EliteXC “Heat” on October 4 is arguably the most important live show in American MMA’s short history. If the show bombs, and CBS ends the deal, EliteXC will die, and so will the rest of the UFC’s competition. If it does a huge rating, and CBS buys the promotion, the UFC will have its first real competition in the form of a gigantic and powerful network.
Everybody knows how many mistakes the people at Pro Elite have made. There is no reason to go over them again. However, I have five recommendations for people in charge of the company going forward that I believe will help them survive if they are able to get past next Saturday.
1) Establish narratives for fights: This is one of the most important things the UFC does, and it seems like nobody else gets it. The fight between Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock is the best example. Currently, there is no narrative, unless you count people questioning whether the fight should happen as a narrative. The story here writes itself: Old legend comes back to take down the outsider that is an embarrassment to his sport. Ken Shamrock is amazing at promotion, and if they hammered this for 7 days they would give the media something to bite on. Instead we have Slice making a fool of himself on PTI. I could go on and on, but I think that gets this point across.
2) Fire Jared Shaw: This man is one of the last remaining artifacts of the regime that ran this hopeful company into the ground. He knows virtually nothing about the sport, has no impressive business background to speak of, has not pulled off a single major promotional feat, and embarrasses himself, Pro Elite, and CBS every time he speaks. Don’t even get me started on the way he was yelling at the referee to stand Kimbo and Thompson up. Can you imagine if Dana or Lorenzo did that in a Chuck fight?
3) Separate Gina Carano and Kimbo Slice: For better or worse, these are your stars right now. Putting them on the same show will regularly result in a show that does well followed by a ratings disaster. They should never be on the same show.
4) Only match your stars against potential future stars: Both Gina Carano and Kimbo Slice are fragile stars, Slice more so than Gina. Either one could lose, and when they do, Pro Elite better hope that another star is created in the process. What in the world do you do with Kelly Kobald if she beats Gina Carano? It’s a no-win fight. If you want to set up an easy fight for your star to win, make sure it’s actually an easy fight. Hopefully the conclusion is flowing from this, but I’ll put it in bold just incase: Do not book Kimbo Slice vs. Brett Rogers.
5) Work with Mark Cuban to get weekly television on HD Net: The biggest problem for EliteXC is they can’t get any momentum. Even after a successful show like the one in May, there isn’t any followup. They don’t have weekly recap shows or a reality show to keep fans in the mix until their next big show, and as a result any new fans created simply fall into the UFC funnel. Since they probably won’t get a weekly showtime series anytime soon, they should sign a deal with HD Net to do a weekly show that includes interviews, highlights, and fights from all the various promotions they bought for no reason. Most people haven’t seen these fights, so they would be fresh, and in between fights they could have segments heating up their next shows. They could even steal M-1’s idea and do “Fighting Kimbo,” in which a bunch of angry old fighters that hate what Kimbo is doing to the sport compete for the chance to fight him.
Of course, if the show bombs this Saturday and everything ends, then all this is for nothing. But I think Shamrock and Kimbo are big enough names that it will do well, so the important thing is what to do going forward. If they could execute all five ideas above, a future on PPV isn’t completely out of the question.
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