Brian DeSantis of MMANews.com was live on location lastnight at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The following is a breakdown of the nights events:
The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ slowly began to fill up as EliteXC’s Saturday Night Fights preliminary bouts opened up with an exciting TKO finish from Joe Sampieri (1-2) over Mike Groves (0-2) at 4:58 in the first round. Groves was unable to evade the barrage of strikes which forced the referee to stop the fight, leading Sampieri to his first professional victory.
Zach Makovsky (4-1) pulled out a unanimous decision victory (29-27, 29-26, 29-26) against Andres Soares (5-2). Soares was able to control Makovsky with a combination of strikes and grappling in the first round. However, Soares was unable to mount any offense in the later rounds, subject to powerful strikes and failed takedown attempts.
The ProElite.com streamed internet bouts began with lightweights James Jones (7-5) and Calvin Kattar (2-1). Jones was able to score a first round submission victory via rear naked choke over Kattar. In similar fashion, Justin Robbins (12-4-1) was submitted in the first round via rear naked choke by Wilson Reis (4-0). After taking Robbins down, Reis attempted quite a few submissions, and although Robbins defended with great skill, he was ultimately caught and the fight was over at 4:49.
The following bout featured former UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Serra’s brother, Nick Serra (8-3) and Matt Makowski (3-0). Makowski and Serra mixed it up in most of the first round with Makowski getting the better of the exchanges and Serra trying a few submissions, including an arm bar attempt which was counter with a powerbomb by Makowski. In the second round Serra came out very tired. Makowski continued to win the exchanges. Serra attempted to pull guard and refused to get up. A point was deducted from Serra by the referee. Serra would go on to very sluggishly pull guard again. Serra was unable to continue, refusing to stand up after an attempt to pull guard and lost via TKO (Refusal to fight).
Carlos Moreno (5-3), for lack of a better wording, stopped himself at the end of the first round against Carlton Haselrig (2-0). Haselrig scored two takedowns in the first round and controlled most of the fight. At the end of the round, although Moreno did not appear to be injured, or tired, he had no interest to continue fighting.
In the final internet bout, Chris Liguori (9-7) came out with fireworks against Jim Bova (3-1) by throwing a powerful head kick which skimmed Bova. After Liguori’s barrage, Bova decided to take the fight to the ground which led him to find himself in a tight arm bar attempt. Bova was able to defend against Liguori by wiggling and slamming his way out. The second round began much of the same with Liguori coming out swinging. The fight goes to the ground where Bova attempted a guillotine choke. Liguori was able to evade the submission and began to ground and pound Bova. Bova’s head was opened up with a deep cut during the ground and pound. The cut led the doctor to stop the fight, declaring Liguori as the winner in the second round via TKO (cut).
The televised portion of the event opened up with musical guest Busta Rhymes, who put on a spectacular, well-received performance. Mixed Martial Arts had officially made history and was on primetime television for the first time ever.
Fireworks began not only during the introduction to the show, but also in the first fight of the televised night. With devastating strikes, Brett “The Grim” Rogers (7-0) made quick work of Jon Murphy (4-2) scoring a TKO victory at 1:01 in the first round. Rogers went on to express his interest to fight main event fighter Kimbo Slice in the future in his post fight interview. With heart and determination, a lucky fan was able to catch the spinning hat of Brett Rogers after his victory. The child was spinning it on his finger all night.
Bad blood would grace the cage in the next fight as the always stylish “New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni (10-10) squared off with hard hitting “Smokin” Joe Villasenor (26-6). After receiving the biggest ovation of the night both fighters came out with some ill intentions. Villasenor attempted a head kick which led the fight to the ground very shortly. After scrambling to their feet, Villasenor landed some shots which sent Baroni reeling towards the fence. After a sprawled shot attempt by Baroni, Villasenor applied a guillotine choke. Baroni was able to get to his feet, but was quickly put down to the canvas by “Smokin” Joe with a flurry of punches, forcing the ref to step in and end the fight. Villasenor wins via in the first round via TKO (Punches). After storming out of the ring, Baroni returned to cage, showing class, to be in attendance for the official announcement.
Up next was a women’s division bout between Gina “Conviction” Carano (6-0) and Kaitlin Young (4-2). This was a catch weight bout as Carano was unable to make the 140lbs weight limit for the fight. After a brief stand up exchange, Carano took the fight to the ground. Young, able to scramble back to her feet, continued to trade blows with Carano. After being pushed against the fence, Young scored a takedown against Carano. After another scramble, the round ended after Carano landed some hard shots. A very close first round for the two fighters. (Note: Two of the three judges scored the round 10-9 in favor of Carano).
