Elite XC’s Jared Shaw takes a little shot at yours truly in this MMA Rated interview, calling me Ben “UFC” Fowlkes, which I suppose is an implication that I’m pro-UFC and anti-Elite XC, although I like to think that my record as an equal opportunity critic speaks for itself. If an organization does dumb things, it’s my job to point it out. If one organization does more dumb things than others, they’re going to receive more criticism. That’s just how it works. If it makes me a hater, I can live with that. But since when do we all have to like everything?
$kala says he just wants some love for his fighters, not himself. Fair enough, Jared. You do have some good fighters in your organization. Guys like Jake Shields, Robbie Lawler, Wilson Reis, Nick Diaz, and “Ninja” Rua, just to name a few. These are all fighters that I enjoy watching. But your fighters aren’t what you’ve been criticized for, and I think you know it.
Let’s take the event you’ve got this Saturday, for example. On the undercard you’ve got a few interesting scraps between guys like Paul Daley and Jake Shields, Benji Radach and “Ninja” Rua, and a sweet little co-promotional joint between Affliction fighters Andrei Arlovski and Roy Nelson (nice work scoring that, by the way, whether you had anything to do with it or not).
But your main event features a 3-0 fighter in Kimbo Slice, who has yet to face an opponent coming off a win, taking on a forty-four-year-old legend of the sport who hasn’t won a fight or even made it out of the first round in over four years. And that’s your main event.
Your other star, the lovely and talented Gina Carano, is taking on an opponent who is 0-2 in her last two fights, while her real competition — “Cyborg” Santos — fights someone else on the same card.
This isn’t meant as a knock on your fighters at all, Jared. Kimbo and Gina both seem like good people, and you’re making them wealthy people. Good for them. I don’t hate on anyone for getting their bread. What I take issue with is your organization’s approach to matchmaking.
You want something that will grab ratings, but you’re afraid that if Kimbo Slice or Gina Carano fight tough opponents, like Brett Rogers and “Cyborg” Santos, respectively, they might lose. And they might. But that’s how the fight game works, or at least how it’s supposed to. That’s what makes fights interesting. You approach it as if a loss for either of them derails your gravy train. I don’t necessarily agree (this is MMA, not boxing, and a loss isn’t the end of the world for a fighter), though I can understand why you might see it this way. But the fact is you are setting up fights because you think they are winnable for your stars, not because you think they’ll make for exciting fights.
That’s your prerogative as an organization. You can make whatever matches you think you can sell. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to applaud you for it. That’s our prerogative.