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Round two of reaction to EXC & Kimbo on CBS

By Zach Arnold | June 1, 2008

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If there is one other trend (besides relatively neutral or positive broadsheet media coverage of the EXC show on CBS) to watch for here regarding reaction to last night’s show, it’s that a lot of sports blogs and media outlets that normally would never talk about a UFC event are certainly talking today about MMA. Intriguingly enough, it seems that more casual fans or first-time viewers came away with a somewhat positive take on the show, whereas the more seasoned fight writers and fans are coming away from the event angry.

The one point that I will make about last night’s show that will anger a lot of people… I’m not going to defend the EXC show last night necessarily in terms of good technical fighting or production values or for questionable outcomes. What I will say, however, is that in order for the MMA business to grow, you’re going to have to appeal to a larger audience. Larger sports audiences, whether it is Japan or America, want to be entertained. They aren’t necessarily interested in having a heavy emotional attachment to the business like those of us who cover it full-time do. As one person inside the Japanese MMA business told me during PRIDE’s run on Fuji TV and K-1’s run on TBS, Grandma Tanaka isn’t watching MMA because it’s a good technical sport. She’s watching because there’s a lot of cute guys and because some younger family members are also watching to be entertained and have a good time.

  1. Deadspin: Stop the fight! Stop the fight! The legend of Kimbo Slice takes 38 consecutive blows to the head
  2. Luke Thomas: Elite XC has a major problem re: Kimbo Slice
  3. The Sweet Science: Kimbo Slice fights way out of losing
  4. AOL Fanhouse: Gus Johnson solidifies reputation by questioning stoppage of Kimbo Slice fight
  5. On Milwaukee: Gus Johnson calling action for Elite XC is like Matt Vasgersian calling action for the XFL
  6. The Big Lead: Dana White just called to give me an expletive-filled tirade about what a joke Elite XC is
  7. Awful Announcing: MMA’s network debut doesn’t disappoint – I thought it was flat-out awesome
  8. The Scores Report: Kimbo Slice got his ass beat and then he beat some ass
  9. Eat Skeet: Big Kimbo the people’s champ
  10. Larry Brown Sports: Gina Carano – the face of female MMA
  11. Fighters Only Magazine: EXC on CBS – a troubled debut
  12. Kevin Iole: MMA’s network debut mocks true sport (“while it was mostly C-level talent on display”…)

Topics: Media, MMA, Pro Elite, Zach Arnold | 37 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

37 Responses to “Round two of reaction to EXC & Kimbo on CBS”

  1. Rollo the Cat says:


    Zach, you can appeal to a wider audience without disgracing the sport. Actually, I think the UFC has broad appeal among segments of the population people wouldn’t expect. Women being one.

    And are you suggesting Kimbo is a “cute guy”?

  2. Grape Knee High says:

    I’m angry, but only because of the shameful screw job Miragliotta inflicted on Thompson. Thompson should have slugged him at the end of the fight, instead of just slapping him.

    I thought the rest of the night was fine, other than the strippers and low brow production. To me, the UFC’s production attempts to attract redneck and guido neanderthals, but EliteXC is clearly trying to go for single celled amoebae. Low brow doesn’t even suffice.

    The show was fine for what it was, but it could have been better.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    From Dave Meltzer:

    “We don’t have a rating yet, but the news is very encouraging.

    The half-hours in the 18-49 demo were 1.4, 1.6, 2.1 and 2.4. The first hour was nothing impressive but the second hour was the highest rated in the demo on television for any show. The level of growth was spectacular. This is only from 9-11 p.m. so we don’t know how the last 50 minutes did but at least in the demo it handily beat the NHL playoffs.”

    This does not suprise me, as most of my friends started watching around the women’s fight. However, the reaction I got was almost all negative. They liked the women but hated the last two fights due to the endings.

    As I said before, it is the next shows ratings that really matters. See how much of an audience comes back. Premiere’s of shows are a weird thing like that… They don’t tell you too much cause sometimes people come to check it out, but it is impossible to tell the staying power.

  4. Zach Arnold says:

    The NHL gets the match-up they want with Detroit and Pittsburgh, two marquee franchises, with big-name stars… and they got beat ‘handily’ by Kimbo Slice and Scott Smith?

  5. Rollo the Cat says:

    I thought I understood ratings. Those numbers are not good from what I know. This is over the air major network broadcasting. Shouldn’t they have gotten maybe a 5 at least to be considered successful? Someone give me some perspective.

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    It is good for Saturday night I think.

