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Elite XC: Heat review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on April 25, 2011, 5:45 AM

Elite XC: Heat

Sunrise, Florida

-This was the third EXC show to be broadcast live on CBS, and also ended up being one of the most infamous shows in MMA history. If you can’t remember why, well, you’ll find out later.

-Intro is EXACTLY THE SAME as today’s Strike Force shows, which just goes to show how the production side of things in that promotion is totally done by Showtime.

-Your hosts are Gus Johnson, Frank Shamrock and Mauro Renallo. The show begins with a clip of the staredown at the weigh-ins between Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock...before Gus explains that Ken is now out of the fight having cut his eye warming up, and so Seth Petruzelli is taking his place. And thus the end for EXC is in sight. We then cut to an interview with Ken and the cut and stitches is visible. Ken claims he could’ve fought through it but the doctors wouldn’t allow him and it’s hard for him to swallow. I’ve heard all sorts of stories surrounding this one (Ken went into sparring too hard because he was pissed over his paycheque, etc) but I won’t get into them as nothing’s been confirmed even now, two and a half years on. From there they cut to an interview with the doctor who explains that the cut was caused by an accidental headbutt and that he had to pull Ken for his own safety.

-So much for not mentioning the rumors as Frank Shamrock outright questions what Ken was doing backstage as he’s never seen him sparring lightly before and says he might’ve damaged the ‘Shamrock legacy’ with this mess. Methinks though that Frank might’ve been trying to build a future Shamrock vs. Shamrock match so who knows what the truth is? Mauro compares the situation to the UFC 24 incident where Kevin Randleman slipped and KOd himself backstage.

Middleweight Fight: Benji Radach vs Murilo Ninja

Ha, totally forgot about this one. Ninja was, I believe, coming off a really brutal knockout win over the hugely overhyped Tony Bonello, while this was Radach’s first big fight in a long, long time after he’d been out of the game for a while before returning for a brief run in the IFL.

First round and they circle before Radach hurts the Brazilian with some punches. He swings for the fences but Ninja answers back and both men go down for a moment before popping up. Big one-two from Radach wobbles Ninja again and he looks in deep trouble here. More punches have him stumbling all over the place and Benji tries to finish, but then surprisingly drops for a takedown and lets Ninja off the hook. He gives up on that and keeps swinging, and again Ninja looks wobbled, but then he throws back and both men go down at the same time. Ninja looks more hurt and Radach pounces on him and takes the back, then gets full mount briefly before Ninja reverses and gets on top. They come back up to their feet in a clinch and Ninja looks for a takedown, but almost gets caught in a guillotine before they break off. Flying knee to the body from Ninja and now he comes in swinging, but Radach drops for a takedown and gets it, landing in side mount. Rua squirms from the bottom and almost gets a kimura, but Radach postures out and ends up in the guard. Heel hook attempt from Ninja and Radach looks in difficulty, but he manages to slip his leg free and winds up on top again. Half-guard for Ninja and he looks for a guillotine, but Radach easily works free, Another heel hook attempt follows but Benji rolls through and manages to avoid. Whizzer allows Rua to reverse into top position, but Radach quickly looks to get to his feet, only for Rua to get an over/under where he controls Radach to end the round. That was a great round.

2nd round and Rua stalks forward with a pair of good leg kicks. Good knee to the body follows for the Brazilian. Ninja continues to push the action and lands a couple more kicks and another knee to the body. A big right hand connects for Radach on the counter though and quickly backs Ninja up. He recovers though and begins to stalk again, and it looks like Radach is getting tired. Takedown attempt from Ninja is stuffed and Radach uses a whizzer to escape. Ninja comes forward again with kicks and knees, but walks right into a left counter that drops him, and Radach comes over the top with two HUGE RIGHT HANDS that knock the Brazilian clean out. Vicious stuff.

