EliteXC: Heat Thoughts

October 5, 2008

- One item of interest on the show was the ubiquity of the Affliction ads. In either a commentary on the power of network TV or the poor platforms that have hosted Fedor previously, the ads did more to raise Fedor’s profile in the US than the whole of his fighting career up to this point. While that was great for the profile of Fedor and the Affliction brand, you have to take a look at the flip side of that for what it says about EliteXC. If there were that many Affliction ads, what you weren’t seeing were a multitude of ads from mainstream companies. That could be an indication of poor ad sales leading up to the show. MMAPayout.com inquired early in the week about ad sales for the show, and a CBS publicity department that is usually quick with response was vague on the details this time around. Some of the companies that previously bought time on the the May and July shows were conspicuously absent. If CBS was unable to move ad inventory for the card, that could signal just as much of a KO to the promotion’s network position as anything Seth Petruzelli did on the night.

-EliteXC was in a Catch-22 situation with the Kimbo fight. They needed Kimbo to fight on the show in order to have any chance of putting up a good rating number that might in some way maintain their viability on CBS. In order to do that, they had to put him in with a legitimate MMA fighter, which has never been (and probably never will be) the plan with regards to Kimbo. Whatever the odds were in Vegas, Slice is an underdog if he is facing anyone with an extended background in MMA. To stand any chance of living to fight another day they had to put Slice into a match-up that he had little realistic shot of winning and remaining a fighter of interest with the general public.Slice could have taken a walk and left CBS and EliteXC slowly twisting in the wind, his reputation still intact but to his credit he took the fight. Kimbo will most likely live to fight another day in the MMA cage, but it will be deflated of the hype that has lifted him to the lofty heights he has attained to this point.

-Gina Carano put on another great performance, and the crowd was responsive to her. The blogosphere will load for bear on the weight issue the next time she fights, per the usual, and again the crowds will be hot for her fight more than 90% of whatever else is on the card. Weight issues are of vital importance to those that view MMA through the sporting prism, but it is often lost on these folks that the sport is as much an entertainment entity as anything else, whether it be EliteXC or UFC. Some of the MMA bloggers come from a boxing background and generally misplace the context from which the huge popularity of the UFC/MMA has sprung. Lost in translation is the fact that the UFC has risen to prominence on an entertainment channel (Spike TV) and not a sports channel (like ESPN or Versus). Also lost are the noted gains that the UFC and the like have received from the pro wrestling crowds that could care less about the issue (the WWE lead-in that made TUF a franchise, the 300,000 WWE fans that bought Brock’s UFC debut). The blogosphere make a much bigger deal in regards to making weight than the promotions themselves, who generally give it a muted criticism and have yet to cancel a fight because of it. It is a noble cause by the internet media in some respects, but the ship seems to have sailed at this point when it comes to how the viewers/crowds and the promotions themselves handle the issue.

-Andre Arlovski put on a striking clinic in his performance against Roy Nelson. Arlovski’s performance and the multitude of signage and commercials look to give Affliction something they heretofore haven’t had with respect to their fighting promotion: knowledge amongst the general public that they exist. Arlovski’s performance paired with the heavy rotation of Fedor clips give a possible match-up between the two at least some degree of traction with the three to four million folks who viewed the festivities.

-Outside of a Yamma 2 card, Ken Shamrock has essentially seen his days as an upper card fighter go by the way side with his non-performance on the EliteXC card. Shamrock, through a cut that evidently wasn’t of his doing, never the less submarined a main event on network television. The odds of promoters, PPV companies, casino operator’s, etc. being willing to invest their time and money in Shamrock as a fighter are slim at this point. Ken can look forward to a Severn-like career path of fighting on regional shows if he continues with his fighting career or he may be better served working on his commentating gigs, his Lion’s Den gym, and cornering his son. The latter may be the best option as his name seems to be Mudd at this point to the MMA power brokers.

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