Where Will the EliteXC Fighters Land?

Here is a prioritized list (somewhat) of EliteXC prospects and where they may land…

1. Jake Shields – I believe Shields is EliteXC’s best martial artist.  I guess he is their highest ranked fighter.  Shields has said that he wants better competition and this is his way out.  I am sure places like Affliction, DREAM and World Victory Road will come calling.  Perhaps they will offer lucrative deals.  Perhaps they can make one or two exciting fights, but the reality is the best welterweights are in the UFC.  If Shields wants to fight the best he needs to be in the UFC.  I expect him to land in the UFC.  He is the top prospect from EliteXC and whoever signs them picks up a great fighter and a instant contender for the belt.  There are countless exciting fights in the UFC for Shields.  This from GracieFighter.com

We are confirming that EliteXC has folded. What this means for our fans and supporters is that there will not be a Nick Diaz vs. Eddie Alvarez fight on November 8th. However Jake Shields in the UFC has now become a real possibility. We will be updating our site for future developments.<!– –>

2. Gina Carano – She may hurt the most from this as women’s MMA hasn’t taken off yet.  Dana White has said many times he has no plans to start a women’s divison.  The only other organization that has a solid women’s divison is AFL.  They could contend for Carano’s services.  Gina is a huge draw, probably the top women’s draw out there and I still want to see Carano v. Cyborg happen.  Perhaps Proelite’s collapse may motivate someone like Affliction to start women’s MMA.  I lean towards Carano at AFL.

3. Rafael Feijao – I believe he is a top prospect.  He is rapidly climbing the rankings.  He is a great light heavyweight who trains under the Nogueiras and Anderson Silva.  I think he could be the best some day.  A report came last week that Feijao would be in the UFC in a year, and it looks like it couldbe sooner.  I do not know if he wants to geta  few more fights first, but the UFC is his goal.  I expect he will land in the UFC.  I just hope Dana and others do not sleep on this guy’s potential. 

4. Eddie Alvarez – Alvarez made a huge impression at the DREAM lightweight tournament.  He still feels that belt is rightly his.  He became a sort of star in that tournament.  Alvarez is young and super talented.  Any promoter would be dumb not to bring big offers for Alvarez.  In the end I think Alvarez ends up somewhere like DREAM or Affliction.  I say Affliction because they would allow him to fight in DREAM as well.  I’d love to see him in the UFC, but I doubt it will happen.

5. Antonio Silva – He is serving a steroids suspension which may hurt him, however my gut tells me he is innocent in this one.  He may really have some type of hormonal problem.  I do not know where he will land, but he is a top tier heavyweight and I believe can compete with most heavyweights in the world.  Affliction and UFC have the best heavyweight divisons.  If he wants to fight and win he may go somewhere like DREAM where there is limited competition.  If he wants to really compete with the best it will be Affliction or the UFC.

6. Robbie Lawler – Robbie Lawler is tough guy to figure out.  He is a consensus top ten middleweight in the world.  Surely the UFC would give him a chance, but he struggled in the UFC.  I still think the UFC should try to sign him, but I wouldn’t be shocked to shocked to see Lawler in Affliction or even Strikeforce. 

7. Dave Herman – Dave Herman is a solid prospect at heavyweight.  I’d like to see him get some attention from this.  He should be one of the top names out there.  He isn’t a top 15 heavyweight right now, but he is doing very good.  He would be a solid add for someone like the UFC, who has a weakend heavyweight divison.

8. Wilson Reis – Where can he got but to the WEC?   He is a solid fighter, but the lighter guys don’t have many options.  The WEC is quickly putting togetehr the best featehrweight and bantamweight divisons in the world.  For Reis the WEC provides a chance to fight the best guys in the world in his weight class.

9. Brett Rogers – I think he is very good.  Perhaps one dimensional, but he can knock someone out.  If I was the UFC I would worry about personality here.  He is very WWE.  He comes into fights with an entourage.  He talks smack.  He is talented and perhaps a guy on the rise, but he is a gamble.  Someone will sign him.  However, Rogers will go where the money is.  I don’t blame him for that.  I doubt it will be the UFC.

10. Joey Villasenor –Villasenor has fought nearly everywhere, except the UFC.  He has a solid record and impressive resume.  He is for sure a top ten EliteXC fighter.  Promoters will come hard after Villasenor.  He is better than some the UFC has under contract at 185 lbs, but will they offer Villasenor?  I think they will offer him, but I don’t know that is where he will land.  For some reason my gut tells me he ends up at Affliction.