Very entertaining fight, if a little sloppy at times. This was a big win for Radach at the time but he ended up being knocked out by Scott Smith in his next fight and hasn’t really bounced back since, last being seen losing in disappointing fashion to prospect Ovince St-Preux.

-Gina Carano talks backstage about her issues cutting weight to make 140lbs, and we get a little highlight of her having to strip down behind towels (!) to hit the mark. Of course that was a HUGE deal when it happened. Gina definitely has some charisma to go with her looks though which is why she caught on so well with the crowds.

Women’s Middleweight Fight: Gina Carano vs Kelly Kobald

This is three three-minute rounds as opposed to five minutes. Kobald looks exactly how you’d imagine a female MMA fighter to look, which is of course nothing like Gina Carano. Crowd give Gina a ridiculous pop. Seriously amazing.

Fight begins and Gina lands an overhand right before Kobald clinches and looks for the takedown. Gina defends it nicely and they muscle for position before Kobald appears to grab Gina’s hair to land an uppercut and a kick to the body. Carano breaks off and catches her with a one-two and they trade some punches with Gina getting the better of it due to her reach. Plum clinch from Gina leads Kobald to attempt another takedown, but again Gina stuffs it, and they trade punches to end the round. Kobald is sporting a bloody nose.

Round Two and Gina uses her reach again to land a right hand that stuns Kobald. Kobald tries to answer but she’s losing the striking game and Gina grabs the plum clinch to land a big knee. Kobald forces her into the cage in the clinch and they trade some knees before breaking to trade punches for a moment. Kobald goes for the takedown again but Gina blocks and manages to back out. Again Gina begins to pick Kobald apart in the striking exchanges, using her reach to land pretty clean hooks. Jumping knee misses for Gina but she’s still getting the better of the stand-up. Kobald finally manages a takedown with a few seconds remaining, and works some ground-and-pound until the bell sounds. Gus calls it a good round for Kobald – I’d call him insane as that was quite clearly Carano’s round!

Third and final round and both women are bloody as Kobald has a cut over her right eye while Gina is bleeding from the mouth. Big chant for Gina as she works to stuff a takedown again. Crowd begin to get restless with Kobald’s Nik Lentz-style tactics and referee Troy Waugh calls a break. Kobald starts to swing wildly but she eats two hooks and a big knee to the body coming into the clinch again. Couple of knees land inside for Gina and then she manages to lock up a standing rear naked choke with no hooks and uses it to drag Kobald down! Kobald manages to escape and comes to her feet, and they trade some more punches before Gina lands a front kick to the face. More kicks from Gina keep her distance and a pair of high kicks end the fight for her.

Judges all score it for Gina Carano. Fight was surprisingly entertaining as Carano’s striking looked good and was able to overcome the mainly wall-and-stall gameplan of Kobald. It’s a pity for Strike Force at least that Gina wasn’t able to beat Cris Cyborg, as she really comes off like a superstar and could’ve built Women’s MMA on her back I think, but obviously Cyborg won and let’s be frank, nobody really wants to see Cyborg smash other women up in one-sided beatdowns.

Heavyweight Fight: Andrei Arlovski vs Roy Nelson

Arlovski was “on loan” from Affliction here, as I believe this fight was a bit of a last-minute job to bolster the card after Affliction’s planned October show - which would’ve seen Andrei fight Josh Barnett - was cancelled. Affliction ended up sponsoring this show as part of the deal. Nelson was fresh out of his impressive IFL run, and while his mullet isn’t anywhere what it is today, his gut is just as big as ever.

Round One and Andrei looks to keep his distance, landing a pair of low kicks, but Nelson manages to close in and pins him to the cage. Arlovski tries a trip, but Nelson blocks and gets on top as they go down, passing into side mount. They spin around and Nelson goes for a far-side kimura, but Andrei scrambles and gets free. Nelson remains on top though, working from north/south before going back to side mount. Arlovski tries to kick him away but Big Country keeps top position and gets into half-guard. Kimura attempt from Nelson again and he slips into side mount for good measure, but the ref inexplicably steps in and calls a stand-up. Well, that’s laughable to say the least. Arlovski lands with a low kick off the restart but Nelson swings his way into the clinch again. Brutal knee lands inside for Arlovski but it doesn’t get Nelson off him. Ref calls another break when the crowd begin to boo, and Arlovski lands with a couple of solid combos as Nelson keeps pushing forward. Into the clinch again with seconds to go, and the round ends there. Clearly Roy Nelson’s round, 10-9.

