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Elite XC’s Twisted Approach to Matchmaking

I don’t know why I was so discouraged to hear that Elite XC had decided to match Kimbo Slice against Ken Shamrock, with a Brett Rogers option reserved for some possible version of the future. I should have expected this. I guess I’m just too much of an optimist. I thought Elite XC might try for a competitive, somewhat meaningful fight instead. I’ll never learn.

It’s not that I don’t understand what Elite XC is thinking. If anything, that part is all too obvious. They want a name to put on the marquee next to Kimbo’s. Someone with drawing power, yes, but not someone who stands a good chance of winning. Preferably, they’d also like the next Kimbo victim to be susceptible to knockout. So they called on Shamrock, an over-the-hill legend who has been getting KO’d by a list of fighters that starts out fairly impressive and then gets less and less so as we near the present. He’s perfect, given their priorities, but that only tells us how screwed up their priorities are.

But it’s not just Shamrock-Slice. Look at another high profile Elite XC fighter, Gina Carano. Instead of matching her up against “Cyborg” Santos — a fight they were already hyping by the end of Santos’ victory at “Unfinished Business” — they’ve decided to put Carano up against Kelly Kobald, who’s coming off two straight losses. They’re not even bothering to try and come up with a compelling explanation for it, just ask Pro Elite CEO Chuck Champion:

“It’s giving both an opportunity to further develop their fan bases and develop further excitement around the potential of them coming together,” Chuck Champion, CEO of ProElite, which runs the EliteXC brand, told ( “If Chris destroys another opponent, people are really going to be clamoring, especially if Gina gets in and clobbers hers. It’s just really about letting the fighters develop, letting them grow in their skills and their character development in order for them to eventually meet one another.”

In other words, they’d rather string us along with a few squash matches first. The fact that they aren’t even intended to be competitive, that doesn’t seem to bother Elite XC. And that’s what’s really disappointing.

This begs the question, what are we watching for? Is it to see a good fight, or just a good beating? Is it because we want to know who wins, or because we want to know how bad it can get?

The worst of it is that Elite XC is squandering a great opportunity. They think that people will tune in to CBS, see Kimbo beat down Shamrock and Carano demolish Kobald, and then we’ll all be foaming at the mouth to see a pay-per-view where they actually make legitimate fights for a change. But what they’re really doing is intentionally putting an inferior product on live network TV. Someone please tell me, how does that help them build a fan base?

Maybe it wouldn’t be so irritating if they weren’t so glib about it. Elite XC has got to be the only MMA promotion in the world where being a talented fighter can keep you out of the main event. The sole reason Brett Rogers isn’t getting his shot at Kimbo on CBS is because he might win. You can’t even argue that it has to do with his lack of name recognition among casual fans, not after they put Kimbo against James Thompson in their first CBS offering.

It’s not that Shamrock can’t win, either. Any guy who knows his way around a submission the way he does always has a chance. But we all know who Elite XC wants to see come out on top, and that’s not how a fight promotion is supposed to work. Not if it wants to be taken seriously, anyway.

They know what they’re doing with these purposely one-sided fights, and they know that we know. Either they think it’s what we want, or they don’t care. Neither option is very encouraging.

(-Ben Fowlkes)

Cagepotato Comments

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Jmas- August 25, 2008 at 7:14 pm
Elite XC the new WWE
Brandon P- August 25, 2008 at 5:30 pm
This is a total page out of Vince McMahon's Playbook. Build up your main eventers. Give them a few squashes and work their way up the roster. Schilling the PPV, build up the marks, and just like that, you a Wrestlemania PPV Pay-off. And yet you MMA guys look down on Wrestling Fans. Take a look around.
L Grant- August 25, 2008 at 1:46 pm
I don't think the Kimbo vs Shamrock fight is a horrible idea for a CBS show. The average fan knows who Shamrock is, they know he's pretty much washed up, but, even a dickless monkey (registered trade mark of Tom Cruise) could hype a Shamrock vs Slice match.
It's easy to make Shamrock seem like a credible challenge to a casual fan. The UFC just finished making him seem tough to hype his pair of fights with Tito.
So, by having Kimbo hand him his ass, you're elevating Kimbo to the level of Tito Ortiz, who most casual fans see as a credible opponent.