The second round was a back and forth striking war with both fighters landing shots, but Carano doing more damage. Young was lit up with countless spot on shots from Carano. After a powerful push kick, Young went tumbling to the ground where Carano secured Young’s back and applied a rear naked choke. Young was saved by the bell; oh so one thought. Young was forced to withdraw from the competition via doctor’s stoppage because of lacerations on her eye, leaving Carano to keep her undefeated MMA record.
Defending EliteXC middleweight champion, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (15-4-1), would defend his title for the first time against another fighter of great knockout power, Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith (15-4-1). To the crowd’s displeasure, the fighters spent the first minute of the round feeling each other out and sizing each other up. Single shots were thrown by both fighters, most missing or proving ineffective. After a kick to the head by Smith, both fighters picked up the pace and began to swing. Lawler peppered Smith with Jabs as Smith tried to circle out against the cage. A kick to the midsection had Smith backing up in pain, only to be met by another one. Lawler came in with a flurry of a kick, flying knee, and punches. The bell sounded and a very wobbly Scott Smith made his way to his corner. The round was clearly won by Lawler.
After the fighters touched gloves to open the round, Lawler continued as the aggressor landing another kick to the midsection with a series of single shots before and after. The feeling out process continued until Smith clinched Lawler and followed up landing some powerful knees. A wobbly Lawler came back with some strikes of his own and the two fighters were pressed up against the cage. Lawler appeared to be very tired as the fighters made there way around the ring. Another back and forth exchange ensued, leaving Smith with blood coming from his head. Clinched up against the cage again, Smith began to land some well-timed elbows and the head of Lawler. Shortly after, the bell sounded. (Note: Two out of three judges scored the round 10-9 in favor of Smith).
Lawler peppered the gloves of Smith with some jabs as a means to find an opening. Smith returned with a super-man punch. Lawler continued to press the action using his jab. This would continue until Lawler went for a takedown, which was stuffed by Smith. After a brief exchange, the fight was briefly stopped due to an eye poke by Lawler. Unfortunately, the doctor ruled that Smith had to stop competing, to the great displeasure of Smith, Lawler, and the packed Prudential Center. The crowd protested as the two fighters embraced in a sign of mutual respect. The entertaining back and forth battle was declared a no contest decision at 3:26 in the 3rd round, with Robbie Lawler retaining his middleweight title. A disappointing finish for both fighters, but a great performance none the less.
All that was left was the main event between the very popular, MMA newcomer Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson (3-0) and Manchester, England’s own James “Colossus” Thompson (16-9). Kimbo received a standing ovation from the 8,000 plus fans in attendance, which would outdo the ovation received by Baroni earlier in the night. Kimbo came right out and began to stalk Thompson. Thompson looked for an early takedown which would lead to Kimbo being on his back. Thompson reigned down punches as Kimbo attempted to push Thompson away. The two fighters scrambled to their feet and Thompson was met with a knee to the stomach. The two fighters stayed pressed against the cage as Kimbo threw knees from a bent position. He took time to give the crowd and ref a nice thumbs up. Kimbo took Thompson down and applied a neck crank. The fighters scrambled back and forth gaining the dominate position on the ground, both landing strikes during their time on top. The round came to a close with Kimbo in the dominant position.
Round two opened up with a shot by Thompson. Kimbo countered with some shots to the head, only to be followed up by another stuffed takedown attempt from Thompson. Thompson put Kimbo in the clinch, landing a few knees and Kimbo took Thompson down. Kimbo attempted a guillotine choke, but Thompson was able to slip out. After a few moments of no action, the fighters were stood up and began to trade blows. Thompson was rocked with a series of punches from Kimbo and took Kimbo down. Another guillotine attempt from Kimbo went unsuccessful. Thompson reigned down elbows and punches on Kimbo who was pressed against the fence on the ground. Kimbo was able to hold on until the round ended. Staggered, disappointed, and tired, Kimbo made his way back to his corner men.
Round three opened with Kimbo rocking Thompson, who was bleeding out of his left ear. Although Thompson was dazed, he was clearly still in it. However, the referee felt otherwise and stopped the fight. Thompson and the crowd protested the stoppage. Kimbo fell to the ground holding up his arms, and was shortly after helped to his corner. Kimbo Slice wins via referee stoppage in the third round.
EliteXC’s Saturday Night fights appeared successful in its first event on CBS primetime television. It was a night of exciting fights, athleticism, and sportsmanship. Where EliteXC goes from here is yet to be determined. However, it is certain that EliteXC is looking at a favorable future.