    And comparing them to hockey is pointless. The WEC gets better ratings on Versus then the NHL does. Beating the NHL means nothing anymore.

    I think the perceived success can come from the rating going up every half hour. But to me, that just means people didn’t care about the undercard.

  7. Rollo the Cat says:

    I remember the XFL got a 10 on Saturday night and that was considered great.

    That is true about the NHL. I like hockey but it is a very regional sport. They could restrict the playoff broadcast to only the Pittsburgh and Detroit markets and the ratings wouldn’t change much at all.

  8. 45 Huddle says:

    The big question now is how does EliteXC make money. How much is CBS/Showtime willing to pay in order to have 4 shows a year on network TV and like 6 bigger shows on Showtime. I don’t even count the ShoXC cards, because they basically pull in no viewers.

    I just don’t see the commitment there like Zuffa has… Where they basically have a league of fighters to determine who is the best… And not organizational fighters being fed one guy at a time to come in…

  9. Terry Querns says:

    oh my god, kevin iole didn’t like a non-ufc show and wrote a column ripping it. what a giant surprise

  10. Grape Knee High says:

    Pittsburgh and Detroit markets and the ratings wouldn’t change much at all.

    That’s only because there are about 5 hockey fans left in the US.

    Detroit probably has more of a national fanbase than Pittsburgh. The Pens can barely draw in their own city, much less nationally.

  11. Dave says:

    I’m glad to see Zach commenting again as opposed to just posting links.

    I think your point is one that a lot of the people on the net seem to miss the boat on. You can have your irate sites and your Kevin Iole’s ripping this to shreds all that they want, but this show wasn’t about them. I’m sure it’ll keep their precious Zuffa press creds in line, but it does absolutely nothing.

    If you looked at the fight card ahead of time, knew that it was an EliteXC event and knew that it was going to be on national broadcast television, how could you honestly expect anything other than what we got?

    The big picture is that MMA has entered the public consciousness to a larger degree now. There might someday be a day when people don’t call all MMA “that ultimate fighting stuff” and that is pretty cool.

  12. Rollo the Cat says:

    “The big picture is that MMA has entered the public consciousness to a larger degree now. There might someday be a day when people don’t call all MMA “that ultimate fighting stuff” and that is pretty cool.”

    That MMA entered the public consciousness with that load of garbage is what is so bad. Besides, I don’t think the ratings were all that good that you can call it a breakthrough of any sort. But what damage was done was serious.

  13. Dave says:

    No doubt, it wasn’t a great show by any means. Really, it kinda sucked. But, you have to take into account that what would entertain us, like a Nick Diaz fight where he did some slick jiu-jitsu and the like is really not what would entertain most people tuning in last night.

    I mean, we were getting boos and ‘boring’ chants a lot, imagine if there was a fight with an extended period of groundwork? At least the fights were somewhat exciting and kept moving. Sure, they weren’t great, but they kept up a decent pace at least.

    This doesn’t do much to veer people away from the whole human cockfighting talking point, but I don’t think that people would have tuned in if it wasn’t human cockfighting. There really is no winning in this situation. If it was a bunch of technical bouts, people wouldn’t get the appeal of it at all. If it was just human cockfighting people are more apt to understand.

    When I watch fights with people who barely know the sport, they are watching for some brutal knockout, not for a slick triangle.

  14. 45 Huddle says:

    The same things were said about the IFL… That it is the first time people will see this stuff.

    I couldn’t disagree more. The IFL did not hurt the UFC’s success, and neither will EliteXC’s. People who like fighting, have already seen the UFC.

  15. Dave says:

    Well, for what it’s worth, IFL’s TV deal and EliteXC’s are a lot different and one of them reaches a far broader audience.

  16. The Gaijin says:

    I really can’t believe the bloodhounds out calling a “fix” and that Thompson got “screwed”.

    Was the stoppage really that premature? Thompson didn’t have his hands up and wasn’t protecting himself, was completely glass eyed and taking flush, hard shots to the head. In my estimation one or two shots max and he would have been BRUTALLY KO’d.

    How would that have served any better? The same people making a mountain out of a mole hill over this would be screaming “bloody murder” and what an abomination it was for MMA to have a “late stoppage” on network tv.

    This in no way absolves Kimbo from being exposed, but there was really very little wrong with that stoppage. And why would the referee ever stop it at the end of the 2nd round when Thompson was literally playing pattycake with Ferguson?? A stoppage wasn’t close to necessary since he deflected most of the blows and the ones that hit didn’t come close to causing even the most superficial of damage. I seriously can’t even see how one could argue “accumulation of blows” in that case.

