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Stick-and-ball US sportswriters are throwing a fit about EXC on CBS

By Zach Arnold | May 29, 2008

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What a weekend this is going to be for MMA action, with the Elite XC special Saturday night on CBS and then Jens Pulver vs. Urijah Faber in front of 10,000+ fans at Arco Arena in Sacramento on Sunday night (TV: Versus Network). Expect a ton of broadsheet media coverage.

Some of it will be negative. Greg Cote, who is a famous sports writer (think: NFL) for The Miami Herald, is not thrilled about Kimbo Slice fighting. Of all the time frames to take a year-long vacation, fellow Miami Herald writer Dan Le Batard may have chose the wrong time for a break.

  1. Dan Wetzel (Yahoo): Kimbo Slice is not the face of MMA (not exactly a friendly article for EXC)
  2. USA Today: UFC has fight on its hands against Elite XC
  3. The Newark Star-Ledger: Saturday night lights at the fights
  4. The Philadelphia Daily News: MMA is blooming in the Philly area
  5. MMA Predictions: Phil Baroni, Joey Villasenor exchange words prior to May 31st fight
  6. Jared Barnes: EXC 5/31 event preview
  7. MMA HQ: Elite XC – CBS Saturday Night Fights preview
  8. USA Today: Dana White Q & A (this is quite the interview — White claims WEC is 10 times better than PRIDE)
  9. Mainichi Daily News: Shaolin Temple Grand Master arrested for tax evasion
  10. MMA Junkie: Urijah Faber wants to avenge loss to Tyson Griffin
  11. MMA Madness: Sit-down interviews with Anderson Silva & The Nogueira Brothers

Topics: Media, MMA, PRIDE, Pro Elite, UFC, WEC, Zach Arnold | 34 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

34 Responses to “Stick-and-ball US sportswriters are throwing a fit about EXC on CBS”

  1. Ultimo Santa says:

    “The WEC has actually turned out to be 10 times the product Pride ever was.”

    Dana White has made some bold claims, and even comments that border on the insane. But this gem is perhaps his craziest yet (and that’s saying a LOT). 10 TIMES better? Well, whatever butters your popcorn, I suppose.

    “Fedor beat my champ back in 2005. Fedor hasn’t fought anybody since 2005. This whole urban legend thing has happened with Fedor with some of the hardcore fans.”

    Fedor being the best in the world is now an ‘urban legend’? Yeah, it’s not like there is any evidence to back up that ridiculous notion – just a myth that was created online by a couple of wacky hardcore fans. It’s right up there with the Richard Gere/gerbil story in terms of plausibility.

    “For these guys to come out of the gate, this Affliction guy — this guy sells T-shirts for a living, okay? Ok, seriously, think about that, guys.”

    Is this any sillier than two guys in the casino business hiring a foul-mouthed personal trainer with no education to run a multi-million dollar MMA company?

    “I can guarantee you this: We’ve done everything we said we would do. Everything.”

    Like have the Superbowl of MMA with PRIDE vs. UFC? And keep PRIDE running as a separate company in Japan?

    “Think of all the greatest television shows in the history of television, how many of them have gone eight seasons?”

    The Simpsons and Seinfeld are generally accepted as two of the greatest TV shows ever – both ran more than eight seasons. ER, Law & Order, The Practice, and X-Files all did it as well.

    As for reality shows? The Price is Right is still going after 3 decades. The Bachelor, America’s Next Top Model and Survivor have had more than eight seasons (showing even crappy shows can get picked up season after season).

    Not that I’m claiming TUF is a bad show – I enjoy it – but bragging about a show being on for X-number of seasons proves nothing. It just means that the budget is small, and they’re pulling in enough ad revenue and maintaining a small, loyal contingent of viewers that keep the show afloat (not hard to accomplish in today’s reality TV landscape, apparently).

    “Q:Who’s on the horizon in your heavyweight division besides those two? A: Brandon Vera.”

    Brandon Vera is the future of the Heavyweight division? That’s who’s replacing Couture, Sylvia, CroCop and Arlovski?

    “There are, honestly, no guys outside of the UFC that I’m interested in right now.”

    Wow. He just topped the fist comment.

    I can’t believe that he’s actually running Mir/Nog, and the inevitable follow-up fight of Vera/Nog. I swear we’re thisclose to seeing the ‘Hillbilly Heartthrob’ Brad Imes vs. Nogueira for the World Title.

    He’s out of his goddamned mind at times. But I gotta hand it to Dana: he’s entertaining as hell to listen to.

