One brief moment during Elite XC's second installment of
The CBS commentators quickly began singing his praises, first as the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, and then as simply the best 185-pounder.
While the commentators were right on both counts, the point is that the incident happened while Elite XC's middleweight title was up for grabs. When
It's not that Elite XC didn't put on a good show, or that it doesn't have good fighters. In fact, its second offering was a significant improvement from the first, addressing all the complaints from hardcore fans. But it doesn't change the fact that Elite XC put three titles on the line during a free, prime-time show and was still flattened in the ratings game. Its competition: the always formidable
The ironic July 26 event highlights the precarious position of MMA when it comes to mainstream acceptance. Elite XC served up Lawler,
What's an upstart fight promotion to do?
Throw Kimbo back in there. Add a little
If pop music and reality TV have taught us anything it's that mainstream popularity doesn't equate to quality programming. Rather, "mainstream" has often become synonymous with "watered down." Appealing to the masses is an issue MMA fans have to remember when they pine for acceptance of their beloved sport.
It's a tough line to walk for Elite XC. It's trying to make a big-time product without big-time fighters, so it's forced to settle for big-draw fighters -- no matter if it appeals to the hardcore base or not.
It simply can't, and never will be able to, please everyone. Eventually, the promotion is going to have to choose between the loyal MMA diehards, who knew Lawler long before he went prime-time, and its CBS executives, who look at ratings first and the sport's quality second.
Unfortunately, the choice seems all too obvious. Survival is too powerful an instinct to ignore.