Elite XC "Saturday Night Fights" is set to go off live from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., this Saturday, May 31 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. To get us prepared for the historic event, we plan to showcase a daily feature for each main card fight leading up to the historic mixed martial arts debut on network television. These features will include information on the fighters, predictions, as well as training notes and quotes from each fighter.
With the introduction out of the way, let's kick things off with the heavyweight bout between Brett "The Grim" Rogers (6-0) and Jon Murphy (4-2), which is slated as the first fight on the televised main card.
Here's a little background on each fighter:
Brett Rogers -- "The Grim" is an undefeated fighter who has never been taken past the first round. His last two fights have both been inside the Elite XC cage. He beat Ralph Kelly with strikes at Elite XC: "Renegade" last November and knocked out the man who will fight Kimbo Slice in the main event on May 31, James Thompson, at Elite XC: "Street Certified" in February.
At 6'5" and 265 pounds, Rogers is as big as they come in the heavyweight division. He sports a Clubber Lang-style mohawk with devastating power to match. He's only 27 years old and his combination of size and talent make him one hell of a prospect for Elite XC.
Jon Murphy -- A former starting middle linebacker for the Syracuse Orangemen (and a recovering alcoholic), Murphy has rededicated himself to a new sport and to a new substance-free life.
After starting his MMA career with three straight wins against the likes of Jerome Smith, Carlos Cline and Sherman Pendergrast, Murphy then ran into a man named Houston Alexander at Extreme Challenge 76 last March. Alexander -- as he's known to do -- stopped Murphy 56 seconds into the first round, handing him his first career loss.
In Murphy's defense, sometimes when you're fighting in those Extreme Challenge shows you don't know a whole lot about your opponent, and Alexander can definitely surprise you with his power and intensity if you don't know much about him ... just ask Keith Jardine.
Murphy went on to fight less than one month later and dropped his second straight in a close two round decision to Chase Gormley at King of the Cage: "Sinister." Determined to get back in the win column, Murphy trained hard for four months and earned himself a 2nd round KO win over Dave Huckaba at a Sho XC event.
Training notes and quotes from each fighter:
Brett Rogers -- Rogers trains with Team Bison out of Minneapolis, Minn., alongside fighters such as The Ultimate Fighter TUF) season two alum, Sam Morgan, Cory "Hardcore" Walmsley, Brandon Foxworth, Jami Klair, TUF 6 alum Paul Georgieff, Paul Bradish, and many more quality fighters.
I don't know a lot about Team Bison, but they seem to have a lot of big heavyweights, which can only help make Rogers that much more prepared.
Here's a snip from Rogers via xlfights.com about specific training to become a better all around fighter:
"I am trying to focus on the wrestling and jui-jitsu part of the game, basically anything that involves being on the ground. I think that my stand-up game is progressing really good right now but you can't always rely on that, you know what I mean? So it is very important to work on the other aspects especially the wrestling. Besides the wrestling, the jui-jitsu training is going to be very important to work on before my next fight. In the case that I do end up on my back I need to have some kind of defense from the bottom. I am going to work really hard on that so that if I get an opponent that wants to take me down or stand-up and fight it won't matter. From what I have been told so far, my next opponent is very good on the ground. So I need to make sure that I am well-prepared for that match up."
Rogers was also asked about how he felt about a fight against Kimbo Slice. Here's what he had to say:
"It is only a matter of time until that fight happens. I mean, I give Kimbo my respect for how he brings all of the fans but Looking at him as a fighter I see a lot of holes in his game. I am going to keep those a secret and not put them out on the line. I am always watching every fighter either above me or below me to look for the holes that I can expose in their game if we fight. Most fighters do the same thing every time they fight, so it becomes a habit. As a fighter, you need to find those habits and expose them when you are fighting that opponent. So I am definitely keeping Kimbo on my watch list because that fight is going to happen sooner than later."
If he continues on his current path watch out ... Rogers is a lot to handle.
