Home > Uncategorized > EXC on Showtime (Shamrock vs. Gracie) – Complete Recap & Review

EXC on Showtime (Shamrock vs. Gracie) – Complete Recap & Review

Almost 4900 words! Am I MAD?! And NOT TIRED?! And DAVE MELTZER? Yes, yes, and no but I’m sure you’ll find some (but not all) of the same typos and grammatical errors.

Five minutes before showtime (no pun intended), and Bill Goldberg appears amongst Showtime previews and mentions that MMA is going to be taken to the extreme. Cheesy line, and you could sort of tell he was half enthusiastic about having to say it.

Show opened with announcers Mauro Ranallo, Bill Goldberg, and…Jay Glazer. SLATER IS MIA. I guess he had better things to do on a Saturday night. They show Frank Shamrock and Renzo Gracie arriving to the building (separately of course). We get a shot of the arena and the entranceway, above which is a giant metal dragon that breathes fire. I’m sure it looked impressive on paper, but was cheesier than a fondu pot circa 1975.

A video package is shown for the Noons/Bennett fight. Both deliver promos every bit as forced and unnatural as the ones you see metro fratboys give on shitty MTV dating game shows. EXC would be better suited doing sit-down interviews and clipping them. I’m sure they don’t want to “copy” the UFC, but hey, it works. Bennett’s entrance took literally about five minutes, walking slowly to the ring and talking on his cell phone. Oh boy, another one of those “charismatic” guys where he forces everything and appears as anything but. Goldberg tries to sell him as a “mini-Rampage” in reference to Quinton Jackson. Not even close. Ranallo says that Bennett grew up as a “street fighter.” Sadly, he never could get the fireball right. Noons is noted to be cross-signed with Showtime as a boxer.

Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett def. KJ Noons via TKO in the 2nd
Referee was Herb Dean. Those familiar with UFC know him well, and don’t read anything into that, since referees are not assigned by specific MMA promotions but rather the State Athletic Commissions. Herb gives the opening spiel while Bennett mugs for the camera. Gag me with a spoon. He then refuses to touch gloves, and he’s lost the crowd. First round was mostly both just dancing around a la Cote/Smith at the last UFC. Memphis crowd HATED it, and though pro wrestling fans know that Memphis crowds are quick to boo, they were right on here. ROUND 1: Both took swings but didn’t hit all that much. Bennett had his left hand down at his hip the entire time, and a better striker would’ve been pulverizing him by now. Noons got in some good leg kicks in the upper left thigh of Bennett, which I’m sure will be killing him tomorrow morning. They teased some action in the third minute, but nothing going. They get in even exchanges, and with less than a minute and a half Bennett hit a body shot and a hard right out of nowhere to knock out Noons. Bennett immediately jumped to the top of the cage and performed a back flip off it, then went outside the cage and strutted around like a moron. Jay Glazer tried to interview Bennett, but promoter Gary Shaw was talking to him about something completely inconsequential. Note to MMA promoters – Dana White makes his presence known, but doesn’t disrupt proceedings and stand in front of the camera grinning like a fucking idiot post-fight. Get out of the cage. Pat Patterson’s American doppelganger finally shut the fuck up so the interview could be conducted. Bennett says “don’t talk trash to the horse, because he’ll smack down your black ass.” Noons is white, and this guy’s either a moron, really bad at forcing his own developed character, or hopped up on something (I think the latter’s likely since his behavior just got more erratic). He was swearing up a storm and the Memphis crowd was booing the Hell out of him, which he reacted negatively to. This guy showed no semblance of respect for the sport or himself, and I’m just not one of those guys who is entertained by forced whackiness.