  2. Shane says:

    Dana is a PROMOTER first – everything else second. Everything he says is supposed to hype up his company and make the others look bad by comparison. That’s his job. A promoter is not who you go to for an honest opinion about their business.

  3. Grape Knee High says:

    “Oh yeah, you got me going off on a tirade there. I forgot what you even asked me.”

    Dana never fails to crack me up, even through his fanboy exterior.

  4. jj says:

    dana is so full of shit.

    fedor hasn’t beaten anyone since 2005??

    well lets see, he whooped mark coleman (twice), someone the ufc is desperately trying to capitalize on.

    he also fought (and defeated) olympic wrestler matt lindland, and former k1 gp winners mark hunt and hong man choi. all dangerous opponents that shouldn’t be discredited.

    not to mention his prior noteworthy wins over just about every dangerous heavy weight in mma, from current ufc champ nogueira, cro-cop, kevin randleman, fujita, herring, TK, babalu, semmy schilt.

    besides tim sylvia which is coming up soon and the possible barnette/fedor fight that should likely immerge afterwords, couture is pretty much the last top tier guy for fedor to fight and its dana’s own dumb ass fault for souring that deal with his ‘sign over your life’ one sided contracts.

  5. Mo Dogg says:

    there was another terrible article in the Philly Daily news:

    it was just terrible and very uneducated

  6. Ivan Trembow says:

    More relevant than the latest embarrassing, insert-foot-in-mouth Dana White interview is that Dan Wetzel column, which reads like a column written by someone who only follows MMA a little bit once every few months.

    Yes, Kimbo Slice is being given opponents that his promoters perceive to be tomato cans, but Wetzel mistakenly says that the opposite is true in Brock Lesnar’s case. He states that Mir was a tough pairing for Lesnar’s first UFC fight, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the inside perception of Mir before the Lesnar fight (and even now) is that he may be a shot fighter (not “Ken Shamrock in 2006” washed-up, but perhaps “Ken Shamrock in 2002” washed-up).

    Then Wetzel states that they matched Lesnar up with Heath Herring in his second fight as further evidence that they want to match Lesnar tough… which they only did after his original opponent, Mark Coleman, was injured in training, and Coleman is “Ken Shamrock in 2008” washed-up.

    All of that said, I agree that Kimbo Slice shouldn’t be in the main event, I just don’t think that it’s neccessary to make inaccurate statements about Brock Lesnar to get that point across.

  7. Ultimo Santa says:

    re: Kimbo Slice in the main event – there are two undeniable facts. It’s just a matter of which one you’re willing to support/accept.

    As a MMA performer, no, he obviously hasn’t established himself against enough top competition to earn that right as the main attraction.

    But from a marketing perspective, it’s equally obvious that his name will put asses in seats and viewers in front of the TV – at least moreso than anyone else on the card.

    So is Kimbo Slice in the main event “fair”? From a ranking perspective, no. But who said life was fair?

  8. IceMuncher says:

    I disagree with that Ivan, Mir was a very tough opponent for Lesnar to debut against. His submission background was a major threat to Lesnar and that fight could go either way as a result.

    I don’t know where your “inside perception” comes from, but large amount of MMA fans on the various MMA forums were confident that Mir was going to win that fight. It was split pretty evenly all things considered.

    If I recall correctly, the sportbooks had Lesnar at about -180 and Mir at +160, which is closer to even odds than 80% of fights ever come. Last week, Machida and Penn were bigger favorites, and Wanderlei was about the same. Those were very competitive matchups imo, but bookmakers thought that they were less competitive than Mir/Lesnar. Kimbo, for comparison, is currently -440 against Thompson.

    I agree with your statements about Coleman, but that’s all a moot point now. Lesnar will be fighting Herring, and at the end of the day that’s all that will matter. The cold, hard fact is that Lesnar will have fought 2 very credible, legitimate opponents in his first 2 UFC fights, despite your attempts to spin that to the contrary.

  9. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    I thought that Mir vs Lesnar was an interesting matchup, and the fight honestly didn’t disappoint me either. Lesnar did a lot of damage with his hands and Mir proved that he’s still got that ol’ jujitsu magik.

    In business terms, the WEC has been a much better purchase for Zuffa than Pride. For instance, after Zuffa bought them, they continued to have shows. They have one of the more recognizable and flashy American fighters heading up one of their exclusive weight classes, and they’re heavily promoted on a network that’s actually on the rise now that it’s getting some cable penetration.

