By billy hull
Photos: Tom Casino, EliteXC/CBS
What a crazy 24 hours leading up to Saturday night’s EliteXC: Heat card on CBS eh?
After Ken Shamrock was forced to pull out of the main event against Kimbo Slice for cutting himself in a morning workout (at least that’s the reason we’ve been given), a relative unknown Seth Petruzelli came in and needed just 14 seconds to TKO EliteXC’s golden boy in a stunning conclusion to the third installment of EliteXC’s CBS Saturday Night Fights series.
The loss is a devastating one for Slice, showing he’s probably no better than a middle-of-the-road heavyweight fighter. As somebody who believed EliteXC could only succeed on the merits of Slice and female star Gina Carano, who won her bout against Kelly Kobold, a loss like this originally would have made me think the already struggling MMA organization would be done.
But maybe not. While the final numbers aren’t in yet, the ratings seem to be pretty good (and a big increase from the last one), especially considering it was competing with the Jackson/Griffin replay on Spike, college football and the MLB Playoffs. And if you tuned in to the show, you saw some pretty exciting fights on an undercard that wound up being pretty top notch.
Carano’s fight with Kobold was action-packed, even though it went to a decision. Welterweight champion Jake Shields continued to prove he’s one of the best at his division in the world, and a potential champion vs. champion fight against Robbie Lawler could be down the road. Andrei Arlovski gave the fans the highlight knockout they were hoping for, and the opener between Benji Radach and Murilo “Ninja” Rua, which Radach won by TKO in the second round, was also exciting.
Now sure, I think it’s pretty evident Kimbo Slice isn’t close to being a top-10 heayweight fighter, but people will still watch when he fights. A fight with Cristiane Cyborg Santos and Carano on the horizon will be huge, and EliteXC has already announced Eddie Alvarez vs. Nick Diaz and Joey Villasenor vs. Robbie Lawler for the next event, which are great fights.
Maybe EliteXC has more than some, including myself, think. Of course, the ultimate question will be if it can draw ratings without Slice as a headliner, because he won’t be main eventing cards after that performance on Saturday. Nevertheless, the company got great performances out of its undercard, and if the people in charge at EliteXC are smart enough to be creative with what they have (maybe even co-promote some more shows with StrikeForce or work together with DREAM to bring some of their Japanese fighters to the states), than even with the Slice defeat, the company might still have hope for the future.