Pro Elite Inc. -- the parent company of EliteXC -- holds its third ShoXC Elite Challenger Series card Friday in California. The best reason to watch? The ShoXC series was created as a farm system for EliteXC to grow its talent pool, so it's a great chance to catch a glimpse of before-they-were-famous fighters.
A boxing promoter for many years, EliteXC President Gary Shaw says he came up with the concept four or five years ago "of getting young fighters [boxers] television exposure, of putting them in tough fights, and letting the cream rise to the top." The concept worked so well for Showtime's ShoBox franchise that Shaw implemented the idea for EliteXC.
Aaron Rosa vs. Jared Hamman
One of the co-featured bouts of the night pits undefeated Aaron Rosa against undefeated Jared Hamman in a light heavyweight matchup.
This will be Rosa's second ShoXC event. He defeated Jefferson Silva by TKO due to doctor stoppage in the series' first event on July 27.
A former sparring partner of Tito Ortiz and now a full member of Team Punishment, Rosa played college football before beginning his MMA training three years ago. While he is considered primarily a striker, two of Rosa's previous wins have come by submission.
Hamman also has college football on his resume. His last fight was an impressive KO victory over Travis Wiuff, a well-traveled MMA veteran. Hamman has won all of his MMA fights by stoppage, including an overwhelming number of them by TKO or KO.
Pick: Hamman. Rosa has the advantage in pedigree given the top-caliber team he trains with, but Hamman would appear ready and willing to stand up and bang with him.
Javier Vazquez vs. JC Pennington
In the night's other co-featured bout, Javier Vazquez squares off against JC Pennington in a 150-pound fight. Like Rosa, Vazquez has also fought under the Pro Elite banner before, winning a three-round split decision victory over Adriano Periera on the undercard of EliteXC's Feb. 10 debut event. Shaw says that an impressive performance by Vazquez this Friday could land him back on the main stage of EliteXC.
Vazquez is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and is also the husband of Rose Gracie, the niece of Royce Gracie. Before his Feb. 10 fight, Vazquez was out of MMA for almost three years due to a torn ACL he suffered in 2003. He has battled a couple of UFC veterans in his career, scoring a victory over The Ultimate Fighter season five alum Robert Emerson and suffering a loss against Alberto Crane. Not surprisingly, most of Vazquez's wins have ended by submission.
Pennington, a Louisiana native who suffered through Hurricane Katrina, has won five of his last seven fights. Most of his wins have come by submission as well.
Pick: Vazquez. Vazquez clearly has the more impressive resume coming into this bout. Unlike the Rosa-Hamman matchup, this fight will almost certainly end up on the ground, where fans should be treated to a technical display of submission fighting.
Shayna Baszler vs. Jennifer Tate
Shaw has consistently included women's fights as part of his EliteXC and ShoXC lineups. This one will feature a 135-pound bout between Shayna Baszler and Jennifer Tate.
Baszler is coming off a first-round armbar submission victory over Jan Finney in the July 27 ShoXC card. Not an usual outcome -- all six of Baszler's victories have come by submission. She also boasts a 2006 win over Julie Kedzie (who lost to Carano in EliteXC's debut event in February). Baszler has also fought -- but lost to -- newly-crowned BodogFight women's champ Tara LaRosa.
"If Shayna shines, she's one that we would definitely move up [to an EliteXC event]," Shaw said.
Still, Tate, a Fight Girls season two alum, should not be taken lightly. She has competed as an amateur boxer and is unbeaten in her MMA career. Most of her MMA victories have come by submission, making Tate a dangerous well-rounded fighter. Her resume is highlighted by a triangle choke submission victory over Tonya Evinger, who lost to Gina Carano at EliteXC's last event in Hawaii.
Pick: Baszler. While Baszler would appear to want this fight to go to the ground, Tate appears to be comfortable on her feet or on the ground. Even though Baszler is the more heralded fighter coming into this bout, Tate will be a tough test for her.
Other ShoXC news
Shaw has his eyes on Baszler and Vazquez as potential candidates to move up to EliteXC with worthy performances, but said there is no hard-and-fast criteria for graduating from the far lower-paying ShoXC circuit onto the big stage of EliteXC. All it takes is one sizzling performance and a fighter could be instantly bumped to the upper ranks.
Shaw also says that he would eventually like to hold ShoXC events in Oklahoma and Missouri, two places where he has enjoyed success putting on boxing matches.
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