-Tito Ortiz gives a ringside interview between rounds and teases signing with EXC, but of course that never happened.

Round Two and they exchange shots before Nelson wobbles Arlovski slightly with a left. He looks for the takedown again, but Andrei works to defend it against the cage and tries to muscle free. Nelson stays right on him and pushes him back into the fence, but Arlovski breaks and now Big Country looks tired. Big right hand lands for Andrei as Nelson drops his hands, and a left high kick and another right follow. Plum clinch from Andrei and he lands a pair of knees and a series of uppercuts, before ending things with a leg kick, right uppercut and BIG RIGHT CROSS.

Post-fight Nelson tries to protest the stoppage but I think he was probably done even if he does have a chin of granite. Beautiful shots from Andrei for the finish. If Nelson had wanted to protest anything it should’ve been the crappy stand-up in the first round, as he had Arlovski where he wanted him and the former UFC champ was clearly in deep trouble. Some people cried foul at EXC after this regarding that stand-up, but I’d say it was more incompetent refereeing than any promotional bias towards Arlovski as the commission chooses the referees anyway. Pretty good Heavyweight tilt even with the questionable refereeing and the knockout was brutal.

Elite XC Welterweight Title: Jake Shields vs Paul Daley

Shields had won the EXC Welterweight Title earlier in 2008 by choking out Nick Thompson, and at this stage with him it was a case of finding a decent opponent at 170lbs who wasn’t in the UFC, and thus Daley fitted the role down to a tee, even if he wasn’t as widely recognized as a top guy as he is today. As always with fights involving these two, common sense suggested Shields would win if he could get the takedown while Daley would win if he could keep the fight standing.

We begin and Shields opens with a couple of kicks, but then quickly shoots on a single once Daley connects with a left. Daley sprawls nicely and remains on his feet. Good low kick from Daley. Daley throws some punches from the outside and Shields definitely looks out of his element standing. A single leg follows though and this time Shields gets him down, immediately working into side mount. Good hip escape form Daley allows him back to guard, but Shields passes into side mount again and then slips into full mount. Few short punches land for Jake and he grapevines his legs underneath for good measure. Shields’ mount is pretty awesome. Good punches land to the body and head although Daley doesn’t look hurt by them. Daley scrambles into half-guard, but only for a second as Shields passes right back into side mount and then full mount. Daley is being owned on the ground here. More punches from Shields and it looks like he’s going for an armbar, but the cage gets in his way and he leaves it and goes back to the mount. Another attempt is unsuccessful again and this time Daley gets on top in the guard. Good elbows from the top from Daley and he stays on top to end the round. Jake Shields’ round, 10-9.

-Between rounds they interview Kimbo, who says his street fighting mindframe has changed, but the gameplan for this fight hasn’t. Pretty low-key stuff from Kimbo actually.

Into the 2nd and Daley opens with a head kick that narrowly misses. Shields throws out a couple of weak jabs with his chin high and Daley lands on him with a counter left that causes him to shoot. Good sprawl from Daley and he manages to avoid the takedown. Left hook from Daley and Shields drops to his back and tries a heel hook, but Daley explodes free. Shields looks pretty gassed actually. Lead left hook from Daley and he sprawls to avoid another takedown. Shields drops to his back but Daley’s having none of it and calls him back up. Punches from Daley but Shields grabs hold of him and manages to drag him onto his knees. Semtex works back to his feet, but Shields keeps a bodylock and brings him down again right into full mount. Shields creeps up with some punches and then looks to set up an armbar, but gives it up to drop some elbows. Good shots from Shields but Daley grins at him. Shields keeps working though and switches to side mount, then goes back to the full mount and locks up the armbar. This time it’s sunk beautifully and despite Daley trying to roll free, Shields tightens it up to force the tapout.

