Before he started watching fight DVDs, Judge Ian Visser thought "ground and pound" referred to making hamburger patties.
Cage tested. Street certified.
When you're the big dog, it's inevitable that other puppies will fight you for scraps. After several years at the top of the mixed-martial arts (MMA) industry, the behemoth that is the UFC is being challenged by new and expanding fight organizations eager to get a piece of the riches that the sport has been generating.
Among these challengers to the throne is EliteXC. Created by blending an existing MMA promoter (ProElite) with CBS subsidiary Showtime, the company promotes live events broadcast on Showtime and Showtime PPV. Seeking to bring its fights to a more mainstream audience, EliteXC recently reached an agreement with CBS to show EliteXC events on prime time television.
EliteXC's latest DVD release is EliteXC: Street Certified. Fights featured on the disk include:
The main draw on this two-disk collection is the fight between "Huntington Beach Bad Ass" David "Tank" Abbott (I do admire any man who demands two nicknames) and Kimbo Slice. Slice has become notorious via online videos portraying his brutal street fights, and is either the second-coming for MMA or is the biggest joke going, depending on your view. Abbott, while considered a veteran when compared to Slice, is no master of finesse himself; his technique largely consists of throwing haymakers as fast and as hard as possible before he keels over from exhaustion.
The problem with hyping this fight the way EliteXC did is that it's over in less than a minute, and as entertainment and sport alike, the match is disappointing. While this fight did get Slice a professional win, nobody could convince themselves that it represents a victory over a skilled, top-notch opponent. I suppose it would be inaccurate to suggest that MMA fans don't mind the idea of two big men pounding away on each other, but they still don't want to spend forty bucks on a pay-per-view event that doesn't deliver the goods, either.
I'm glad I didn't buy into the hype of this match and cough up any dough. Of the nearly two hours that make up the broadcast portion of the DVD, just twenty-six minutes are given to actual combat, and fifteen of those minutes are in one fight. Only the Silvio/Rodriquez fight manages to last the full three rounds, while the others are over in a matter of minutes. The Edwards/Berto match manages to generate a little heat with the aggressive tactics being displayed, but the remaining fights are dull efforts, leaving little to be remembered by viewers. It's obvious that EliteXC still has a long way to go in assembling the kind of top-notch fighters that can be found in the UFC.
Also troubling is how EliteXC seems intent on providing viewers with a traditional standing slugfest, rather than a match featuring a mix of techniques. The first "M" in MMA is for "mixed," but the referees tend to force the combatants to stand after only a couple of minutes of ground work. Admittedly I am a "ground and pound" kind of guy, but this unwillingness to allow the fighters to use their ground skills makes this more of a boxing match with an occasional knee strike than a true MMA event (it's telling that none of the featured matches ends in a submission).
For extras, viewers get six fights that were not featured during the original broadcast of the event. These matches include:
The bonus matches are the real treat of this release; almost every contest is superior to the main event fights in terms of quality and action. Undercard combatants tend to be less-experienced, but considering the yawn-inducing offerings presented in the broadcast, you'd be better off skipping the veterans and spending your time watching this collection of aggressive fighters instead.
In addition to the bonus matches, there is a selection of additional features, including behind-the-scenes segments, fighter bios, photo galleries, a glossary of fight terms, a list of rules, and a Kimbo Slice sticker. The behind-the-scenes section is the meat of the additional features, and includes interviews with fighters, training profiles, weigh-in footage, post-fight press conferences, and commercials for the event. It's not terribly deep, but it is more than the average MMA release includes.
Judging by what is on display in EliteXC: Street Certified, EliteXC has managed to get its hands on some decent funding. Production values don't quite match those of the UFC, but they come pretty close. The camera work is solid, graphics are well-assembled, and the event avoids the cheap feel that many other upstart MMA companies tend to have (bodogFight, I am looking at you). The 1.78:1 widescreen image is decent, with only a few instances of smudging on brighter examples of yellows and reds.
EliteXC: Street Certified isn't a bad release, but it isn't a crucial one either. Kimbo Slice fans may want to add this to their collection for completions sake, but the mediocre nature of the main event matches makes it unlikely that MMA fans will find much value here.
Guilty. The courts orders EliteXC to reduce the hype and up the fight quality.
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