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James ThompsonEliteXC Analysis
by Franky Redzepi

Lawler v Smith - Baroni v Villasenor

Kimbo Slice vs James "The Colossus" Thompson:

The sport of Mixed Martial Arts will finally make it on to network television with the Elite XC May 31st card. Kimbo Slice will face off against PRIDE veteran James Thompson in the first MMA card to grace CBS and network television. Most people are writing off James Thompson pretty fast in this one, as everyone butt-kisses the newest MMA star Kimbo. I personally don't see it being such an easy fight for Kimbo. There's a lot of hype surrounding Kimbo, and to me, it seems that the hype has blinded some people. I'm not a Kimbo hater, I know Bas gives him a lot of praise and says he trains hard, but that won't guarantee him a win in this fight. The fact is, we just haven't seen Kimbo fight anyone worthwhile. If you look at this fight realistically, there's too many unanswered questions about Kimbo. I couldn't pick Brock Lesnar to beat Frank Mir because Brock hadn't done anything (I also said Mir would kneebar Brock, I'm amazing). I don't think it's smart to guarantee a guy with two fights will beat someone experienced in the MMA game. James Thompson might not be in anyone's top ten at this point in time, but he's definitely WAY better than Bo Cantrell and Tank Abbott.

So if you're not paying attention, I'm doing the unthinkable - picking Thompson to beat Kimbo. We still haven't seen Kimbo on his back in MMA. I don't care what you do in training, when you get put on your back for the first time in a fight it's different. Thompson beat-up Yoshida (Olympic gold medallist in Judo) on the ground while trading submissions with him. The fact that Thompson is training at Xtreme Couture with elite wrestlers has to make you think he's the better wrestler in this one. Those two facts alone give him an edge on Kimbo as far as the ground game goes. Thompson also unveiled a new style in his last fight against Brett Rogers where he successfully went for multiple takedowns. Thompson couldn't hold Rogers down, but he did take him down frequently. Thompson went on to lose that fight, but we saw much more of a wrestler's approach. Rogers was the bigger guy in that fight, Kimbo won't be. I expect Thompson to be the stronger fighter and he will have the size advantage, so if James wants to take Kimbo down I think he'll succeed. Does Kimbo have that same ability to stand up? We don't really know because Kimbo hasn't been taken down yet. As far as we know, Thompson is the better wrestler and the better submission guy. I can't assume Kimbo is amazing on the ground because he trains with Bas Rutten or receives praise from a bunch of training partners. Thompson will have the advantage on the ground, where he has finished people before.

I know everyone is waiting for me to talk about Thompson's weak chin. He has been put down by punches before, but the guy has only been put completely out cold once. kimbo sliceI don't think there's much room for the weak chin talk in the Heavyweight Division. If a 260 lb guy hits you in the face, there's a good chance you might go down. Nobody thought Thompson could trade strikes with Frye, but he did. People love to say Frye was washed up after it happened, but it wasn't being said before the fight. I don't think Kimbo will have too much room to be throwing bombs either way. It isn't like Thompson is someone who has no striking game at all. If he hits you it'll hurt, but why fight Kimbo in his comfort zone? Kimbo's strength is obviously his striking, so that's where he wants to fight Thompson. Can he knock Thompson out? Kimbo has shown power in his other fights, so yes, he can probably land some damaging shots. That's the only way Kimbo can really win this fight. But again, who has Kimbo beat in MMA? Cantrell and Tank, so I'm not sure how good his striking really is. It looks great, but when the other guy is throwing telegraphed overhand rights it's kind of hard to tell how good you're striking really is. That's obviously Kimbo's strength, but you can't really say how good or bad a guy is from there if he hasn't fought anyone noteworthy.

Thompson would be better off to take Kimbo down and make Kimbo work from the ground. Kimbo won't be throwing up triangles or gogoplatas, he'll be using his energy trying to get back up. Which is how I see the fight going. We don't know what Kimbo can do from his back, hopefully we find out what he has from there. We also don't know how good Kimbo's gas tank is, and I think that will turn out to be a factor. We know what to expect from Thompson, we don't know what we'll get from Kimbo. Thompson will force Kimbo to fight in the clinch and off his back. I think Thompson will dictate the pace, which will be another aspect Kimbo will have to deal with. I see Thompson taking Kimbo down, where he will look a little lost and worried. Kimbo will continuously struggle to get up and tire himself out a bit in the first round. Thompson will get the clinch in the second, get the takedown, and work on Kimbo some more. Kimbo will end up giving up his back, and Thompson will finish him off with strikes from there. Thompson won't be intimidated by Kimbo like some of Kimbo's past opponents have been. The fact that this is on CBS might influence some of the fighters to exchange in exciting standup battles, but this is a big opportunity for Thompson, and he knows what a win will do for his career. If you pick Kimbo in this fight, you're walking into the whole thing blind. I really don't think Kimbo should be favored so easily with what we have seen from him. I can't pick him for that reason, just haven't seen enough of him, similar to Brock Lesnar when he fought Mir. I think Kimbo has a future in the game, but I see him getting derailed for now.