Gina Carano def. Julie Kedzie via unanimous decision
Referee was Steve Mazagatti, who had to be corrected when announcing the format – women’s fights are three three-minute rounds rather than three five-minute rounds. This wasn’t the most technically sound match when it got on the ground, but man did they put on a Hell of a performance. ROUND 1: Unlike the previous fight, both came fighting right out of the gate and went for kicks early. Kedzie put on a Greco-Roman clinch that didn’t go to the ground, and both were working their asses off the entire time. Kedzie managed to get a takedown but slipped as Carano motioned for them to take it to the standing position. Kedzie took Carano to the ground again, but was all over the place and her sloppiness gave Carano her back, then an open half-guard mount. Being trained in Muay Thai with little ground work experience, Carano got it back to standing. Carano hit a BIG overhand right that had everyone going “wow.” She ended the round with some really good roundhouses and overhand rights to finish the round. In between rounds, Kedzie’s corner tells her to calm down, commit, and not let Carano bully her. She looks absolutely shaken, and at this point I thought the fight would be over fairly soon. ROUND 2: Kedzie overcompensated a bit, going for a roundhouse and a spinning back kick that barely grazed Carano (it was all flash anyway). Kedzie shot in for another take down, but once again lost control. The commentators noted that neither was all that great on the ground, but at this point I was attributing much of it to nerves more than anything else. Herb gives a warning for them to work, but Carano is able to stand up before the DREADED 15 SECOND CLOCK OF STAND-UPPING is turned on. A few moments after standing, Kedzie shot in again and – yet again – lost control and ended up on the bottom of a full mount. It was a bit sloppy but a lot more lively than it reads. They eventually get back up and start striking. Carano hit a fantastic overhand right that knocked Kedzie to the ground, but didn’t end it. Kedzie can take a Hell of a beating. ROUND 3: Kedzie took Carano to the ground with a leg whip and gained the side mount (FINALLY!). She went for a triangle choke, but Carano maneuvered out of it beautifully and hit a straight right on the way up. The fight at this point was good, but the commentators were overselling it a little. With less than a minute left they had a great exchange, with Kedzie finishing the round by rocking Carano, who recovers. The round ended and both fighters embraced. Good moment. As they brought the fighters to the center for the finish, Shaw was once again all up in the camera behind them grinning like a fool. The scores are announced as 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27 for Gina Carano. Kedzie was frustrated with the last score, but honestly that’s probably how I would’ve scored it. She had a good flurry at the end of Round 3, but standing it was all Carano. Both conducted very respectful post-fight interviews, and I’ll take back what I said earlier about not wanting to see a women’s fight on this card. Good, good fight.

At this point it was 11:00pm and only two fights had completed, even with one ending in a first-round knockout. It’s worth noting at this point, too, that there was a lot of dead air at times both in terms of commentary between fights and arena shots. It being their first show, that’s to be expected, so I’m not indicting them on it or anything.

The first video package for Shamrock/Gracie airs that highlights Renzo. Renzo’s really charismatic and likable on-camera, and from what I’ve been told by my brother is the same way off-camera. Just an all-around nice guy, and how anyone could root against him is beyond my comprehension.

Another video package aired, this time for the Loiseau/Villasenor fight. Villasenor claimed that he has the fastest knockout in MMA history at 5 seconds. Whoever informed him of that either doesn’t match much MMA or is lying, because while there may be other faster knockouts as soon as he said that I immediately thought of Kid Yamamoto’s four-second knockout via flying knee of Kazuyuki Miyamata at a K-1 Hero’s card.

