impatient pretty early as little happens in the first minute or so. Good leg kick from Noke. Noke keeps on jabbing and Smith is basically doing nothing in this round so far. Crowd are getting really frustrated now as Noke continues to land his shots, but he’s not hurting Smith in any way and Smith’s counters are missing by a mile. One-two finally lands for Smith but Noke covers up and deflects it. Push kick to the gut from Noke and he follows with a left hand. One minute to go and this has been an awful round. With seconds to go Smith swings some haymakers, but can’t land cleanly and the round ends shortly after. Terrible round but it has to go to Noke as he at least landed punches throughout, even if they weren’t damaging.

Into the 2nd and Noke looks to jab away, but Smith counters with a BRUTAL RIGHT HAND and knocks Noke DEAD!~!

Wow. Brutal, brutal shot for the knockout. Smith totally lived up to the ‘Hands of Steel’ nickname there as he just ended Noke’s night with one punch. Replay shows Noke was stiff before he even hit the mat and for those who were disgusted with Dan Henderson on Saturday, well, check this out. Or Rashad Evans vs. Sean Salmon, or Rampage vs. Silva, or Gomi vs. Azeredo, and well, I’m on a tangent now. First round of this fight was atrocious but that was an awesome knockout by Smith, who, even if he’s losing badly, always has that possible equalizer in the form of his thunderous punching power.

-We go to a pre-taped video of Goldberg training with Kimbo Slice, including a clip of them side-by-side punching dummies from the mount. Just as funny as it sounds.

Heavyweight Fight: Antonio Silva vs Ricco Rodriguez

This was Silva’s first fight proper at Heavyweight, although he’d weighed in at 265lbs for his Super-Heavyweight fight with Jonathan Wiezorek. I forget who his original opponent was supposed to be, but I know Ricco took the fight on short notice. He’s in pretty bad shape too, albeit looking better than the 300+lbs he ballooned to in 2006. Still, it’s hard to believe this guy once crushed Randy Couture and looked set to rule the UFC’s Heavyweight division. Silva was actually Ricco’s first real top-level Heavyweight opponent for some time, unless you count Ben Rothwell, who decisioned him at an IFL show the previous September. Goldberg pre-fight tells us that while you can’t question Ricco’s fighting talent, “as a human being the jury is still out”. He has a point to be fair, what with the whole story Ricco told during his stint on Celebrity Rehab.

First round gets started and both men press forward tentatively, throwing out some feeler strikes. Crowd get restless before Silva comes forward with a left hand that lands and has Ricco backing up. Good body kick from Ricco but he gets tagged by a left that puts him on the retreat again. Silva continues to press forward with the left hand, keeping Ricco at a distance, and then lands a leg kick and a right hand that stuns the former UFC champion. Flying knee attempt misses for Ricco and Silva lands the left hand again. Takedown from Rodriguez puts Silva on his back in the guard though. Little happens in the way of offense, as Silva manages to tie Ricco up from the bottom and avoid any damage from Ricco’s ground-and-pound. Nice short elbow from Ricco though with twenty seconds to go. Round ends with Rodriguez grinding away in Silva’s guard. Close round actually.

Round Two and Silva presses with some strikes, landing a leg kick and then a good one-two that puts Ricco on the run again. Superman punch misses for Rodriguez and he eats a right hand for his troubles. Good leg kick from Silva and he narrowly avoids it being caught and turned into a single leg. Beautiful right to the body from Silva and Ricco shoots, but Silva stuffs it and they end up clinched along the fence. Ankle pick attempt from Ricco fails badly and he ends up on his back taking some punches. Silva looks to pass the guard and then takes an over/under from the back, where he lands some punches as Ricco tries to roll out. Silva takes top position in side mount but Ricco manages to turn into half-guard. Thudding punches and hammer fists land for Silva from the top, but Ricco does a good job of not taking a huge amount of damage. He is cut over his left eye now though. One minute to go and Ricco manages to work into full guard, but he continues to take hammer fists until the ref calls the break. Ricco tells the ref he can’t see out of his left eye so they call time to clean the blood away, but he’s okay to continue. They restart standing and Ricco misses a spinning back kick before shooting in. Sprawl from Silva to avoid and he ROLLS FOR THE ANACONDA CHOKE! Holy crap, did not expect that! He can’t catch Ricco with it though and ends up taking top position in half-guard instead to close the round with some punches.

Third and final round and Ricco comes forward, narrowly avoiding a left hook. Low kick lands for Rodriguez, but Silva comes back with a double leg into half-guard. Rodriguez tries to tie him up from the bottom, but Silva stands and delivers some hammer fists while trying to pass the legs, before dropping back into the guard. Some chopping, conservative ground-and-pound lands for Silva but the crowd get restless and referee Jorge Ortiz stands them up. Silva comes forward with a couple of combos, but Ricco takes them and fires back, and then drops for a double leg. Silva blocks it but Ricco manages to get a single leg to Silva’s guard, where Bigfoot just looks to tie Ricco up. Ricco looks to work from the top with punches, but he can’t pass the guard and the fight ends with the former UFC champion in top position.

