Elite XC on CBS II

By Nicholas Bailey (nbailey@mmaratings.net)

As I previously outlined, EliteXC is in quite a bind with this show, and that really doesn’t change, regardless of who owns it. This is an excellent card, but it needs to draw like one in order to solidify the promotion’s future.

While any card that has both Kimbo and Ken Shamrock (nevermind Kimbo vs. Ken Shamrock) has a bit of a circus atmosphere, outside of the main event, the card is stacked with the talent hardcore fans feel Kimbo lacks. The addition of Andrei Arlovski really puts the card over the top, in terms of legitimacy, but Ninja Rua, Gina Carano, and Jake Shields would have made the card worth watching on their own. Not to mention the undercard features the most vicious woman in MMA in Cris Cyborg, alongside the TUF washouts and former IFL talent that are everywhere these days.

Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson (-325) vs. Ken Shamrock (+358)

Is this 'The Fight of his Life?'Clash of the titans this is not. It would be a much shorter list if I were to break down the strengths of Ken Shamrock, but it’s his many flaws that make him such a walkover for Kimbo. Ken has a terrible chin, being floored by Sakuraba, finished by phantom blocked jabs from Buzz Berry, and dazed by Tito Ortiz’s typically underwhelming ground and pound. Kimbo hits hard, so that’s a bad start for Ken, but it gets worse. Ken has awful gas and his heart will explode if the fight goes to the second round. That’s great for Kimbo, because even if Kimbo gasses as badly as he did aginst Thompson, Shamrock will be miles ahead of him, most likely already in an ambulance sucking oxygen. Shamrock is a tiny heavyweight, has shot knees, and is generally a broken-down old man. Again, this is great news for Kimbo, since it means the far superior athlete can power out of bad positions and avoid being muscled to the ground, where he’s weakest. Ken’s standup is poor; he punches like a brawler, but doesn’t seem to have any power behind his shots, and leaving yourself open and trading shots when you have a glass chin is simply foolish. Worst of all, Ken’s lone finishing threat, his submissions, consists of “low-percentage” leglocks that will result in giving up position if they fail. From his back, Ken will either be pounded out in short order, or have to stand back up as Kimbo pulls out and forces the engagement to the feet again.

Slice: 'I'm Not One-Dimensional No More'Kimbo’s strengths aren’t herculean, but they are more than enough to get the job done in this case. He’s a big, strong, athletic guy. He has good hands, decent power, and is very aggressive. His lack of technical wrestling ability will be counteracted by his size, speed, and power when he’s facing a smaller, older man with bad knees who was never a great wrestler in the first place. If Kimbo ends up on his back with Ken on top of him, he’s in a very dangerous position, since he appeared to be totally useless there against the never-impressive James Thompson. However, I think it’s unlikely Kimbo ends up there, and even if he does, he has a decent chance of rolling out or escaping when Shamrock goes for a leglock. Or even pulling a repeat of Ian Freeman vs. Frank Mir and just hammering his way out of it. I think many of the problems Kimbo had with Thompson were due to the fact that James is an enormous and very strong guy, which will not be the case with Ken. Kimbo Slice by KO round 1.

At -325, Kimbo is being strongly favored over Shamrock, but I really don’t think that line is properly set for as big a mismatch as this fight is. I have placed a sizeable (3u) wager here.

Champ Jake Shields (-550) vs. Paul Daley (+400) (for the EliteXC welterweight title)

Shields is an incredibly good grappler that would threaten most of those in the UFC at 170 lbs. He traditionally wins by outwrestling his opponents and positionally dominating them for a decision, but has recently been much more aggressive with his submissions, resulting in lots more finishes. That’s good, because this is a 5 round fight and the more time he spends in the cage with Daley, the better his chance of losing. Shields should easily defeat Daley, although Daley has a lot of punching power, he’s had trouble and lost to much smaller fighters that are worse grapplers than Shields. His striking will simply have very little effect on the outcome of the fight, because he’ll be on his back with Shields advancing position very early in the fight. Jake Shields by submission round 1 (arm triangle).

If you’re a big Daley fan, then a small wager on him at these long odds might add spice to this fight, but it will most likely just add sourness to his defeat, so I’d suggest saving your money for popcorn.