    Maybe you missed the two belt unification fights that occurred. Maybe you missed Zuffa actually putting forth what in retrospect seems like a reasonable effort to sign Fedor, one of the two other Pride beltholders.

    I’d like to think that they’ve also made overtures to Gomi, because they HAVE to want to put him up against BJ Penn or GSP. There’s no evidence that there have been serious talks that Gomi actually responded positively to, though, and obviously he finally booked a fight with another promotion, so maybe he’s out of their waters now.

    Lindland gave up 50 pounds in that fight, and you can’t convince me that it was a legitimate 50/50 or even close. Lindland is not a contender in the heavyweight division, brilliant fighter though he may be. Champs have to fight contenders, that’s what they’re there for.

    I also think that final line on the Lesnar fight was pretty heavily weighted due to betting by wrestling people who perhaps had no idea what they were doing. Ultimately the odds are designed to attract balancing bets, not to reflect the actual probability of a win. But, again, I thought it was a good matchup.

    Beyond that, I don’t think anyone seriously expects Dana to talk about the guy that he wants that he hasn’t already signed yet. It just provides an in for EliteXC or whoever to step in and try to nab them first. That’s not good business.

  10. spacedog says:

    50 lbs? WTF, try 10, tops.

  11. D. Capitated says:

    I’d like to think that they’ve also made overtures to Gomi,

    Those overtures were about as serious as offering Couture a fight with Noguiera. I don’t think they really care and they’re certainly not willing to spend the money someone in Japan would for his services, or for that matter, guys like JZ Calvan, Aoki, etc.

    [quote]Lindland gave up 50 pounds in that fight[/quote]

    Lindland weighed in around 215, I believe. If you want to argue that he’s really a 185lb fighter, remember that he had recently fought Rampage Jackson and damn near beat the guy at 205.

  12. IceMuncher says:

    I’d say it’s about 20-30 lbs.

    I’m not sure if Fedor could make LHW, but it’d be very close even if he could. Lindland fights at 185.

    That’s a huge weight discrepancy, especially when a guy that isn’t even the best in the 185 division is taking on the #1 ranked heavyweight in the world. Any decent heavyweight is supposed to beat Lindland. That fight does nothing for Fedor.

  13. Todd Martin says:

    The difference between Bo Cantrell and Tank Abbott as opening opponents versus Frank Mir and Heath Herring (or Mark Coleman) is stark. It’s absolutely valid to portray UFC’s approach to Brock Lesnar as markedly different than EXC’s approach to Kimbo Slice.

  14. doem says:

    very different, but its a valid argument that as far a professionalism goes, A 1-0 Brock had no business fighting a Mir or a Herring in the UFC (regardless if he had a college wrestling champ. 8 years ago). Professionally speaking, having Kimbo fight a Bo-Cantrell and Thompson makes more sense. Brock lesnar is a spectacle just as kimbo is. Lets not try to split hairs to much on this matter.

  15. ttt says:

    fedor’s a relatively small heavyweight. against lindland, was up 18 pounds, but 18 pounds difference is not a lot in the heavyweight division.

  16. Ultimo Santa says:


    Excellent link, and good point. 18 pounds should not make/break a fight.

    It’s just a fact that in MMA today (like every sport) fighters want the absolute maximum advantage – and if you can fight at 185 or 205, why risk losing at heavyweight, right?

    There are a LOT of guys who could/should be fighting at heavyweight, but maybe they’re afraid they’d lose?

  17. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    I’m not sure how you can conclude that someone SHOULD be fighting in a heavier weight class if they are perfectly capable of cutting to a lower class and have a better record there.

    Should Jens Pulver be competing at lightweight? He has, and he was successful at it as well, but he says he’s more comfortable fighting in a lower class, which is his “natural” weight class.

    Just because someone was able to not adhere to a stricter diet (while presumably still working out in the gym etc) because they were fighting up weight classes doesn’t mean that they are or should be naturally fighting in that class.

    I’m 225 now. When I’m paying attention and “behaving” myself without doing a whole lot of working out, I’m about 195. If I were a fighter, I’d expect to fight at 185. That doesn’t make me a heavyweight.

  18. The Gaijin says:

    You could probably fight at 170 if you really pushed yourself.

  19. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    True enough. Just think, if I quit my job and trained full time for five years, I too might be able to get a spot on TUF, and face off against GSP two years after that.

    At which point I’d be 35, and ready to retire.

  20. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    37. I can’t even count, so I’d have a hell of a time coming up with an answer to GSP.

