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.
The co-main event for the Elite XC debut on CBS this Saturday is one that many hardcore MMA fans feel should be the main event. "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler (15-4) will put his Elite XC middleweight title on the line against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 4 alum Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith (13-4).
Here's a little background on each fighter:
Robbie Lawler -- Lawler is a 26-year-old fighter who has been fighting professional MMA for more than seven years. He has seven career fights inside the UFC Octagon, as well as one under the Pride FC banner.
He's 5'11" 185 pounds and is known for his knockout power. His list of victims include Frank Trigg, Ninja Rua, Chris Lytle, Aaron Riley, Joey Villasenor and others. His four losses were at the hands of, Nick Diaz (knockout), Mayhem Miller (triangle), Evan Tanner (triangle) and Pete Spratt (injury).
In 2007, Lawler had a fantastic fight season. On March 31, he become the Icon Sport middleweight champion when he defeated Frank Trigg with a late fourth round knockout in what was one of the early candidates, at least in my eyes, for fight of the year. Then on September 15 Lawler won the Elite XC middleweight belt when he stopped Murilo "Ninja" Rua with strikes at Elite XC: "Uprising."
Icon Sport later stripped Lawler of his title for inactivity because of injuries. Kala Hose then won that vacant belt in March of this year with a win over Phil Baroni. That is definitely a fight Lawler is going to want, win or lose against Scott Smith, and what a great one that would be.
Lawler was also a coach on season six of TUF.
Scott Smith -- Smith is a 29-year-old fighter who, like Lawler, also has seven years of professional MMA experience under his belt.
In the early part of his career he was fighting at heavyweight before being invited to compete in the WEC middleweight championship tournament. He won the tournament and held the title of WEC middleweight champion, defending the belt once successfully against Justin Levins.
After his hot streak with WEC, he decided to try his luck in the UFC. But he lost his first fight against David Terrell. After only one fight in the UFC, Smith still competed on TUF 4 "The Comback." He lost in the quarter finals to eventual champ Travis Lutter. He fought three more times in the Octagon, going 1-2.
Smith is undefeated in Elite XC (1-0), with a second round knockout of Kyle Noke this past February at Elite XC: "Street Certified."
Training notes and quotes:
Robbie Lawler -- Lawler trained for years out of the prestigious Pat Miletich Fighting System (MFS) camp, but recently left to start up his own gym, HIT Squad, alongside Matt Hughes. HIT is an acronym for Hughes Intensive Training.
Matt Pena is the main boxing coach there, Marc Fiore is the primary wrestling coach and Kyle Watson is the head jiu-jitsu instructor at HIT Squad -- all quality coaches to have, but Lawler is the fighter he is today because of his years training with the MFS.
Here's a quote from Lawler during a conference call leading up to this fight:
"I'm not too worried about ring rust. I do well when I have some layoff. I've been training hard. I'm in shape. I'm ready to go. I'm mentally prepared and that's all that matters. I hadn't even sparred for the last two years, and I've been sparring for the last month and a half. So, I feel pretty good."
And yesterday at the press conference:
"I don't have much to say. I'm ready to fight. It is nice to be on CBS. I am going to put on a show.''
A fighter who is all about business ... nothing wrong with that.
Scott Smith -- Smith bounces around a lot with different camps for different fights. He sticks with the Fairtex Muay Thai coaches in San Fransisco, Calif., for his Muay Thai, but other than that, he mixes his training partners and coaches up frequently.
For this fight Scott enlisted the help of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz, and his training fortress in Big Bear, Calif., to hone his wrestling skills and cardio.
Here are a few quotes from a conference call leading up to this fight:
"This would be huge. This would put me right where I want to be. I've been knocking on the door to the Top 10 so many times, and then I lose a big fight. Winning a big fight like this would put me right back there. If you gave me a list of the top-20 185 pounders in the world, I would hand-pick Lawler. So, this is a huge opportunity for me."
On what would happen if the fight went to the ground:
"If Lawler gets in trouble, he will take the fight to the ground. Not enough people give me credit for my wrestling background. I took fourth in state in junior college in California, which is a pretty good accomplishment. I've been doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a lot longer than Muay Thai. I haven't been able to show that in my fights as much. If this fight does go to the ground, which I believe (because) I will get him stunned, get him rocked. I see him trying to take the fight to the ground."
And when asked to make a prediction for the fight:
"I will win by knockout. I have no secrets about my game. Not only would I be willing to give my opponents my fight film, but they can come in and film me practice. There are no secrets about my game."
A fighter who is extremely confident ... nothing wrong with that.
How the fight will go:
It's a no-brainer that this is going to be a stand up fight. Both guys like to hit and both guys have serious power. That means there's two ways this thing can play out. Either we're going to see a quick knockout, which isn't likely because both have solid chins, or we're going to see a back and forth stand up crowd pleasing war.
I'm going with the latter.
We've also seen from both guys in the past the ability to get stunned in a fight and still come back to win. That could be a big factor in this fight. Both guys are going to be crazy amped up and looking for the highlight reel knockout for the network television viewers.
This is a title fight though so we're not going to see two guys just going out there swinging for the fences. These guys are talented fighters with very good technique to go with their God-given power.
Here's what I see happening:
A title fight means five rounds, but I can't see this fight going past the third frame. Both guys are big strong powerful strikers. They're pretty equal all across the board, which means who's going to execute better, and who's more man.
I see both fighters getting rocked at some point in this fight. The winner is going to be the one who can persevere through that and still execute their gameplan.
These guys are going to be swinging and hitting hard. And that takes a lot of energy out of a fighter. We've seen Lawler look way past tired in a few fights, the Trigg fight comes to mind, and still fight through and execute. We've also seen Smith in the Pete Sell fight get hurt bad, but still have the little bit extra to throw one last knockout punch to win the fight.
I give credit to both fighters in that category, but I give the edge to Lawler. He just seems like he can take more punishment and keep coming, and for that reason I'm calling Robbie Lawler to retain his middleweight title with a third round knockout.
"Ruthless" Robbie Lawler via knockout in round three
Make sure and check back later on today as we take an in-depth look at the main event of the evening, Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson vs. James "The Colossus" Thompson.