Jon Murphy -- Murphy trains at Brad Daddis Training Center in Philadelphia, Pa. That's one of the top level training centers in the Philadelphia area. Guys like Matt Makowski, Justin Greskiewicz, Aaron Meisner and Wilson Reis also train out of this gym.
He originally trained some Tae Kwon Do and has been training Jiu Jitsu since 1994. At Daddis Training Center, Murphy is able to work with a solid group of instructors, including Rigel Balsamico and Daddis, who are helping Murphy get the most out of his natural athleticism while teaching him world class jiu jitsu and muay thai.
Here's Murphy in an interview with MMArated.com on how he thinks the fight will go:
"I'm expecting him to come out guns blazing ... looking for the knockout. His shtick is that he has real heavy hands and I'm gonna try not to get hit with them. I'm gonna fight a smart fight. I can't tell you exactly how I'm gonna fight the fight, every fight is different. I'm training all areas of the game, trying to get good levels in every aspect. Whatever happens happens. I'm not afraid to stand there and slug with him, but I'm not gonna just let him hit me. I want to fight smart."
And more from an interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com:
"I know for a fact that I've yet to fight my best fight. I've yet to become the best fighter that I know I am capable of being.... People are going to see a whole different fighter. I can see judging off of the fight against (Dave) Huckaba fight (during August's ShoXC), it was a knockout, but I watch it and there are some things that make me cringe because I know I am better than that.... But I'm happy to be the underdog."
Indeed, being the underdog is perhaps a blessing in disguise on such a big night -- it will put more pressure (in theory) on Rogers to perform well and come away with the win.
How the fight will go:
I like Jon Murphy as a competitor and as a person trying to overcome personal adversity. However, Brett Rogers is a monster. He not only looks the part, but he acts it inside the cage. This is a tough fight for both guys, but I think Rogers will win.
We saw James Thompson sprint at Rogers right out of the gate and score a couple takedowns in their fight in February, but each time Rogers was able to get right up. Even for a man pushing the limits of the heavyweight division himself, "The Colossus" still had trouble containing Rogers.
That's what was impressive about Rogers' fight with Thompson. Sure, he knocked him out and it was fun to watch, but everybody knocks out James Thompson. The fact that Thompson couldn't keep Rogers down on two separate occasions for even five seconds spoke volumes on Rogers strength and athleticism.
Murphy is an intense fighter, and that's one of his strengths, but he might want to slow this fight down a bit and look to extend it past the first round. Look at what happened to Murphy when he fought Alexander -- he came out with his usual intensity and fell right into Alexander's power game.
And Brett Rogers is way bigger than Houston Alexander.
Murphy can't let that happen against Rogers or it'll be a short night. Thompson proved you can't just bull rush Rogers.
Here's what I see happening:
Murphy will keep his distance early and try to avoid any big power punches. He'll want to take this fight to the mat, but he will try not to be obvious about it. By attempting to establish himself on his feet, he'll be trying to get Rogers comfortable and not thinking about getting taken down.
That's when he'll shoot for the leg ... probably sometime in the middle to late part of the round.
When that shot is defended and brushed aside we'll probably see a lot of clinching for the rest of the round. I think that will tire both guys out considerably, but Murphy will be the more frustrated fighter.
In the second we'll probably start to see the haymakers coming from Rogers and the takedown attempts coming from Murphy at a much higher rate depending on how tired they get. This is where the fight will be won. If Rogers can land one or two of those huge punches to a tired Murphy, he'll definitely put him to bed. But if Murphy can tire out Rogers early and then win the second and third rounds with takedowns and ground and pound, he'll win the smart fight he talked about in his interviews.
In the end I'm picking Rogers to score the second round knockout. I've seen him get tired in the first round of his fights before, which isn't a good thing. The good news is that he just keeps on throwing huge power shots one right after the other. If he's able to keep throwing, eventually they're going to land, and it'll be hard for a tired Jon Murphy to withstand the punishment Brett Rogers can dish out.
Brett Rogers via knockout in round two
Check back in tomorrow as we go in-depth with the middleweight match up between Joey Villasenor and Phil "The New York Badass" Baroni.