Elite XC: "Unfinished Business" probably won't get the record network television ratings that the first "Saturday Night Fights" event on May 31 received, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a better show.
There was plenty of action with three world titles on the line, including the highly anticipated rematch for the middleweight gold between "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler and Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith as the main event.
That main event rematch between Lawler and Smith started off similar to their first encounter. Both guys had their moments in the first round and it looked like it was going to be another back and forth war. Then in the second round, Lawler got cut on his head and blood became a factor.
In fact, Smith stated after the fight that he was waiting for Herb Dean to stop the fight because of all the blood, but that proved to be his downfall. Smith's wait-and-see approach gave Lawler a huge window to turn on the pressure ... and that's exactly what he did.
Lawler -- perhaps a sense of urgency -- was even more relentless with his attack after the cut. He landed some damaging knees and kicks to the body of Smith that eventually put him on the ground, where Lawler finished him off.
This was a good win for Lawler and one he probably should have had back in May. He continues to knock guys out, and has progressed nicely into a legitimate champion for Elite XC. It looks like Frank Shamrock is probably up next. That's going to be a great fight if it happens and a dangerous one for the champ.
The hometown fighter, Nick Diaz, got co-main event status with his fight against Thomas Denny. That's saying a lot about Nick Diaz's star power in Stockton, considering there were two other championship fights besides the actual main event.
No complaints here.
The fight was exciting, too. Thomas Denny came to scrap and stood toe-to-toe with Diaz for an entire round. There were several wild and sloppy exchanges, but Diaz steadily worked his technical boxing like he always does. The exchanges were clearly taking their toll on Denny as the first round progressed, but to his credit he stayed on the attack.
The second round started off just like the first one ended, but Denny obviously left most of what he had in that first round. In fact, it only took Diaz 19 seconds to finish him off. It was a fun fight to say the least and the crowd absolutely loved it.
We've waited long enough for a rematch between Diaz and division champ, KJ Noons. It's going to be hard for Noons to say Diaz isn't the number one contender now, unless he wants to fight Eddie Alvarez instead. Either way, the fans win, and KJ Noons more than likely loses.
Jake Shields has always felt like the Elite XC vacant welterweight title was his -- and he finally got his chance to make it official on Saturday night if he could beat Nick Thompson. However, "The Goat" hasn't lost a fight in two years (12 fights). On paper, this looked like a very close match and one that could possibly be very dangerous for Jake Shields.
But Shields came out and put on a show. He dominated "The Goat," finishing him in just over a minute with a guillotine from the full mount position. A crushing win over a top guy like this is monumental for Shields.
There were actually still people out there who were doubting his talent level. Tonight certainly cleared those doubts up once and for all.
This was his first big, high profile fight on CBS, and he came out with a bang, proving to the American fans that he is the real deal. The world is going to know about Jake Shields now, and he's a monster champion at 170 pounds for Elite XC.
He's one of the best in the world for sure.
If I have any beef at all with the show, it was that a couple of the fights weren't too competitive. I understand Rafael Feijao and Antonio Silva are being built up as stars, but there has to be some tougher competition out there for these guys.
Justin Eilers as Silva's opponent for the title was laughable. Eilers weight in at 218 pounds and was giving up almost 40 pounds to "Bigfoot." It certainly didn't have a heavyweight title fight feel to it.
With that said, there are still some heavyweight fighters on Elite XC's roster that could make for a threat to Silva's crown. Dave "Pee Wee" Herman, Brett "The Grim" Rogers and Kimbo Slice are just a few. It makes sense that Antonio Silva is the first Elite XC heavyweight champion, but now it's time to see him defend it against someone who's legit.
As far as Feijao, he's a monster at 205 pounds. He has the potential to become one of the best light heavyweight fighters in the world ... if he isn't already. I know Galbraith is a tough guy with a pretty good record, but it's clear he's not on Feijao's level -- he's not even a full-time fighter.
I'm not trying to take anything away from Galbraith, he's a tough dude, but I want to see Feijao get tested and Galbraith didn't do that.
The company has a Sho XC Challenger Series event coming up on August 15 that will showcase at least two or three light heavyweight fights with some interesting prospects.Poai Sugunama, Jared Hamman, "Snake" Diabate and Jaime Fletcher are all but confirmed for the card.
Perhaps a challenger for Feijao and the vacant light heavyweight strap will emerge.
The woman's fight was awesome. They both fought with a ton of heart. Shayna Baszler laid it on the line, but Cristiane Cyborg was way too tough. Her Muay Thai is nasty -- maybe even better than Gina Carano, who incidentally could be her next opponent.
Watch out Gina.
Something weird, however, happened in that fight during the second half of the second round. Cyborg dropped Baszler and thought she won the fight. She went into full celebration mode and was on the top of the cage cheering when she realized she was still in a fight. This might not have been the referee's fault, but once again trouble found it's way to a Steve Mazzagatti fight.
In the last fight of the night, Wilson Reis used a controlling style to score a unanimous decision win over a tough Bryan Caraway. It wasn't the most exciting fight, but it was clear the talent level was there for both guys. Reis is now undefeated (5-0) with three wins in Elite XC.
He's looking like the class of the company's featherweight division.
Last night on Inside MMA, the guys who run the Japanese MMA promotion DREAM, were talking about doing a featherweight grand prix next. I wouldn't be surprised to see the 23-year-old Brazilian, Wilson Reis, compete and do well in that.
Elite XC has a full schedule for the next couple of months. The promotion will be back on CBS for an October 4 card in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. That show will feature both Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano. Between now and then, there is a Sho XC event on August 15, and another scheduled event for September.
There are still going to be those hardcores who don't care for Elite XC, but it's safe to say that it's growing as an organization. The roster has expanded and is still expanding. They have some of the best fighters in the world, and some truly legitimate champions.
And if the events continue to improve and the match makers start giving us more competitive fights to watch, Elite XC could be on it's way to establishing itself as the clear number two behind the UFC.
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