The Carano vs Kobald fight is also another decent pick. Most casual fans can't name 2 female MMA fighters, in fact, most hardcore fans can't name many female fighters.

So, you show some highlights of Kobald, and let her demolished by Gina. You have Cyborg kick someone else's ass, and then you put the two of them in a superfight.

It'd be like having the female equivalent of GSP vs Anderson Silva.

I don't like what EliteXC is doing, but to me, it makes sense. They know their demographic, and it's not the hardcore mma fans. It's the casual fans who love Chuck because of his KOs, and Tito because of his attitude, and Kimbo because of his street fights.

To top it all off, they'll still get the hardcore fans to watch the show because we'll watch anything that even remotely resembles MMA.

It's a win win for them.
douchebaggery- August 25, 2008 at 1:16 pm
FIlmdrunk- oh, you know Kimbo personally?
emptyhandkiller- August 25, 2008 at 12:16 pm
I was actually starting to like Kimbo, even though his opponents were hand picked, and of course the "questionable" stoppages. But now, forget it! Ken Shamrock is completely washed up, he is awful since he quit the 'roids, and I predict another phony stoppage. Remember, Ken became an accomplished actor in the WWE.
kickass- August 25, 2008 at 11:31 am
character development?
FilmDrunk- August 25, 2008 at 11:24 am
I actually like Kimbo as a person and as a fighter, but now I'm rooting for Shamrock, who I've never liked, because I hate Elite XC so much.
Paddy- August 25, 2008 at 7:37 am
I have to disagree on this one. Isnt it the same business model ufc have been using for years with their network tv shows. When we do get a huge name on a fight night, their normally facing sub par opposition to give them a win, Anderson Silva vs James Irvin case in point.

Other than that I cant remember the last network show which was headlined by a top of the line marquee name, they normally go for lower guys who will put on good fights, huerta guida, fisher stout etc. & thats fine too. But its the same strategy. Using slightly inferior product on free tv, to build towards bigger fights on ppv. Because thats where the revenue is. If they did Kimbo Rogers on free tv, & Rogers knocks Kimbo out in the first, whos paying to see Rogers fight a no name on ppv?

Actually Ortiz Shamrock was probably the last really big fight we got free on network tv. That might just prove my point.
jim- August 25, 2008 at 6:20 am
if the ref sees kimbo tap due to submission he'll likely just stand them up. cant see kimbo losing cos if he does they'll just cheat him a win again.

this fights gonna be as big a joke as the last few.
Gogo Richard- August 25, 2008 at 5:05 am
Kimbo is a compelling figure in the sport but he's not ready for a step up to Rogers. What he has is star power and any organization would kill to have someone garner attention like that. He has the potential to blow the doors open to the mainstream and involve hip-hop culture into a sport that has been historically considered "extreme" and the soundtracks were decidedly rock.
Follow the boxing mold and you'll find fighters just like Kimbo: Jack Johnson, Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson... large, brutish men that fascinated and scared the public simultaneously.
Pit him against an aging hero to slaughter and you get drama at its finest. Elite XC knows what they're doing with this fight. Hardcore fans may feel let down by the mismatch, but we'll watch anyway because, well, we're hardcore fans.
Kleege- August 25, 2008 at 4:23 am
Its so stupid that they think that they have to put a known name up to draw in money. I figure put up any name next to "Kimbo Slice" and you get money. Especially if its a name that will destroy Kimbo I rater see that then Kimbo killing an old man.
ADW- August 25, 2008 at 3:54 am
EliteXC knows that Cyborg will DESTROY Gins Carano. It won't even be a fight. Cyborg is a monster. I wouldn't want to fight her that's for sure.
Karmaatemycat- August 25, 2008 at 3:34 am
I hope to god ken gets a 1, 2 combo and stuns the dumb mother fucker and then either knocks him the fuck out or chokes him the fuck out.
Josh Aint Thug- August 25, 2008 at 1:47 am
this hurts my eyes reading this