Joey Villasenor def. Dave “The Crow” Loiseau via unanimous decision.
Referee was Herb Dean, and this fight was Heath Herring (bad). ROUND 1: Villasenor quickly locked in a clinch and took Loiseau down for a side mount, throwing elbows, knees, shoulder strikes, elbows, and more knees. Loiseau, in the meantime, did nothing but perhaps ask himself if he left his coffee maker on. It went back to standing before a warning could be administered, then Villasenor locked in another clinch and brought Loiseau to the ground hard with a vintage Quinton Jackson slam. Villasenor got side control and then his back, but couldn’t lock in a choke. Villasenor was all over Loiseau at this point, and I immediately thought of Heath Herring’s piss-poor performance. With about 45 seconds left in the round, Loiseau finally showed signs of life by getting a full mount on Villasenor, but got caught up in a triangle armbar attempt. He managed to slip out and the round ended. My scoring would have it 10-9 Villasenor, and would’ve been 10-8 if Loiseau hadn’t shown what he showed towards the end. ROUND 2: Loiseau, after getting what I would imagine was a brow-beating from his corner, tried to take it to Villasenor right away but ended up in a clinch and on the ground under a half-guard. At this point commentator Mauro Ranallo made the Heath Herring comparison that I was making at the end of the first, since he at least had the decency to give “The Crow” a fighting chance before bashing him. With less than two minutes left in the round, Villasenor almost had his back but couldn’t follow through with it. It went back up and was immediately followed by ANOTHER Villasenor takedown. I left a lot out of this round, but trust me, you didn’t miss anything other than Loiseau doing jack and shit. I scored it 10-8 Villasenor. ROUND 3: Villasenor went for two roundhouse kicks that missed. Both guys kicked like crazy, but didn’t land anything. After about two minutes, both guys lit up and started doing a little banging until Villasenor clinched up with Loiseau. Herb Dean broke up the clinch against the cage despite the fact that Villasenor was working, which was bullshit. They went back at it, and Villasenor rocked Loiseau with a punch. Loiseau managed to survive the onslaught but was looking pretty dizzy. I guess Loiseau at this point just went “fuck it,” because he started throwing these comical flying roundhouse kicks that didn’t even come close to hitting Villasenor. The round ended, and it was time for a decision. My scorecard would’ve had it 30-26 Villasenor. Official scorecards were unanimous and all three judges scored it 30-27 for Villasenor. Mauro Ranallo was informed that of the fifteen minutes in the fight, 7:17 was on the ground. In the post-fight interview, Villasenor mentioned the booing and tried to defend Loiseau’s striking power, but it didn’t work. I think at this point someone mentioned to Gary Shaw that you shouldn’t stand in the background like a seven-year-old trying to get on camera during the post-fight interviews, because he wasn’t seen here. What an awful performance by Loiseau, who still hasn’t recovered from losing to Rich Franklin in the UFC.

Another video package aired for Shamrock/Gracie, this time highlighting Frank. Jay Glazer interviewed him backstage. Shamrock put over Renzo in his own way, by which I mean he acknowledged that Renzo kinda knows what he’s doing. He hyped himself up as the guy who put MMA on the map – people have an argument for him being one of the true all-around MMA guys, but I hope it’s a work and doesn’t really have it in his head that he’s the spark for the current boom, because nothing could be further from the truth. He said he wanted more Gracies and plugged his fight with Phil Baroni without mentioning StrikeForce. Again, Frank being Frank, I will not believe that fight is occurring until they’re both staring each other down while the referee gives instructions.

A video package aired highlighting the next fight.

Antonio Sylvia def. Wesley “Cabbage” Correira via KO in the 1st
Referee was Steve Mazagatti. I knock Cabbage, but I do genuinely like the guy. I just don’t think that MMA is his strong suit, and being able to take a hellacious beating provides for an entertaining fight here and there isn’t worth the brain damage it will do in the long run and his record keeps getting worse and worse – not below .500, but give it two years and it might be. Antonio Silva is in alright shape. ROUND 1: Both guys were banging right away, since this wasn’t marketed as a ground classic or anything. Silva got the better of the exchange, then showed his love for his trainers (the Noguieras) by shooting in and taking Cabbage down to the ground. Silva banged Cabbage’s head repeatedly, who just sort of shook it off. Silva, knowing that he won’t get the ground-and-pound stoppage, then went to a North-South position to try to get a guillotine locked in. No dice. They got back up with 2:30 left in the round, and Cabbage was completely gassed from trying to work out of Silva’s mounts. It caught up to him when Silva hit a flying knee – no shit, a 6’4″, 298 pound man hit a flying knee and it was as frightening as it reads – which put Cabbage on dream street. Silva hit a couple shots on the ground before the referee stopped it. Post-fight, Jay Glazer interviewed Antonio Silva via a translator and there was that cocksucker Gary Shaw again, peeking his head over Silva’s shoulder. Jesus Christ. Also, the interviews for this show went on WAYYYYY too long.

11:48pm, and they were just showing the recap of the night thus far before the main event. There were two fights going the distance, but it was leveled out by two fights ending with 1st-round knockouts. Even if the other two ended in 1st round knockouts, there was no way this was all going to end by midnight. Lesson learned by Showtime (hopefully).