Thompson wins by Second Round TKO. top

"Ruthless" Robbie Lawler vs. Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith:

Elite XC Middleweight Champion Robbie Lawler will defend his title against UFC veteran Scott Smith on May 31st. Two strikers with power, on network television, should make for an exciting fight. Robbie Lawler has been out of action for a bit, we last saw him knockout "Ninja" Rua in a fight where he would capture the Elite XC title. Scott Smith fought recently in his Elite XC debut, knocking out Kyle Noke. This will be a five round title fight, but I definitely don't see it going that long. This fight was put together for a reason. Elite XC wants an exciting fight, they want wars with knock outs, and this should deliver on that.robbie lawler I don't see any takedowns in this fight. Both guys have shown weaknesses on the ground so I don't see why either of them would want to take it there. This will basically turn into a kickboxing match with smaller gloves. Someone will go to sleep for sure.

I'm picking Robbie Lawler to win because I think he's the better striker. Robbie is technically better plus has more power than Smith. He has proven to be a smart, patient and crafty veteran lately as well. Lawler let "Ninja" have his way for a few rounds, just waited for Rua to gas before opening his attack. When Lawler got that opening, he put "Ninja" to sleep... brutally. Robbie also seems to be more athletic and explosive of the two. Scott Smith has a tendency to fall into a counter-punching mentality, like his last fight, and I think that will hurt him in a fight like this. Smith planted himself against Noke, didn't show much movement and waited a bit too long. He got the knock out, but his opponent didn't have the power of Lawler. Smith can't allow Robbie to score shots early on like Noke was able to do. If he does, Lawler will knock him out. I think Smith is going to sleep either way, but he'll last longer if he isn't stationary. Robbie has an aggressive style that is hard to deal with. Not many guys put that type of pressure on you in fights. "Ninja" never really looked comfortable against Lawler. Lawler has that type of respect from his opponents, they know he can end the fight at any time and he hurts you when he does it. Rua ended up finding that was true, and I see Smith finding that out in similar ways.

"It's not only his power, but it's how fast his punches are. Lawler and McFedries both hit you before you see it. " - Mike C. Miltech Fighter

This fight will turn into a brawl. As I mentioned before, the fact that this is the first show on network television will play a role in a lot of guys performances. I think these two would have slugged it out anyway, but live TV will add a little extra incentive. Robbie is explosive, fast, accurate, and powerful. That's a bad recipe if you're trading blows with the guy. Both have shown vulnerability in the past, but we really haven't seen Lawler dinged since his fight with Diaz. We don't have to look at their wrestling game, submissions, takedown defense, or cardio, none of it will be a factor in the fight. The only advantage I see is Robbie being the better striker. Lawler is a step above Smith, and we'll end up seeing that. Smith is a dangerous fighter however, and he always has the ability to knock someone out. The first round will be a bit of a feeling out process, but it will end in the second when Lawler knocks Smith out to defend his title.

Lawler wins by Second Round KO. top

"The New York Bad Ass" Phil Baroni vs. "Smokin'" Joe Villasenor:

Phil was originally slated for Face "Ninja" Rua on this card, but Rua is out. I think Phil has a much better shot against Villasenor than he would against Rua. Both guys like to strike, and they can both wrestle.Phil Baroni We saw a lot more of Phil's wrestling in his last fight against Hose, which he eventually lost. Villasenor dominated David Loiseau with takedowns and won a decision against him. I don't see Villasenor being able to dominate Phil with takedowns however. I think Phil has better wrestling than Loiseau and he should be able to defend better. Villasenor loves to start fights with the brawling mentality. He likes to trade at first, yet always seems to get hurt. That will be Joe's downfall in this fight.

You don't want to risk trading blows against someone like Baroni. Joey doesn't have the ability to take the power of Baroni's shot, and I don't think he hits anywhere near as hard as Baroni. Villasenor decided to trade with Ryan Jensen in his last fight and got rocked in the process. He went on to win with a brutal knockout, but why risk standing with Jensen? Jensen showed a clear weakness in his ground game during his UFC fights. If Joe stands with Baroni to tests his striking skills, he will get knocked out. Villasenor probably has the ground advantage, but I don't expect him to be able to take the fight down much. Joey needs to get past the first round in my opinion. Baroni is going to come out hard and aggressive with intentions to put Villasenor to sleep. If Phil doesn't end it fast, there's always the possibility of him gassing, which happens often.

Villasenor needs to find a way to tire Baroni out. He should make Baroni chase him and play the safe game, with that type of gameplan Villasenor can cruise to a decision win. Baroni has never shown much of a gas tank so Villasenor should capitalize on it. But I don't think he will, Villasenor will try to trade early as he always does. Villasenor will come out swinging, then pay the price when Baroni catches him with an early bomb. luckily for Baroni, conditioning will never be a factor. Baroni finds himself back on the winning track, and he'll do it with a big knockout on network television.

Phil Baroni wins by First Round KO. top

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