Note: MMAmania.com will have total fight coverage and LIVE results tonight from the BankUnited Center in Miami, Fla., beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
What is there to say that hasn't already been said going into EliteXC: "Street Certified" tonight in Miami at the BankUnited Center?
We've seen the workouts. The press conference is over. The fighters weighed in. There's nothing left to do for these fighters but to get in the cage and go to work.
Having the opportunity to come down to Miami and see firsthand what this evening is going to be all about cleared up any doubts I previously had about the quality of the show. From top to bottom, this is one of the more exciting (and intriguing) fight cards EliteXC has put together in its short history.
Unless you've been living on Mars you know the main event -- its been talked about more than Mike Vick's dog fighting career. It's street fighter vs. street fighter: Kimbo Slice vs. Tank Abbott.
We know what these guys are all about. They hit hard and they like to knock people out. It's also no secret that Kimbo has been training with Bas Rutten, a legendary fighter in his own right. But that doesn't seem to bother Tank.
Here's his thoughts:
"I think it is funny that he's got Bas Rutten to train him. This is a real fight, not a slap-fest. He should have gotten a real fighter to train him. Training with Bas is better than nothing. But you either have it or you don't. Technique doesn't make you tough. Kimbo is going to get hurt, that's for sure. The way I am and the shape I'm in right now I can't fathom a human being who can take five minutes of my shots."
It's hard to take Abbott too serious. He's usually joking around when cameras are present. He's mostly just trying to be funny.
Kimbo, however, is not laughing:
"Tank is full of shit if he thinks I can't take his punches. I'm bringing the whole thing to the cage. I am bringing the hood with me to this cage. This fight means a lot to not only me but the entire city. This is big time. That is why I am going to break his rib, break his nose, break his arm."
I happen to think Kimbo training with "El Guapo" is going to make all the difference in the world on Saturday night.
Kimbo's going to use this fight as an opportunity to show the world that he's evolving as a more well-rounded fighter. Call me crazy but I see this fight hitting the ground and Kimbo ending it there either by ground and pound or via some kind of submission nobody's expecting.
Prediction: Kimbo via first round ground and pound (T)KO.
Kimbo vs. Tank is the official main event, but according to Ricco Rodriguez, his heavyweight showdown with Antonio Silva is the real main event.
Here's a snip:
"We are the two best fighters in this organization right now. Tank and Kimbo are just tomato cans. We are the two real fighters."
Ricco has a good point. Kimbo is still new to the MMA game and Tank -- with a 9-13 record 00 hasn't necessarily proven to be the best fighter either.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, is 27-7 and has wins against some of the best heavyweight fighters in the world. He's beaten Randy Couture, Andre Arlovski, Jeff Monson, Paul Buentello and others.
In addition, he lost a razor close (and controversial) decision against current UFC champ, Antonio Nogueria. Rodriguez has proven he can hang with the big boys in the heavyweight division in the past ... but is he capable of climbing back to the top of the heap?
Tonight is a big test ... literally.
They don't get much bigger than his opponent, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (9-1). A fighter who we all know by now is considered by EliteXC Live Events President, Gary Shaw, to be the number one heavyweight fighter in the world. He's a huge 6'4" 265-pound man with excellent speed and power and a quality karate and jiu jitsu background.
Heres his thoughts on the fight:
"My opponent is a talented fighter. I am very excited and really anticipating the fight. Saturday night is going to be a great stepping stone for my career."
If this fight were five years ago I'd say Ricco would probably be a favorite. He was one of the best at that time, but battles with drug addictions and lack of dedication have slowed his career considerably. "Suave" now comes in as almost a 3:1 underdog.
It has been a while since Ricco's been in there with a guy as talented as Bigfoot and I believe it's going to show early on in the fight. Look for Silva to dominate the stand up and Ricco to attempt the takedown. But Silva won't be easy to control -- he is too fast in the stand up and too talented on the ground to allow himself to be submitted.
Prediction: Silva via first round technical knockout.
The next fight is a middleweight scrap between The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 4 contestant, Scott "Hands of Stone" Smith (12-5), and Australian fighter, Kyle "KO" Noke (14-3-1).
At the press conference Gary Shaw talked about the winner of this fight possibly being in line for the next shot at Robbie Lawler's EliteXC middleweight belt.
Noke has been training with Greg Jackson's camp in New Mexico for the last six weeks and is sure the high altitude training and the sparring with guys like Nate Marquardt and Keith Jardine have him prepared to win this fight.
