Taking A ‘Slice’ at Mixed Martial Arts

By Tom Donelson
Updated: May 28, 2008

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Mixed Martial Arts is now hitting broadcast TV as EliteXC begins their summer series, Saturday Night Fights. XC promoters showed wisdom in featuring Kimbo Slice, former Youtube star and now a leading draw on the XC scene.

Kimbo has this fierce look and basically fights a raw go for broke style that often leads opponents wishing for mercy. He showed the success of the internet era as he broke through to superstardom as part of his challenges on Youtube. With millions of downloads, Slice entered the Mixed Martial Arts with built in audience and XC found themselves with a cash cow.

His opponent will be the James “Colossus” Thompson, a British Mixed Martial Arts and whose pre-Mixed Martial Arts days included work at “debt collector.” At 6-feet-5, he will be carrying a three inch advantage and Slice will be doing what he has yet to do in the past, look up at his opponent.

Another bout that is expressing interest is Gina “Conviction” Carano. An undefeated Muay Thai specialist, Caroao is becoming one of the most popular female fighters and American Gladiators invited her to be one of the gladiators to take advantage of her fan’s appeal.

Kaitlin Young, a Minnesota native, have been a martial artist specialist since she began taekwondo at the age of 14. This matchups brings two different styles competing against each other. The one beauty of Mixed Martial Arts is the contrast of different fighting styles as many of the combatants try to gain advantages over each other.

Robbie Lawler is trained by one of the Mixed Martial best trainers, the renowned Pat Miletich. Miletich school have produced many outstanding martial artists and one of those stars is “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. Lawler will be defending his Middleweight title against Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith and both of these fighters are noted knockout artist.

While scheduled for five rounds five minutes, this one may be over quickly. Like the Slice-Thompson bout, this bout will provide fireworks and show the attraction of Mixed Martial Arts.

While Lawler defends his title, former Middleweight champion Murilo “Ninja” Rua will be taking on the blunt talking Phil Baroni. On the night that the Middleweight championship is on the line, Rua is hoping that maybe a second shot at his title can be his; if he gets past Baroni.

Finally, Brett Rogers carries an undefeated record in his heavyweight bout with Jon Murphy. Rogers is a 6-foot-5, 260-pound hitting machine but his opponent is no shrinking violet.

Murphy used to nail running backs in the Big East as a Syracuse Middle Linebacker and he is hoping to bring Rogers his first lost.

By featuring two heavyweight bouts with two undefeated stars, CBS and XC may be setting up a future super bout between Rogers and Slice. XC, like other the various Mixed Martial Arts, is basing its popularity on stars.

Individual stars drive individual sports. Golf has Tiger Woods and TV ratings for majors go up when Tiger is on the prowl on the final day of the tournament and Oscar De La Hoya is still a PPV major star for boxing.

Mixed Martial Arts is developing its own superstars and the strategy of expanding into the broadcast markets is creating demands for their stars. Instead of putting this on Showtime, XC Elite is gambling that free exposures will lead to bigger demands for future PPV’s, the cash cows of boxing and Mixed Martial Arts.

CBS is cashing on the popularity of the Mixed Martial to strengthen its own sports programming and hoping that Saturday night will be all right for fighting.