  21. Leslie says:

    Kimbo Slice is not fighting cans. He can’t fight cans, because he’s completely unproven as a fighter. He’s just fighting people at his level (and with more experience).

    He’s main eventing because he’s putting asses in seats, but his critics confuse that for him being a proven, talented fighter who deserves top competition. He hasn’t earned that yet, and EXC would be stupid to try and put that together. I don’t want to see Kimbo fight Fedor or Couture or even Sylvia in his 4th fight. I certainly don’t won’t to see those guys have their time wasted with such a fight either.

    Let Kimbo be Kimbo then, once he’s proven himself, maybe he’ll have earned the right to step into the ring with top guys. He’s so far from that though.

  22. cyph says:

    If Kimbo himself is a can, is it possible for a can to be fighting a can?

    I’ll watch EliteXC. But after UFC 84, I can’t help but think this is Bush-league (the capitalization is intentional)MMA.

  23. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Sure they can.

    Traditionally, a guy with as few fights as Kimbo would either be fighting in KOTC or maybe in a dark fight on a UFN card.

    But then, the same is true of Lesnar. Some guys have a fanbase that almost requires you to put them up front to capitalize on those fans, even if proper matchmaking would say that they should be fighting lower level fighters.

    The difference is that EliteXC is giving lower level fighters to Kimbo while pushing him to the front of the stage, which in some people’s mind waters down their brand because you have headline fights between also-rans and a guy whose popularity exceeds his professional experience. UFC didn’t do it with Lesnar, and you’ve got other people who are going to complain that UFC isn’t bringing him along the way they should.

    The bigger issue is that, based on their fights, both Lesnar and Kimbo seem to have abilities that also exceed their professional experience level. Lesnar did a good job against Mir, more than holding his own, and nearly taking the fight before falling into a classic trap (which he might have avoided with more experience, but this is Mir, so he might not have). Kimbo seems to be capable of fighting tougher opponents than he has to date. I’m not sure that EliteXC really has those tougher opponents to hand to him though.

    Who, inside of EliteXC, are you going to put him up against that would be an appropriate challenge given his abilities, putting aside his experience? Ron Waterman? Is he even still a credible opponent?

  24. Leslie says:

    I’ve enjoyed every EXC show I’ve seen. I can’t say near the same about Zuffa’s UFC. They’re much better at presentation than UFC is as well, so it’s not going to come off as low rent in any way. The round ring looks much better on TV than the octagon for sure.

  25. IceMuncher says:

    Some of us want MMA to be a sport that’s taken seriously, not a spectacle to gawk at. I think that when you build something up with sensationalism, like EXC is doing with Kimbo, rather than with substance, you turn the sport into a fad. Yeah, you’ll get interest, but it’s not sustainable. As soon as Kimbo is yesterday’s news, all these people that tuned into EXC just to see the hyped street-fighter Kimbo Slice will lose interest.

    And the fact is, most people don’t realize that Kimbo Slice is an unproven fighter that can’t hang with decent top 10 opponents. It’s bad enough having to listen to an ESPN sports anchor like Michael Wilbon from PTI say that he doesn’t care about MMA unless it’s a fight between Kimbo Slice and Rampage. Imagine if that kind of ignorance becomes widespread. It’d be a disaster for the sport in my opinion.

    Kimbo headlining the first MMA show on a major network television channel sets the sport back in my opinion. I’m tuning in for the Lawler/Smith fight and the Carano/Young fight, then I’m turning it off.

  26. Zack says:

    “Some of us want MMA to be a sport that’s taken seriously, not a spectacle to gawk at. I think that when you build something up with sensationalism, like EXC is doing with Kimbo, rather than with substance, you turn the sport into a fad.”

    …and UFC marketed Brock Lesnar using WWE clips. They didn’t bother tracking down his amateur wrestling footage. Who cares dude?

    At the end of the day, it’s about entertainment, and getting people to tune in. Do you think the UFC cares about the best fighting the best more than putting on entertaining shows and putting asses in seats? Even 45 Huddle isn’t that naive.

  27. Some Guy says:

    I hear what you’re saying, Jeremy (not that Jeremy), but I’m just saying this: guys like CroCop, Fedor, etc. COULD, technically, cut down to 205. But they can compete and win at heavyweight.

    On the other hand, very large light-heavyweights like Jardine, Rampage, Lidell, etc. aren’t that much small than CroCop and Fedor, but I don’t see them jumping to heavyweight and trying to prove themselves, even though in the UFC the division is literally empty.