    I knew people were going to piss on this event before it started and it’s nice to see that they’re coming out ravenously and apocalyptically critical – even in the face of positive ratings figures.

  17. doem says:

    i was entertained and so were the people I was with. gina not making weight sucked but the fight delivered. Kimbo fight was pretty sloppy yet everybody I was with enjoyed it. Two premature stopages that will have to be addressed (Like a premature stopage has never happened in the UFC or WEC) but the fact that they happened shouldn’t take away the fact that the fighters delivered that evening. Was it sloppy? yes. But it was an overall successful attempt at bringing MMA to network television.

  18. The Gaijin says:

    And I should add that this event in no way held a candle to UFC 84 or many of the UFC’s other events. But should we really have expected a fledgling organization to deliver a PPV quality event on free TV? Had the last two fights finishes been better would you be singing any different of a tune?

    If Elite XC had the resources, fighter roster, experience etc. of the UFC then I might have expected more – but people criticizing it would have still been negative about it if it wasn’t the second coming.

    It was entirely out of the organization’s control that a commission sanctioned doctor is an idiot or for that matter a referee.

    And correct me if I’m wrong but the judges are not employees of Elite XC, so this “fix” talk is laughable. Especially since the people saying it would be the first to jump to the defence of the UFC to point out the same fact. 1 judge scored the round 10-9 and the other two scored it 9-10, 8-10, so clearly Gary Shaw is the dumbest “fixer” in the world. Lest we forget the same reasoning I’ve seen on here several other times to the effect of: “scoring is quite subjective”, “seeing the fight live at ringside gives a different vantage point”, “some judges value some components higher than others” etc., etc. I’ve seen DECISIONS that were just as suspect or worse like Hammill vs. Bisping (where the judges were actually hired by Zuffa) voraciously defended. Where was the outcry that Chuck Liddell was awarded the fight by 1 judge against Jardine when he was completely outclassed? Or the fact that Ortiz beat Griffin to conveniently set up a Liddell-Ortiz money rematch?

    Again, the event was far from perfect but shouldn’t some growing pains be expected? This outcry and outrage is borderline ridiculous and reeks of sensationalism.

  19. 45 Huddle says:

    Overall show did a 2.7 Rating. Meltzer just reported it. Peaked for the main event at 4.7.

    About what I expected. The second show rating should be interesting. This is when we find out if it got traction, or if it turned off fans to it.

  20. Pontus says:

    I hope Elitexc next show is going to feature all-around mixed martial artists like Nick Diaz and Jake Shields.

    Instead of doing like they did for this show and just try to match up styles so they get an ultimate boxing kind of deal.

    I just listened to beatdown after the belland all that talk of the broadcast booth not towing the company line.. I surely must have misheard then when they put Cung Lee, Frank Shamrock and and someother dude in the same sentance as Anderson Silva when they talked about world class “top three” 185ers.

    I hope they get decent ratings though and have a better second show because this first one didn’t do to much for me.

  21. Ultimo Santa says:

    “I’ve seen DECISIONS that were just as suspect or worse like Hammill vs. Bisping (where the judges were actually hired by Zuffa) voraciously defended. Where was the outcry that Chuck Liddell was awarded the fight by 1 judge against Jardine when he was completely outclassed? Or the fact that Ortiz beat Griffin to conveniently set up a Liddell-Ortiz money rematch?”

    All excellent points…but anyone who says Kimbo vs. Thompson was a ‘fix’ isn’t even thinking – they’re just talking out their ass to get attention (and unfortunately it worked…Zach, why did you even include a link to that garbage?).

    I’m waiting for a follow-up post where he explains how Thompson had a fake blood pack in his ear that was detonated by remote, and that make-up was applied in between rounds to create the illusion of bruises and cuts.

  22. Ultimo Santa says:

    From the brain surgeon over at The Bleacher Report:

    “Put (Kimbo) against a real fighter from the UFC like Frank Mir or Randy Coulture and watch him be demolished by people who are professionals.”

  23. D. Capitated says:

    The funny part about that talk is that I bet Mir wishes he was making Kimbo type money right now.

  24. Dave says:

    There is a good point here that no, of course the judges aren’t on the EXC payroll, so the fix talk is moronic at best. The matchmaking was the only fix.

  25. Rollo the Cat says:


    I love your naivete. Seriously. It means you haven’t been involve din the dirtier side of things. I seriously congratulate you. No sarcasm.