im not a big kimbo fan, but the guy has tons of potential, but at this rate his career will never take off...i feel sorry for the guy, the only way he will make any advancement in his career is if he leaves elitexc, but at the same time i dont think any major organization will take him
Myles Kilometers- August 25, 2008 at 1:25 am
Is there a cooler name than Chuck Champion? Yes...Myles Kilometers, but only slightly.
izzy- August 25, 2008 at 1:17 am
if kimbo loses so does elite xc no risks.
Acrocerid- August 25, 2008 at 1:11 am
I want to see Lesnar vs. Ferguson. Lesnar wouldn't die against him...Lesnar would destroy him on the ground. I don't even like Lesnar. I don't even like Kimbo....
i kill children- August 25, 2008 at 12:59 am
i am the only person who wants to see a match up of slice vs lesnar? because i believe lesnar would die i could piss on his grave! just kidding... i know ufc and elite can't be friends
MMANewbExpert- August 25, 2008 at 12:51 am
Setting up Kimbo v. Rodgers is a better move, but not because it will make hardcore MMA fans happy.

If Kimbo beat either Shamrock or Rodgers nothing changes from now. They'd just keep moving on with Kimbo as their main guy.

If Shamrock beats Kimbo then Kimbo looks terrible and his popularity. drops, especially if it's by some basic submission hold, which is the way it will happen if Shamrock wins. Shamrock isn't good enough on the ground to do anything fancy (or at least not anymore). Shamrock is too old and crappy to carry EliteXC forward as a main draw, so they would be screwed.

If Rodgers wins (probably by K.O) then you can at least pump him up as the new baddest man on the planet and Kimbo won't drop off too much. The reason for that is that "anyone can get Knocked out" of course but not just "anyone can get submitted in 10 seconds with a basic armbar by an old ass man who can't do anything else"

EliteXC doesn't care about hardcore MMA fans and what they think a good matchup is. Get it through your heads. They. Don't. Care. What. You/I. Want.
joedirt- August 25, 2008 at 12:43 am
Kimbo and Shamrock 69 each other.
cpanger- August 25, 2008 at 12:43 am
WWE, instead of "Entertainment" it stands for "Elite xc"
Will Emero II- August 25, 2008 at 12:08 am
Shamrock'll go down quicker'n a 2 dollar whore at a frat party.

Slice will pad his resume with another victory.

However, I'll be watching, not just to rubberneck, but on the off chance that Shamrock claims a victory.

It's fun watching Slice fight, he's a human cartoon and it's cool being in on the ground floor of a (hopefully) burgeoning career.

Rogers may be a competitive fight, but will draw less interest/viewership among casual-non-and-actual fans than a 'Cage Potato Commenter Strip Off' at the local leather bar. There's a reason all the irate MMA bloggers bitching about these match-ups are blogging MMA on the web and not making matches for a fight organization.

I love the idea of Carano and Cyborg getting a build-up. That face-off should be epic with the right build - provided Carano doesn't pull a Noons - and Cyborg should be built as a credible threat. Her last fight was thrilling, and a few more similar bouts - without the obvious language barrier issues - should make her a monster.

I can't wait for this card. Should be more interesting as a whole than Fight Night 14 or Seek and Destroy.
Bookgrub- August 24, 2008 at 11:33 pm
Kimbo certainly didn't have much (any) ground game against Thompson, and that's Shamrock's strength. But Shamrock has a history of trying to play to the other guy's strengths, and getting thrashed.

He has 8 fights in 6 1/2 years, with only one win - over Kimo, for crying out loud. His last five fights are all losses, and he's spent less than 13 competitive minutes in the cage/ring in the last four years.

That's a record that doesn't speak 'crushing victory' to me, at least.
Apexified- August 24, 2008 at 11:32 pm
If the fight isn't fixed and Shamrock isn't completely brain dead coming in he could easily come out with the win, so long as he doesn't try standing and blocking punches with his head like in his last fight.
B- August 24, 2008 at 11:20 pm
Am I the only one who thinks shamrock is going to destroy kimbo?