Andrei Arlovski(-455) vs. Roy Nelson (+375)

Visually one of the more hilarious matchups on the card, this should be an entertaining, if one-sided fight. Arlovski is a far superior athlete to Nelson, who is tough and game, so he’ll probably stick around and take a serious pounding. Nelson can win the fight from top position since he’s a good grappler with aggressive ground and pound and Arlovski is fragile, or Nelson could get into a slugfest and bomb Arlovski out. However, I find this latter unlikely since Arlo often shies away from fighters that can bang him back, although he did not hesitate against Rothwell as badly as against Werdum, he still kept his distance and played it smart rather than just banging away, even though he was the far better striker. Nelson is a big, powerful guy, but Arlovski showed very good wrestling against Jake O’Brien, who is a better and more athletic wrestler than Nelson. This will all be compounded by the fact that Nelson is a good deal shorter than Arlovski and his belly will make him less mobile. I expect Arlovski to work from the outside, move in and out and bloody Roy up with combos while Roy works hard to get inside and land big punches. Eventually either the damage will pile up or Arlovski will simply land “the big one” and Nelson will topple over and get pounded to a stoppage. Andre Arlovski by KO round 2.

These odds seem about right to me. I think it may be possible to make a play on Arlovski as the fights draw nearer, as the odds may move against him since so many people find Nelson’s fatboy style compelling, and remember that Arlovski’s chin isn’t rock-solid.

Gina Carano (-469) vs. Kelly Kobold-Gavin (+450)

Gina will have a tougher time with Kobald than many are expecting. Kelly can really hammer for a woman, where knockout power is a rarer commodity at any weight. However, that’s what she throws: hammers one after the other, right left right left. If that’s what she brings to the table, Gina will eat it up and outstrike her. Gina will probably hit harder and will definitely have a striking and reach advantage, and she’ll punch right down the pipe into the middle of Kelly’s face. Kobold has an excellent chin, but there’s only so much punishment one can take. Kobald is very stocky and will likely be just as strong as Gina, which will be interesting since Gina usually greatly outsizes her opponents and bullies them. Kobold likes to drive into a clinch and get rough against the cage, and it would be interesting to see how Gina does if she is overpowered and bullied.

There are questions about either one of them making weight. I expect Gina to look thinner than ever at the weigh in, and sail through, but Kelly was reportedly pretty heavy a week out from the fight. Kelly could ground and pound Gina if she gets Carano down, which would be very bad for Gina, since Kelly’s stubby arms make for some vicious punches on the ground and in the clinch. I don’t think Gina wants anything to do with Kelly on the ground. Gina is still very untested on the ground, and I think this will be a good, challenging fight for her. The short rounds should work in her favor, as it will not give ground and pound time to develop and accumulate damage. Gina Carano by decision.

Kobold opened up at +525 on Bodog, assigning her a 16% chance of victory, which I think significantly underprices her assets here. I think this is partially because so few people follow female MMA that Gina’s ‘name value’ is huge in comparison to Kelly’s. Gina does have the advantages here, but Kobold has a number of ways to win, which I think are much more likely. This is money I expect to lose most of the time, but the payoff is such that there is value in this bet.

Benji Radach (+190) vs. Murilo “Ninja” Rua (-205)

Ninja has struggled a lot in the past, but has literally only lost to top competition, many of whom significantly outsized him (the ridiculous spectacle against Sergei Kharitonov, anyone?). Ninja’s problems are that he doesn’t punch very hard, tends to leave himself open and punch from a fixed position square-on to his opponent, and has poor wrestling. He is very aggressive and can hurt non-strikers on the feet, but his best skill is his ground game. He can be bombed out by very heavy hitters like Kang, Randleman, Lawler, and Sergei, but he also can go the distance with bruisers like Rampage. He’s actually lost to every top level fighter he’s faced that is a big puncher, and Benji can certainly punch hard. However, Benji also gets stopped by worse fighters than Ninja, and Ninja has the ground skills to overwhelm Radach. I think this will simply be a case of quality winning out, and Ninja will find a way to finish Benji off, possibly handing him his first submission. Murillo Rua via submission round 2.

I have a lot of faith in Ninja here, so I made a play on him personally at -205. However, I’m not making it part of my official predictions, and I advise it only for Ninja fans.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (-625) vs. Yoko Takahashi (+475)

This fight is notable since it’s possibly the worst mismatch on the card. Cyborg is a straight killer, violently obliterating women of all sorts, but especially those used to the softer punches most female fighters offer. Yoko’s only chance is on the floor, and Cyborg has a better ground game than her husband. She’ll most likely obliterate Yoko in a horribly violent way, wherever the fight takes place. It’s too bad stomps aren’t allowed, because Cris loves to cave in other girls faces with them. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos via KO (Mugging) round 1.

My Official Plays:
3u on Kimbo Slice at -325
1u on Kelly Kobold at +525

General Public Prediction Record
Public Bet History

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