    I on the other hand, have seen so much corruption that I always am looking for the fix. I grew up in Philly and worked a bit in the political system. NOTHING works as it is supposed to. Fixes, bribery, corruption are hidden facts behind every single facet of daily life in this city.

    Judges don’t need to be on Shaw’s payroll to be bribed. Refs don’t need to either. They can be influenced or intimidated. One guy who was at ringside was saying that Shaw’s son was standing cageside yelling at the ref to stand them up when Kimbo was getting beat on. The ref responded by telling the fighters to work or he would stand them up.

    Fixes happen. Maybe not as much as I have been conditioned to believe, but corruption is real and it is everywhere.

  26. The Gaijin says:

    That sword cuts both ways Rollo.

    I guess we have to assume that every mma event, including the UFC is subject to such possibility or in your words inevitability. And therefore we should just consider every decision, action or inaction of officials and judges to be biased and/or crooked when we don’t personally agree with them.

  27. Rollo the Cat says:

    Always vigilant, Gaijin. Always knowing that people are up to bad things. It isn’t about assuming everthing is crooked, I suppose, but assuming that it could be. Smoke…fire..all that.

  28. Grape Knee High says:

    Gaijin, I don’t that many people actually think the fight was “fixed”. I know I certainly don’t.

    But Miragliotta was most certainly playing favorites, and severe nature of his bias was what was especially galling. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a more biased display of reffing in the US.

    The stand-up from side control was absolutely mind-blowing. Not only did he barely give them any ground time before warning them, he gave Thompson about 2 seconds after the warning before standing them up.

    During the crucifix — when Thompson was most certainly staying busy — Miagliotta actually warned Thompson to stay busy or risk another standup. Another ridiculous moment.

    Was the lack of a stoppage during the crucifix bad? I don’t know if it was terrible, but fights have certainly been stopped for the equivalent (or even less). Think Hughes/Penn 2.

    Was the final stoppage bad? Not really, but certainly many, many other fights have been let go further under similar circumstances — Lawler/Smith earlier in the night.

    It’s the sum of all the actions above, not necessarily each considered individually, that makes people wonder wtf was going on.

  29. 45 Huddle says:

    Somebody live at the event said that Gary Shaw’s son was yelling at the ref to stand the fighters up during the crucifix.

    Gary Shaw is bad for the sport. Nothing more, nothing less.

  30. 45 Huddle says:

    Kevin Iole’s article is the top article on right now.

    I actually agree with him this time, but man, he makes me look like a Zuffa hater…

  31. cyph says:

    It doesn’t matter if it was a fix or not. Perception = reality. If it looks like a fix, it’s pretty hard to convince the fans otherwise. It was a big punch to the gut of the legitimacy of MMA.

  32. The Gaijin says:

    I think it was more of a punch to the gut of the Kimbo myth more than anything.

    Gary Shaw et al’s big money draw has been exposed at the very least and tainted (at least in the eyes of some). This is the best medicine for shady maneuvering if there was any.

    And if the ref was actually that impressionable that Gary Shaw’s functionally retarded son was able to influence his reffing…then I am speechless and he should be fired.

  33. The Gaijin says:

    But I’d say it is also par for the course for most drunken idiot fans to scream for stand-ups any time an mma fight hits the ground. So I’ll take it all with a grain of salt.

    In other more positive news – the WEC card sounds like it was great. I didn’t catch it but my brother and a few buddies that are mma newbs told me Faber – Pulver was “effin’ amazing”.

  34. Terry Querns says:

    wow, kevin iole’s column about elite xc is the top headline on the home page. worth every penny for the ufc and their “official content partner” yahoo sports

  35. dmp says:

    Guys like Shaw will eventually ruin MMA with this circus act they put on. The Smith Lawler fight was good on Elite, but beyond that the show was really bad. Too bad Affliction’s card in July isn’t on CBS or tonight’s WEC event wasn’t on instead.

  36. 45 Huddle says:

    In typical Sherdog fashion, as soon as the WEC was over with, they put up an article that was about the EliteXC Ratings and the next show which isn’t happening for months.

    Even throughout their podcasts and articles, they have been nothing but pro EliteXC. It is sickening, but it only gives merit to what Dana White said about them.

    Even there former editor, Josh Gross, completely bashed Kimbo in an article for SI.

  37. D. Capitated says:

    Somebody live at the event said that Gary Shaw’s son was yelling at the ref to stand the fighters up during the crucifix.

    And did he? LOL at people pointing out that promoters yell things during fights as if its unique.


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