11. Nick Diaz – I cannot imagine the UFC wanting Nick Diaz back, but I think I remember Dana saying he would give Nick another chance.  I don’t see him back in the UFC.  His antics are too crazy.  I think he ends up in Japan at either World Victory Road or DREAM.

12. Benji Radach – Rumor has it that when the IFL closed Radach called the UFC and talked to them about coming back to the UFC.  Apparently, the UFC told him he needed to get another fight first.  Then Radach signed with EliteXC and won huge over Murilo Rua on CBS.  The question is, does Radach still want the UFC or is he angry with them?  I do not know that answer, but I am pretty sure the UFC would want him now.  regardless, Affliction will be the number one contender.

13. Murilo “Ninja” Rua – Rua is talented, but he has struggled.  He has been an on and off fighter.  I think he is a solid pick up for anyone and he is worth a contract.  He could join his brother in the UFC, but he is not a top ten guy right now at his weight class or even in the UFC.  If he wants a title he betetr find somewhere else to go.  He could be another Affliction add.  I think Affliction boosts their middleweight divison through this.

14. Frank Shamrock- He is not like his brother, he can still fight.  I think he ends up at Strikeforce, but Affliction will come calling.  One thing is for sure, he will not be in the UFC  he and Dana White hate each other’s guts.

15. Scott Smith – As good as Smith looked against Lawler, I do not see him being a hot commodity, but he will land somewhere.  He has tried his hand in the UFC.  I doubt that will happen, although that bridge probably isn’t burned.  I would say Smith will be around and maybe fight in some smaller shows or go to Strikeforce.

16. K.J. Noons – I don’t know what to make of K.J.  He is a decent fighter, but not the best lightweight.  He has expressed intrest in boxing, so maybe that is where he will go.  However, I have a feeling he will try his hand at MMA still.  I think the WEC would be a good fit for Noons, but Affliction is another real option.  They may be more willing to allow him to box and do other things.

17. Paul Daley – He is a good welterweight, and maybe the UFC would like to consider going hard after another U.K. fighter.  He is no Bisping in terms of skills, but he isn’t bad either.  That may be a very real possibility to see Daley in the UFC.  Put him on the Ultimate Fighter 8! Not really, but UFC is very possible.

18. Phil Baroni – He isn’t going to the UFC.  He looks better at 170 though.  I don’t know what Baroni will do.  I have a feeling he will be a wanderer.

19. Ricco Rodriquez – Does he still fight?  He is perfect for Affliction.  He is a former UFC champ, who is past his prime. 

20. Kimbo Slice – I considered putting Kimbo near the top of my list.  Like it or not he is the face of EliteXC.  He is a big draw.  I decided to put him where he belongs talent wise.  With all the Kimbo bashing, I still think he is a good investment.  I still think he can fight good fighters and compete to some degree.  I think he is way overrated and overhyped, but some organization would love to have him.  I think the AFL would be a good choice.  Also, Affliction could get into the mix.  One more thing, do not be surprised to see a Japanese promotion making an effort to pick up Kimbo.  Bas Rutten, his trainer, loved Japanese venues and could influence him here.

I say that Dana and the UFC will go after 10-12 of these guys, but will come away with about 5 or 6.

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Evaluating Affliction

One of the questions that I keep thinking about is whether or not Affliction in here to stay and whether or not they will compete with the UFC.  No one disagrees that UFC is the standard of MMA right now, but Affliction is making up ground quickly.  It has been a tell tale sign of a slight change that Affliction has signed so many guys lately including many of the stars from the now defunt IFL, which was bought by the parent company of the UFC, Zuffa.  Affliction has signed Champs Roy Nelson and Vladimir Matyushenko.  They have signed lightweight star Chris Horodecki and are rumored to have welterweight champ Jay Hieron.  Affliction is cleaning up the free agents and doing better in that regard than even the UFC as of late.  So, what is there to judge a promotion…

1. Fighter Talent – Fight promotions are fight promotions.  There are other factors that come into play, but primarily if a promotion does not have top level talent they will not stay relevant.

2. Show Quality –  While good fighters is essential, the promotion must put on a good show.  They must entertain fans.  This includes exciting fights, good commentators and a solid show production.  Promotions have to build shows people will come to or buy.