    Just sayin’…

  28. Ultimo Santa says:

    I hear what you’re saying, Jeremy (not that Jeremy), but I’m just saying this: guys like CroCop, Fedor, etc. COULD, technically, cut down to 205. But they can compete and win at heavyweight.

    On the other hand, very large light-heavyweights like Jardine, Rampage, Lidell, etc. aren’t that much small than CroCop and Fedor, but I don’t see them jumping to heavyweight and trying to prove themselves, even though in the UFC the division is literally empty.

    Just sayin’…

  29. spacedog says:

    Actually I think guys like Forrest, Tito, Jardine, and Lidell are just as big as Fedor and Cro Cop. If I’m notmistaken fedor is six ft, or just over, and about 220, which would make him SMALLER than the above mention LHW.I know Cro Cop has weighed in under 220 and he’s no taller than those guys.

  30. IceMuncher says:

    “Do you think the UFC cares about the best fighting the best more than putting on entertaining shows and putting asses in seats?”

    This is a trick question, since the UFC puts asses in seats by fighting the best against the best. I honestly don’t know how to answer that.

    After, if all they cared about was entertainment, it stands to reason they would make a lot of entertaining mismatches, rather than “best vs best” fights with champions taking on “boring” challengers like Sylvia and Sherk.

    Look for yourself. Go ahead, take a look at all the fights they put together in 2008 alone. Take a look at how many freakshow “entertainment” fights there were, and how many were great match-ups.

    And how do you explain all the “boring” fighters that still get big fights in the UFC? You know, guys like Machida, Kos, Sherk, Sylvia. How do you explain the lack of Zulus and Kimbos fighting in the main event?

    Hmmm… turns out Lesnar is the exception, and not the rule when it comes to how the UFC does business. Even then, they gave him a legitimate opponent to sink or swim against. Seriously, think about it. That’s absolutely retarded if they only cared about putting asses in seats, which many posters on this website pointed out. However, it makes sense if you put it in the perspective of an org that’s trying to take the sport seriously.

    How much evidence do you want? I can literally go on for pages.

    The UFC realized that great fights with legitimate challengers will keep the sport afloat and the fan interested. That’s why they’ve been giving us big fights with legitimate fighters every chance they get. That’s why Fitch is fighting GSP next. It’s the same principle that all of the major sports live by (aside from boxing, which the UFC overtook), and it’s working. A Brazilian middleweight that can’t speak English sells hundreds of thousands of PPV shows. It’s not because of youtube streetfighting clips or an intimidating beard, it’s because he destroys all the top fighters in his division and the fans know it and love it. Great fighters are a renewable resource, fad superstars are not.

  31. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Forrest is a good example, yeah. IIRC he walks around at about 235. Big guy.

    Couture is another good example.

  32. Tomer Chen says:

    Kimbo Slice is not fighting cans. He can’t fight cans, because he’s completely unproven as a fighter. He’s just fighting people at his level (and with more experience).

    A can is a level of quality of an opponent in terms of resistance, skill, quality of wins, etc. not a comparative fight title (IE: only cans can fight cans). For example, one would not consider Reggie Strickland above a ‘higher end’ can even though he has over 300 fights to his name in Boxing.

    Another example is Nick Casal, who faced Timothy Crane (who was 4-13 when they fought while Casal was 1-0). While Casal spotted 16 fights, he blitzed Crane who was little more than a punching bag. Just because Crane had 16 more fights didn’t mean crap if he didn’t have the skills, desire, quality of wins, etc. to back himself as being a ‘quality’ fighter (and he basically quit from the get go, going down 3 fights to what were pretty much pushes).

  33. jbm1983 says:

    One reason I want the EXC show to succeed ratings-wise is just to piss off all these MMA “purists” and their arrogant attitudes towards the “purity” and the self-righteous “sanctity” for the sport they cherish to the heart.

    But the main reasons I want it to succeed is for the industry as a whole.

    Just being honest from a personal standpoint.

  34. The Gaijin says:


    If the UFC truly did only care about legitimate competition and not selling tickets why is Forrest Griffin fighting for the title when he lost to Keith Jardine, meanwhile Jardine was forced to fight Alexander, Liddell and Silva until he lost enough in order to justify not giving him a shot. Same with Machida or the fact that Fitch was forced to fight a gajillion fights before he FINALLY got a shot at the belt.

    Meanwhile guys like Roger Huerta, Franklin and Liddell are given any and all opportunities to get title shots (repeat opps in some cases) b/c they are more marketable and “in” with UFC brass.

    Don’t act like their completely above the same things you’re railing against.


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