(Kimbo and “Crush”: And then what? Slice photo courtesy of Esther Lin.)
CBS recently announced that they’ve set July 26th as the date for the second installment of EliteXC’s Saturday Night Fights. Coming less than two months after SNF‘s debut broadcast on May 31st, the scheduling feels premature for a couple of reasons:
1) What if, God forbid, the first show is a ratings disaster? I don’t know if CBS has the power to immediately end their agreement with EliteXC if that happened, but they’d certainly be wise to postpone the next event for a couple more months, reassess what went wrong, and spend more time publicizing their new product.
2) When you stack a card with your two biggest stars (Kimbo Slice, Gina Carano), and fill it out with a few more of your most popular fighters (Robbie Lawler, Phil Baroni, Scott Smith, James Thompson), who’s left to fight eight weeks later? Even if Kimbo and Gina are physically capable of competing again so soon, would casual viewers be interested in seeing another event with the same headliners? Could exciting new opponents be found for them in such a short time-frame? Who’s going to carry card #2?
If you answered Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, KJ Noons, and Yves Edwards — well, you’re wrong. It turns out that all four of those mid-level stars have been booked for EliteXC’s June 14th show in Honolulu. Diaz will face Muhsin Corbbrey, Shields will take on Drew Fickett in EliteXC’s first welterweight title fight, and Noons and Edwards will meet in a lightweight championship bout. Sounds like a killer card, right? It seems like Pro Elite’s best move would be to cancel the Hawaii show and move all the fights to July 26th. Sure, Diaz might be a risk with his medical marijuana routine, and Noons is reportedly staying off the CBS cards due to mismanagement, but it’s hard to think of many other names that EliteXC has in its roster, other than the aforementioned, that could carry a big show, especially when it’s all but guaranteed that no title fights will be included on the July 26th card. Unless, of course, they set up Kimbo to face someone like Antonio Silva for an ill-advised heavyweight championship match. Was Gary Shaw even thinking this far into the future?
Semi-related: Murilo “Ninja” Rua has been dropped from the May 31st CBS card for undisclosed reasons. His opponent, Phil Baroni, will now be facing Joey Villasenor, who knocked out Ryan Jensen three weeks ago at “Shamrock vs. Le.” The rest of the main card is still as-is.