3.  Solid Managment –  Managment is important to a fight promotion, not just anyone can do it.  A promotion may suceed or fail based ont he business savvy of the fight promoter or president.  The PR, fighter pay, contracts, TV deals, etc. all come into play here.

With that said, let’s see how Affliction is doing…

1. Fighter Talent…

There is a lot of hype around Affliction’s fighter talent.  Here is who I can think of off hand that they have and will use on their cards

  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Andrei Arlovski
  • Josh Barnett
  • Tim Sylvia
  • Ben Rothwell
  • Roy Nelson
  • Pedro Rizzo
  • Paul Buentello
  • Aleksander Emelianenko
  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
  • Tito Ortiz
  • Vladimir Matyushenko
  • Renato “Babalu” Sobral
  • Mike Whitehead
  • Edwin DeWees
  • Vernon White
  • Vitor Belfort
  • Matt Lindland
  • Jay Hieron
  • Mike Pyle
  • J.J. Ambrose
  • Chris Horodecki

I went to HDNet’s Rankings to see how many Affliction Fighters were ranked in the top 100 pound for pound or top in their divisons  here is the results.

(Pound for Pound Rank, Divison Rank)

  • Fedor Emelianenko (2, 1)
  • Andrei Arlovski (25, 4)
  • Josh Barnett (27, 5)
  • Tim Sylvia (55, 7)
  • Ben Rothwell (81, 12)
  • Roy Nelson (84, 13)
  • Pedro Rizzo (NR, 19)
  • Paul Buentello (NR, NR)
  • Aleksander Emelianenko (76, 10)
  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (85, 13)
  • Tito Ortiz (87, 15)
  • Vladimir Matyushenko (66, 12)
  • Renato “Babalu” Sobral (92, 16)
  • Mike Whitehead (NR, NR)
  • Edwin DeWees (NR, NR)
  • Vernon White (NR, NR)
  • Vitor Belfort (NR, NR) – Unfairly I’d admit
  • Matt Lindland (22, 5)
  • Jay Hieron (59, 11)
  • Mike Pyle (NR, NR)
  • J.J. Ambrose (NR, NR)
  • Chris Horodecki (NR, NR)
  • Put this into perspective, out of the top 100 the promotions faires like this in pound for pound top 100 fighters…

    • UFC -39
    • Affliction – 13
    • DREAM -12
    • WEC – 10
    • EliteXC – 10
    • Strikeforce – 5
    • World Victory Road – 3

    The point is that Affliction’s talent is overrated. 

    • They are right about the level of DREAM talent wise
    • They are no where near the talent level of the UFC
    • 10 of the Affliction guys that appeared on the rankings list have fought in the UFC before.  Some have been sucessful.  There are several former UFC champs (Sylvia, Barnett, Rizzo, Ortiz and Arlovski), however most of them did no better than fair in the UFC (see Matyushenko, Hieron, et. al)
    • Most of the top Affliction guys are in the second half of their careers and are past their prime.  They still have fight left in them, don’t get me wrong, but not for the long haul
    • What happens if two or three of those gusy get injured?  Affliction is hanging their hat on Fedor, Barnett, Arlovski and Ortiz.  They cannot keep putting everyone on every card, they will run out of match-ups.
    • To their credit, they can put on good fights.  The talent isn’t bad.  Their guys can fight exciting fighter, but they have exciting fights at tough man competitions. They need to sign younger talent and more talent.

    Show Quality…

    • I cannot judge them solely on their sole show.  Affliction needs to improve their show quality as far as commentating, interviews and production is concerned
    • Also, I thought with the exception of the last 3 fights the card wasn’t what it was billed to be
    • They are nowhere near the UFC level as far as enjoyability to watch

    Solid Managment:

    • The UFC with Dana White and the Fertitas is still the managment standard.  I have problems with the UFC and Dana White’s managing style.  I don’t like his constant expletives, I don’t like the way he trashes other promotions, I don’t like the stubborness he exhibits with signing guys like Lindland and Barnett, and even Fedor.  However, Dana is crafty.  Atencio is no Dana White.  Watch his video below where he can’t remember Josh Barnett’s name and he is the main event for the second show. 
    • Affliction does have the deep pocketed Donald Trump behind them which helps.  Trump is a business guiness, but he doesn’t neccessarily know MMA.  The money helps thought he same way it helped having Lorezon and Frank in the UFC early days when they lost tons of money.

