EliteXC: Renegade Recap
On a night when EliteXC's main card held a lot of promise with a number of intriguing matchups, only one out of the five main-card fights went beyond the first round. Two fights ended by doctor stoppage. The lone title fight left fans with an empty feeling inside. And we still don't know anything more about Kimbo Slice's MMA skills.
Kimbo fights a can
Look at the first three letters of Bo Cantrell's last name and you have the entire story for his fight against Slice. The fight ended after 19 seconds as Cantrell tapped out in anticipation of the onslaught he was about to receive after Slice caught him with a punch and an elbow to the face that floored him. One thing I've noticed in Slice's training video is that he really does work on his elbows and tonight he used his lone elbow standing up fairly effectively.
Apparently, Cantrell was affected by Slice's reputation as well as possibly his own reputation coming into the fight (his loss to Slice marked his fifth straight first round loss in a row). Said Cantrell: "I am not sure what happened but just before the fight -- I started feeling weird. I just wasn’t myself in there. I felt a shell of myself."
Undoubtedly, Slice needs tougher opponents. As Slice trainer Bas Rutten said after the fight, "I am happy for Kimbo, but he needs an opponent that is going to push him a little. I think he can handle it, but I want to see how he does when he has to face some adversity and go a full round or two."
From a marketing standpoint, fans at the arena gave Slice by far the largest ovation of any fighter on the card, so he at least appears to be paying dividends on that end.
Noons gashes Diaz for 160-lb. title
EliteXC kept calling this fight a lightweight title fight, but 155 lbs. is universally acknowledged as the upper limit of the lightweight division (we can get into how I feel about Gary Shaw's inclusion of all these new weight classes on another occasion -- right now, I'm just not a huge fan because this reminds me of the confusion seen in boxing.)
Regardless, I've been impressed with Noons in his last two fights. He is a very strong striker and clearly tagged Diaz a number of times standing up. Noons has also shown good sprawl and the ability to escape on the ground in his last couple of fights. I thought Diaz would be able to control the fight on the ground, but Noons simply would not let him.
As a fight fan, I was sad to see the doctor stop the fight after the first round because Diaz was clearly game for at least another round. His tantrum afterwards was understandable. As a responsible citizen, however, I understand the stoppage. Diaz's face was brutalized by Noons in the first round. He had a cut on his left eyelid, one on his nose, and possibly one near his right eye. I just prefer to err a little more on the side of letting two guys duke it out when a title is on the line, especially if both are able and willing.
To a certain degree, this result may have been a karmic correction for Diaz's decision victory over Mike Aina in his last fight -- a fight in which Aina also scored significantly with punches.
Silva a new force in the heavyweight landscape?
Antonio Silva dropped down to 265 lbs. for his fight last night and he looked impressive. He showed nice strikes standing up and worked the ground game to record his first victory by submission (rear-naked choke). Silva is fast becoming one of my favorite heavyweights in a division that needs more marketable talent. Along with Slice, EliteXC has a nice one-two punch that doesn't approach the depth of UFC's heavyweight division, but isn't bad as far as putting fans in the seat.
Now, EliteXC needs to work on attracting some of the top non-UFC heavyweights out there like Ben Rothwell and Josh Barnett and also hope for a co-promotion with M-1 to put Fedor in the mix. If all that happens, that's a strong heavyweight lineup for a promotion that seemingly had no heavyweight division just a month ago.
Kyle Noke, welcome to America, mate
Australian middleweight Noke made his American MMA debut in fine fashion, winning due to doctor's stoppage after opening up a large gash on Seth Kleinbeck's head. This was definitely a good stoppage and resulted from a vicious elbow strike by Noke.
Noke looks to have a fine all-around MMA game, which he put on display against Kleinbeck. Along with EliteXC's lightweight division, I also like the promotion's middleweight division. We've seen Frank Shamrock, Murilo Rua, and champ Robbie Lawler on their cards. Noke is a nice addition and makes EliteXC's middleweight division deeper and more intriguing than UFC's (even if it isn't as top-heavy).
Shields continues to run through the welterweight division
Jake Shields has to be one of the top welterweights in the world, especially on the ground. Last night, against a disgruntled Mike Pyle, Shields did what he has shown he can do -- he dominated the fight by using the cage effectively and mounting his opponent with ease. Shields ended the fight with a deep rear-naked choke. Who else can EliteXC bring in to challenge Shields? I would love to see him fight UFC's top welterweights, but Shields re-signed with the promotion (according to a press release) so we may have to wait on those matchups.
The streak continues
After last night's predictions, my picks record is now up to 9-2 over the last month. Captain America, here I come.