Close fight to call but I think I’d give it to Silva 29-28, taking the final two rounds. Judges score it 29-28 Rodriguez, 30-27 Silva, and 29-28 for Silva, giving the Brazilian the split decision. Guess it was close indeed. Fight wasn’t the greatest, as things slowed down a lot in the third round and there were a few portions of inactivity, but it wasn’t all bad as some of the ground work in the second round particularly was good, and Silva going for an anaconda choke was insane. Ricco actually impressed me more than Silva here as I expected Bigfoot to blow right through him, but despite being in poor shape Rodriguez didn’t just lay down for Silva and gave him his toughest test to date. Post-fight Silva explains that he was coming in with a torn MCL and wasn’t able to fight at his best. Understandable really. Still a scary dude.

Heavyweight Fight: Kimbo Slice vs Tank Abbott

Ha, now we’re talking. See, I didn’t like what the Kimbo push became, as EXC ended up trying to put him over as some sort of genuine contender in the Heavyweight division. But side-show, almost-pro-wrestling stuff like this? I’m all for it. Basically EXC were pushing this as the street fighting legend of the past against the street fighting legend of the present, and also had an East Coast/West Coast theme with Tank being from Huntington Beach, California and Kimbo from Miami, Florida. I mean sure, in reality this was a fight between a guy who had one win over a tomato can and a guy who was about ten years (if not more) past his prime and hadn’t been that great to begin with, but who cares about all of that? Nobody’s trying to claim either guy is the best fighter in the world, nobody’s trying to make out that this will impact the rankings. This is the BATTLE OF THE STREET FIGHTERS. In terms of spectacle (in the US at least) it doesn’t get any better or frankly, more hilarious than Kimbo Slice vs. Tank Abbott. Pre-fight introductions see Tank booed out of the building while Kimbo gets the monster pop, well, it is in Miami, but I doubt whether Tank cares about being booed anyway. Tank’s beer gut is EPIC for this fight. Epic.

And to a ridiculous crowd pop we are underway! Tank comes right out and swings a left haymaker before bulling Kimbo into the cage, but Slice quickly breaks away. And HERE WE GO as they exchange wild punches with Kimbo dropping Tank with two left hands! Kimbo tries to follow with more shots as Tank crawls for an ankle pick, and the ref steps in...but he’s called time for an illegal shot to the back of the head! Tank is up and they restart...but the ref calls time again to search for Kimbo’s mouthpiece. They quickly spot it on the mat and IT’S ON. Jabs from Kimbo and then they TRADE OFF and Tank goes down off a right hand! Again he looks for the ankle pick but Kimbo avoids and drops him with another right as he pops up. Tank comes back up a third time, but he’s mad wobbly now and a BIG COMBO DROPS HIM FACE FIRST!~!

Fight went exactly as advertised – just two big brawlers exchanging punches until one guy got knocked down and out. Post-fight Quadros tries to sell it as a big deal because Tank only got KOd clean by Pedro Rizzo before, but come on, it’s not like this win gives Kimbo any credibility as a genuine fighter or anything. That wasn’t the point – this was pure spectacle and in that sense it was absolutely fantastic. The thing is, people aren’t going to take a guy like Kimbo seriously as a genuine contender and to push him as such (as EXC ended up doing after this show) makes a mockery of the promotion. But putting him in spectacle fights like this attracts viewers, viewers who may not have watched the show otherwise. And those viewers would get to see stuff like Edwards-Berto and it’s that sort of fight that might turn them into fully fledged MMA fans, which is obviously a good thing. There’s a place in MMA for Kimbo Slice and Tank Abbott, it’s just a matter of the promotion finding that place properly. And here, Elite XC had it down perfectly.

Post-fight Kimbo puts Tank over as one of his heroes, saying his two dream matches were this and Mike Tyson.

-The announcers wrap up the results of the show and then we roll the highlights.

Final Thoughts....

I’m sure some fans would’ve despised this show, as there’s literally nothing of substance outside of the decent, if a little slow Rodriguez-Silva fight and an explosive but short fight between Berto and Edwards. But hey, we got four out of five fights ending in brutal, highlight-fashion knockouts, the main event delivered exactly what was advertised and while it’s not a classic MMA fight or anything it was certainly fun to watch. The whole show had a hilarious atmosphere around it, and if you’re willing to accept a spectacle fight as a main event and just laugh at the whole ‘street fight’ debacle then you’ll enjoy this show greatly, as I did. Thumbs up.

Best Fight: Edwards-Berto
Worst Fight: Smith-Noke

Overall Rating: ****

Coming Soon....

UFC: 94-100, Fight Nights 17-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
Pride: 31.
DREAM: 1-9
Elite XC: Unfinished Business.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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