    Here is the point folks…Affliction is a solid upstart company.  They may be around for a while, but before we jump ont he bandwagon and label them peers to the UFC and competitors to the UFC let them get through a few shows first.  Let’s see how much money they lose after 3 events.  Let’s see how many fights they can do after 3 card.  They could compete, but as for now it is the UFC and then everyone else.  Zuffa is sitting pretty in the MMA world.  They are the big leagues, everything else is just the minors.  Affliction, EliteXC and DREAM are in the same boat and in a year from now at least one of them will be non-existent.

    Eddie Alvarez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri – Dream 5 Fight

    Check out the awesome semi final DREAM 5 fight in the lightweight grand prix between Eddie Alvarez and Tatsuya Kawajiri. It’s worth the watch.  Great fight.

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    DREAM 5 News: Joachim Hansen Wins Lightweight Grand Prix

    You might be thinking how did Joachim Hansen win the lightweight Grand Prix.  He was eliminated in the quarter finals in a fight of the year candidate with Eddie Alvarez.  Follow along this post as I recap DREAM 5. 

    Quick Results:

    Lightweight Grand Prix Semi-Finals

    Shinya Aoki def. Caol Uno via Decision (Unanimous)
    Eddie Alvarez def. Tatsuya Kawajiri via TKO (Punches), R1 – 7:35

     

    Joachim Hansen def. Kultar Gill via Submission (Armbar), R1 – 2:33

    Joseph Benavidez def. Junya Kudo via Submission (Guillotine Choke), R1 – 2:42

    Kuniyoshi Hironaka def. Motoki Miyazawa via TKO (Cut), R1 – 8:57

    Hideo Tokoro def. Takeshi Yamazaki via Decision (Unanimous)

    Daisuke Nakamura def. Andy Ologun via Submission (Armbar), R1 – 3:41

    Yoshihiro Akiyama def. Katsuyori Shibata via Technical Submission (Gi Choke), R1 – 6:34

    Alistair Overeem def. Mark Hunt via Submission (Keylock), R1 – 1:11

     

    Lightweight Grand Prix Finals

    Joachim Hansen def. Shinya Aoki via TKO (Punches), R1 – 4:19

    Here is what happened.  Shinya Aoki and Caol Uno fought very well and the fight was very close, but Shinya Aoki pulled off the unanimous decision win placing him in the finals.  The second bout featured Eddie Alvarez and Tatsuya Kawajiri.  This fight was back and forth also and was a stand up war.  However, Alvarez was able to TKO Kawajiri in the first round.  The finals were set up to be Shinya Aoki vs. Eddie Alvarez.  That is what I predicted for the final and what many people predicted.  The problem is a cut on Alvarez’s eye caused his eye to be swell shut and a doctor forced him to withdraw.  The question then is what was going to happen.  It just so happened that Joachim Hansen had been placed on the card just in case.  Hansen had won his earlier fight with Kultar Gill that night and he was tapped to replace Alvarez in the finals against Aoki.  So, the finals were set.  Hansen seized the opportunity and won by TKO in round 1 to become the first ever DREAM lightweight champion.  He stated he would like to defend his title first against Eddie Alvarez.  DREAM has some contenders at lightweight!  Eddie Alvarez, Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Caol Uno, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Gesias Calvancante, Luiz Firmino, Katsuhiko Nagata, and Andre “Dida” Amade.

    The losing LWGP semifinalists were awarded ¥1,000,000 (about $9,400).
    Aoki received ¥3,000,000 ($28,000), and Hansen ¥10,000,000 ($94,000).
    (These bonuses are in addition to their fight purses.)

    Mid Year MMA Awards

    Best Knockout

    Honorable Mention: Luis Arthur Cane KO Jason Lambert, Shane Carwin KO Christian Wellish, Murilio Rua TKO Tony Bonello, Matt Wiman KO Thiago Tavares

    5. Anthony Johnson KO Tommy Speer

    4. Wilson Gouveia KO Jason Lambert

    3. Brian Stann KO Doug Marshall

    2. James Irvin KO Houston Alexander

    1. Wanderlei Silva KO Keith Jardine

    Best Submission

    Honorable Mention: Antonio Nogueira submits Tim Sylvia by Guillotine, Yoshiyuki Yoshida submits Jon Koppenhaver by Anaconda choke, Nate Diaz submits Kurt Pellegrino, Cole Miller Submits Jorge Gurgel by Triangle Choke