Solid fight as Shields looked awesome every time the fight hit the mat but very, very vulnerable in the standing portion. In terms of his upcoming fight with GSP, I’m sure Jake has improved since this fight but I just don’t think his takedowns are going to be able to put GSP on his back and standing it’s no contest. But still – like here – the thing that Shields seems able to do best is win, so who knows? As I alluded to in the pre-fight, this was the last fight at 170lbs for Shields until his arrival in the UFC, as there were just no opponents for him at that weight outside of Zuffa’s umbrella.

Heavyweight Fight: Kimbo Slice vs Seth Petruzelli

Announcers are selling this like Seth has the chance of a lifetime to beat the baddest man alive, which is ridiculous given that Petruzelli was about a thousand times more proven as a fighter than Kimbo, but it’s hardly surprising given the marketing push EXC were giving Kimbo at this point. Kimbo hype train is at it’s peak here, as Gus Johnson tries to claim that Kimbo’s always been about fighting anyone, anywhere, any time, and thus it isn’t surprising that he’d step up to fight a late replacement. That’s fair I guess as not all fighters would accept a late replacement on the night of the fight. Frank Shamrock actually gives the most ludicrous statement, comparing Seth to Rocky Balboa. Sigh. I remember now why it was so hard to stomach the Kimbo megapush – EXC were basically treating him as the new Mike Tyson. All of this on CBS, too!

Fight begins and Kimbo quickly closes in as Seth throws out some low front kicks trying to keep distance....then catches Slice with a short right jab that DROPS HIM FACE FIRST!~! Kimbo is in deep trouble and Seth quickly follows with some more shots for the stoppage! HAHAHA.

Announcers are absolutely ridiculous in reacting to this, selling it as the biggest upset in the history of MMA, which is just laughable. Replays of the knockout show EXC promoter Jared Shaw – son of Gary Shaw – at cageside flipping out at the referee as Seth was hitting the stunned Kimbo, claiming he was hitting the back of the head, which is insane as it outright shows promotional bias, but that ended up being the least of EXC’s worries.

Right after the show everyone was wondering how they’d react to the upset, as Kimbo was their big cash cow and now he’d been exposed horribly, but the promotion never had a chance to react, as Seth did a radio interview a couple of days after the fight claiming he’d been offered more money to keep the fight standing, which of course, as Dana White famously claimed, is “fucking illegal!”. The Florida State Athletic Commission immediately launched an investigation, and as the company was already haemorrhaging money it turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and Elite XC was soon filing for bankruptcy, becoming another one of the dead promotions that tried to compete with the UFC. Joe Rogan would later call Seth “the man who single-handedly killed Elite XC” and while that’s not entirely true, this debacle definitely played a major part in it which makes this show a historical curiosity.

-Announcers wrap up the show and continue to sell the “big upset” in the main event, and that’s it for the show and the end for Elite XC, too.

Final Thoughts....

If this were just another EXC show then it’d be worth a mild recommendation, as Shields-Daley, Arlovski-Nelson, Carano-Kobald and Radach-Ninja were all fun fights in their own right, albeit nothing special, but obviously the fact that it turned out to be the death knell for the promotion, complete with Seth Petruzelli exposing Kimbo Slice as what most educated fans had seen him for anyway, makes it basically a must-see. I doubt the show ever sees the light of day as a DVD release, but it’s out there as a download and if you’re an MMA fan, particularly one who wasn’t around during the Kimbo hype days, it’s definitely worth a look. Thumbs up.

Best Fight: Radach-Ninja
Worst Fight: Kimbo-Petruzelli

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 125-128, Fight Night 23, Versus 3
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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