EliteXC 7/26 Preview

July 25, 2008

Keys for the Night
One thing they need for these fights are definitive finishes. With the questionable ref stoppages, non stoppages, and doctor stoppages from the May card, a repeat with any or all of the 7/26 CBS fights will really hurt EliteXC as far as legitimacy in the mainstream viewers eyes. Viewers aren’t going to invest in your product if their isn’t a reasonable expectation that they are going to see a definitive conclusion to the contest you are giving them. While this is out of EliteXC’s hands to some degree, they are the ones that will suffer for it.

Another key for the EliteXC show is good time management and fitting their show into the two hour window the program has been scheduled for. The May show went over their alloted time by a wide margin and their was a minor backlash among affiliates that had their evening news shows delayed. Affiliates drive the financial train for the network, so they aren’t the folks you want to anger. Staying in within their time slot or having very minimal overages will be important for maintaining good relations with CBS.

Lawler vs Smith
The first time around this fight was hammocked in between the two stars the show was built around, Gina Carano and Kimbo Slice. Placed in that position it did a great job, increasing the quarter hour ratings each time, leading into the Kimbo fight. The fight this time is in a different context. They are carrying the weight of the headlining spot, without the accompanying hype of a Slice or Carano. In the absence of hype, these two will have to win the day with an action fight. With out the star power, they need to deliver the firepower.

This fight has a built in hook, via the controversial finish to their 5/31 show. It is a hook that has been heavily exploited in the network ads that CBS has been running the past two weeks. Their first fight started a bit slow but then evolved into a real life version of Rockem Sockem Robots, turning into a stand up war that had the crowd hot before the unfulfilling finish. I expect this fight to go much the same way with Lawler getting his usual slow start before the action starts cooking.

Diaz vs Denny
This match defines the old saying It is what it is. What it is is a squash match designed to get Diaz over with the network audience and set up an October showdown with 160lb champ KJ Noons. Almost important as the match are the efforts before and after the fight to get Diaz over as a personality, to build towards a Noons fight. Denny doesn’t look to be much of a challenge, so the onus will be on Diaz to carry the fight and provide a finish. Ideally, you have Noons there to hype the October showdown but after what happened in Hawaii in June, that may be the last thing you want on network TV.

Shields vs Thompson
This fight is a bone thrown to the hardcore fans, as the Shields vs Thompson pairing lacks any mainstream, casual appeal. It is no doubt this is a competitive fight between a Top 5 or 6 Welterweight (Shields) and another that is just on the cusp of the Top 10 (Thompson), but that is not really what a network audience is tuning in to see. The style match-up between the two may make for a long night, and possibly a judges decision that could put the brakes on the momentum of the fight card. The clear promotional push for this fight is behind Shields, but Thompson may upset the apple cart as he has the tools to make it a long night for Shields.

Cyborg vs Baszler
This fight looks to be leading off the CBS televised portion of the card, a good choice in my estimation. The casual, mainstream viewer is intrigued by MMA and making the first fight a women’s bout will add a further twist, hoping to get the viewer from the get-go instead of slowly building throughout the night like they did on the May card. With a much more rigid time slot on this show, they need to jump start the proceedings and having the women open the show has the best chance of doing that. The pairing of Cyborg and Baszler is a good one, and should lead to a definitive finish of some sort. Gina Carano will be on hand at this card and a scenario after the fight with a challenge being issued could lay the ground work for a future showdown either on network or PPV.

Rating Expectations
Without the high profile fighters of the first card, ProElite and CBS are both admittedly coming into this card with muted expectations. While a rating somewhere in the 2.5 range would be an excellent overall rating for the show, they are probably looking at somewhere in the low 2′s. Anything below a 2 would have to be a troubling sign to both Elite and CBS and a cause for concern.

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