    5. Demian Mia Submits Ed Herman by Triangle Choke

    4. Frank Mir Submits Brock Lesnar by Kneebar

    3. Rousimar Palhares Submits Ivan Salaverry by Armbar

    2. Dustin Hazelett Submits Josh Burkman by Armbar

    1. Shinya Aoki Submits Katsuhiko Nagata by Aokiplata

    Best Fight

    Honorable Mention: Shinya Aoki vs. Gesias Calvancante, Cung Le vs. Frank Shamrock

    5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia

    4. Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver

    3. Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith

    2. Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin

    1. Miguel Torres vs. Yoshiro Maeda

    Best Fight Card

    5. WEC 34: Faber vs. Pulver

    4. UFC 80: Rapid Fire

    3. UFC 81: Breaking Point

    2. DREAM 4

    1. UFC 84: Ill Will

    Upset of The Year:

    Honorable Mention: Jason Day over Alan Belcher,

    5. Thiago Alves over Karo Parisyan

    4. Kevin Burns over Roan Carneiro

    3. Fabricio Werdum over Gabriel Gonzaga

    2. Josh Thomson over Gilbert Melendez

    1. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson

    Fighter Of The Year:

    Honorable Mention: Anderson Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Michael Bisping, Georges St. Pierre, Diego Sanchez

    5. Miguel Torres

    4. Forrest Griffin

    3. Thiago Alves

    2. Shinya Aoki

    1. B.J. Penn (2 Impressive wins over Sean Sherk and Joe Stevenson)

    Best UFC Newcomer:

    Honorable Mention: Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar

    5. Rousimar Palhares

    4. Dong Hyun Kim

    3. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

    2. Goran Reljic

    1. Cain Velasquez

    Worst Calls By A Ref. or Judges

    5. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson –  Not just that Forrest got the win, but that it was unanimous.  Many, including me scored the fight either a draw or to Jackson

    4. Brandon Vera vs. Fabricio Werdum- Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in round 1 when Werdum was mounted on Vera throwing down punches.  There was just 10 seconds remaining and Vera seemed to be defending himself well. 

    3. Nate Marquardt vs. Thales Leites — Leites got the win, but lost the fight.  He lost the fight due to two points taken away from Marquardt.  One point was justified, but the other was due to elbow to the back of the ehad that wasn’t to the back of the head.  I will confess, that another point could have fairly been deducted for an illegal slam, but I hated to see Marquardt get a loss on his record that I feel he won

    2. Phantom split decisions — How was Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove a split deicsion?  How was Heath Herring vs Cheick Kongo a split decision?  The right person got the decision, but how was it split?

    1. Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson – Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in the 3rd round while Thompson was still standing and failed to stop it when Thompson was mounted on Kimbo raining down elbows

    Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Melvin Manhoef

    At DREAM 4 Melvin Manhoef destroyed legend Kazushi Sakuraba, watch and see…  Next up for Manhoef…the semi-finals of the middleweight Grand Prix against either Jacare, Zelg Galesic, or Mousasi.

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    DREAM 4 Results and Thoughts

    Quick Results from DREAM 4:

    Shinya Aoki defeats Katsuhiko Nagata by Submission (Gogoplata) in Round 1:  5:12
    Alistair Overeem defeats Tae Hyun Lee by  KO (Punches)  at :36 of round 1
    Ralek Gracie defeats Alavutdin Gadzhiyev by armbar submission at 3:02 of round 1
    Hideo Tokoro defeats Darren Uyenoyama by unanimous decision
    Gegard Mousasi defeats Dong Sik Yoon by Unanimous Decision
    Zelg Galesic defeats Taiei Kin by TKO (Elbow Injury) at 1:05 of round 1                                                Ronaldo “Jacare” de Souza defeats Jason “Mayhem” Miller by unanimous decision
    Melvin Manhoef defeats Kazushi Sakuraba by TKO (Punches) in round 1

    Most Impressive Performance: Melvin Manhoef

    Knock Out Of The Night: Alistair Overeem

    Submission Of The Night: Shinya Aoki

    • Jacare proved he can fight with the best at 185 lbs.
    • Shinya Aoki had an excellent submission on Nagata (a gogoplata)
    • Alistair Overeem had a vicious KO
    • Melvin Manhoef rolled through Japanese legend Sakuraba

    Also: The Semi-Finals were announced for the lightweight Grand Prix, which is to be held in July at DREAM 5.  They are Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Eddie Alvarez and Caol Uno vs. Shinya Aoki.