The former security guard for the late Steve Irwin (the crocodile hunter) is considered to be one of the top MMA fighters from the outback and holds a win over TUF 6 semi finalist George Sotiropoulos.
Here's his thoughts on making the trip from down under:
"There are no easy fights. This is a long way to come for a fight from Australia, so I want to be tested every time I come here. I think this is going to be a great test for me."
Smith is mostly remembered for his possum-style knockout of Pete Sell back at the TUF 4 Finale. He's also the former WEC light heavyweight champion. Smith knows this is a big fight and that Gary Shaw has big plans for him.
Here's what he said about the opportunity:
"I am looking forward to this opportunity. I'm facing a very tough opponent but I'm confident I can come out with a win. EliteXC is loaded in the middleweight division, and I am making my debut against one of their best. If I can get past Noke, I have a chance to compete with the best in the business."
This looks to be a pretty even fight. Both guys are in great shape and this is one of the toughest fights to predict on the card.
There's probably a little bit more pressure on Smith coming from the UFC and being more recognizable to the average MMA fan. He's shown in the past he has the tendency to fold under pressure in big fights. And if Shaw is serious about top contendership being on the line, that could be the extra pressure that causes Scott Smith to lose his EliteXC debut.
Greg Jackson will have Noke prepared and he is very well versed in the ground game, which is a weakness of Smith's. I'm feeling the Australian in this one.
Prediction: Noke via unanimous decision.
The fourth fight is the third heavyweight match up of the evening. James "The Colossus" Thompson (14-7) will meet Brett "The Grim" Rogers (5-0).
This will be Thompson's first fight in the United States and he has had an up-and-down MMA career. He's lost 5 of his last 7 fights, but has recently moved from his home country of England to Las Vegas to train at the prestigious Xtreme Couture gym in hopes of strengthening his weaknesses.
His thoughts on the move:
"I have been training hard with Randy Couture. I am more well-rounded than I have ever been. Being able to spar and train with people who are actually my weight class is a huge advantage."
Rogers has won all five of his fights with first round stoppages. He's an enormous 6'5" 265 pounds. Of all the fighters at the press conference yesterday, he was the one guy I would have picked to win his fight if I were just some guy off the street who didn't know any of them. He's a monster.
Here's his thoughts on Thompson:
"I've seen tape on him. He doesn't have a chance."
Thompson has been knocked out six times, which doesn't bode well going into a fight with a guy like Rogers. I like Thompson's decision to move to Vegas and train with Couture, but I don't like this match up for him. Rogers is huge and has this seriousness about him thats just kind of scary.
Prediction: Rogers via first round knockout.
The last fight on the main card could be the best one of all. Yves Edwards (32-13-1) will go toe-to-toe with Edson "Little Tiger" Berto (13-4-1) in a lightweight scrap. This is another fight Gary Shaw said has possible title implications on the line.
Edwards has been around the block, fighting some of the best fighters in the world in both Pride FC and the UFC. He recently switched to American Top Team to train and has won his last two fights. At only 31-years-old, he's still looking to improve as a fighter.
Here's a snip:
"Six months from now, I want to be on a five fight winning streak. About a year from now, I want to be back in the top 10. A year after that I want to be the man that everyone wants to beat."
Berto was born and raised as a fighter. His father Dieseul Berto -- who is also his trainer -- competed in MMA in Japan and his brother, Andre, is an undefeated, highly ranked junior middleweight boxer. Berto is very well rounded with nice hands, a very nice high kick and a great heel hook. In fact, he has won win that hold five times.
Berto on tonight's fight:
"It doesn't matter how the fight goes, I can take it all. We're going to stand up and bang.I probably have better hands than him. He may try to take it to the ground, but I'm ready."
This will be a high-paced fight for sure. Both fighters look to be in great shape and should be ready to defend all submission attempts. Look for this fight to go the distance and to be a very tough call for the judges. I'll give the edge to Edwards because of his experience, but this is a coin toss.
Prediction: Edwards via split decision.
That's a wrap on the main card EliteXC: "Street Certified" main card preview and predictions. Remember that the fights will air LIVE on Showtime tonight at 10 p.m. ET.
In addition, you can tune-in to the undercard for FREE thanks to a LIVE video stream at ProElite.com that begins at around 7:30 p.m.
This is not a card you want to miss. There should be some explosive knockouts, a close middleweight fight and a lightweight war for the ages.
MMAmania.com will have total fight coverage and LIVE results tonight from the BankUnited Center in Miami, Fla. Definitely come check us out and discuss the fights with other maniacs.
In the meantime, feel free to leave your pre-fight thoughts and predictions in the comments section below.