Thursday, 8 May 2008

EliteXC Street Certified on Sky Sports - TV Review

Finally, I’m going to find out what all the fuss is about as EliteXC makes their debut on Sky Sports here in Britain with their February show Street Certified, with UFC legend Tank Abbott facing the internet sensation Kimbo Slice. Our hosts for the evening are Mauro Ranallo, Steven Quadros and Bill Goldberg.
So with the introductions out of the way, the broadcast begins with Britain’s James Thompson against Brett Rogers in the heavyweight division. A quick fight to begin things with saw Thompson rush Rogers as soon as the bell sounded, taking him down seconds later. However, Rogers soon asserted control, and Thompson’s suspect chin soon came into play as Rogers connected with a combination that hit the button and sent the Brit crash down to the mat, with the referee stepping in immediately to stop the fight. Although I’m disappointed that my countryman lost, credit must go to Rogers for his performance here.
Then it’s down to the lightweight division with Yves Edwards facing Edson Berto. While the first fight showcased great punching power, this one was an advertisement for the technical side of things. The fight went to the ground early, and Berto almost got the submission with a guillotine choke, but Edwards was able to escape the hold, and showed a great transition as he tried to apply the kimura. Plenty of work on the ground followed, but even though both fighters were working, the referee stood them up. This proved to be Berto’s downfall. In the final exchange Berto had hold of Edwards’ leg. But with his free leg, Edwards connected with a knee to Berto’s head that knocked him down and out just seconds before the first round ended, earning him the knockout victory. A very good contest here, with good showings from both men. A shame about the referee though, who obviously couldn’t see that both fighters were in fact fighting on the ground before he stood them up for inactivity.
Up to the middleweight division next with Scott Smith and Kyle Noke. The first fight to go past one round, the first round was fought entirely on their feet, and Smith seemed to be in a feeling out frame of mind throughout the first five minutes, with the Australia Noke getting in a few good shots, so although the first round was a tad boring, the second was the total opposite, and lasted just seven seconds. One right hand into the round from Smith connected to Noke’s chin, who was unconscious before he hit the canvas, giving Smith the knockout victory as he lived up to his “hands of steel” nickname.
Heavyweight action follows, with Antonio Silva facing former UFC champion Ricco Rodriguez. The first round was really a round of two halves. Silva looked great when they were standing up, especially with his jabs and when he countered a high knee attempt with a left hand, but when Ricco took Silva down, he looked better, working especially well.
The second round was all Silva, as he controlled the upright and on the ground, with Ricco seemingly powerless to do anything against his attacks, and things could have gotten worse for him when he complained about a lack of vision out of his left eye after he sustained a cut on his eyelid. When the fight resumed for the final few seconds Silva reasserted the control he previously had.
The third round began as the second round had ended, with Silva in control in the stand-up and on the ground, although the lack of activity forced the referee to stand them up again. It was then that Ricco, visibly tiring, was able to take Silva down, although in truth he did very little as he managed to stay in Silva’s guard for the remainder of the fight. So with the fight going the distance, it was no surprise that the decision went Silva’s way, a decision he deserved for a good performance.
Main event time in the heavyweight division, with Kimbo Slice facing Tank Abbott. Given the reputations of these two, it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be a technical masterpiece. This one was a brawl, pure and simple. Abbott got off a few good shots, but Slice knocked him down early, and earned himself an early warning after connecting with three shots to the bank of Abbott’s head. From there, Slice knocked Abbott down twice more, before a right to the jaw sent the Tank crashing to the canvas face down, with the referee calling an immediate end to the fight, giving Slice the knockout victory. This was certainly an explosive fight, and certainly not as bad as I’d heard, but Slice is clearly still something of a diamond in the rough, and it will be interesting to see how he fares against some of the top names in the MMA world, and not against the on-their-way-down fighters like Abbott.
In conclusion - this was the first time I’d seen an EliteXC card, and I liked it. Okay, the Brit didn’t win, but each fight shown was good in it’s own way. The production values were excellent, and how can you fail commentary-wise when you’ve got Ranallo and Quadros on board? And let’s not forget Goldberg’s contribution, who, despite a couple of errors, came across as knowledgeable about the sport.
So in the end, it’s good to see Sky Sports taking the plunge, adding EliteXC to their Cage Rage shows. Let’s hope this isn’t a one-off though, and that we’ll be seeing a lot more from this particular company on British television screens soon.