A final video package aired for Shamrock/Gracie showing both fighters. Frank was pulling out a forced promo, but not quite as forced as the one for Bennett/Noons earlier in the night. Renzo knocked Frank Shamrock’s early retirement after earning a whopping $40,000 saying “he retired once at 23, and tonight I’m going to retire him again.” Frank ended the package by saying “good night, Gracie.” HAR HAR HAR NEVER HEARD THAT B4~!@!~!!!!! Let me state that for the most part the Gracie’s annoy me, but Renzo’s just so much more charismatic and likable.

Renzo came out to “Wake Me Up” by Evanescence (or whatever the Hell that song is called – you know, their first hit that spawned that evil fucking trend of stupid people buying their shitty albums) which cracked me up. Frank Shamrock, being the prick that he is, came out to “Born in the U.S.A.” to play off the fact that Renzo is from Brazil. I’d like to state for the record that Renzo became an official United States citizen recently, speaks perfect English, and fuck you Frank. During the announcements, some of the Memphis fans booed Renzo. Assholes.

Renzo Gracie def. Frank Shamrock via DQ in the 2nd
Referee was Herb Dean. Frank Shamrock is an absolute dick, but we’ll get to that in a moment. ROUND 1: Frank went in for kicks early, to which Renzo responded in kind. They traded on their feet for a bit until Renzo went in for the clinch. After twenty seconds of struggling, he was finally able to take Frank down into a half-mount. Renzo moved around a bit to get a side guard, but Frank still had his right leg hooked. Frank used the cage (and great leg strength) to push away from it and possibly get him out of the mount, which backfired and gave Renzo the full side mount. Frank threw knees to Renzo’s side while Renzo tried to get into a workable position. While still maneuvering, Herb Dean called for the WARNING, complete with a graphic on the bottom of the screen. Conspicuous by its absence was the clock counting down. Renzo was still working, but Herb Dean still made them stand up. This is where the rule can be trouble – there’s more to working on the ground than striking, and if a referee can’t see that immediately from his view, then you get bullshit stand-ups like this one. Frank was also obviously stalling and using the “15 Second Ground Rule” (“OF DOOM”) to his advantage. Frank hit a solid kick to Renzo’s side, then a knee and a decent overhand right. Renzo responded with an absolutely BEAUTIFUL takedown. I thought Mauro Ranallo was going to have to take a moment to himself after that one. Renzo worked himself into a side mount and started laying in knees on Frank. The crowd started chanting “RENZO” loudly, which was awesome. Renzo was still working on the ground and came very close to a full mount until time expired in the round. Good first round, which I would’ve scored 10-9 for Renzo. ROUND 2: Both were swinging until Renzo locked in a clinch, which Frank maneuvered out of perfectly. This was fantastic stuff. After standing for a bit Renzo went for the clinch again and after fighting for a bit took Frank to the ground again, which the crowd went nuts for. Another smaller but still audible “RENZO” chant broke out. Renzo got the side mount and went to work. Frank was a LOT more obvious this time around that he was stalling, even looking at Herb Dean to see if he was about to call for a warning. Thankfully Herb had learned his lesson in the first round and saw that one guy not doing anything doesn’t constitute calling a stand-up. At this point, the shit hit the fucking fan. Renzo had Frank in the side mount, with both of Frank’s legs propped up against the cage. Knowing that pushing out with the feet against the cage wasn’t going to work, Frank instead hit a knee to the back of Renzo’s head. At that point, Herb Dean should’ve stepped in and separated them, but he didn’t. As a result, Frank threw another knee to the back of Renzo’s head (which is illegal). Herb separated them and Renzo rolled over while holding his head. The crowd was very confused, and Renzo looked shaken. On the replay, it was obvious that the second knee to the back of Renzo’s head was intentional, especially when Frank felt out the back of his head with his glove right before the knee. The commentators, in disgust, noted that Frank turned to them and shouted “I thought we came to fight, if he wanted to wrestle he should’ve stayed at home.” What a scumbag. Herb Dean walked over to Frank and, Frank being Frank, he raised his arm up as if Herb was awarding him the decision to get the crowd to pop. In actuality, Herb was informing him that he was being penalized a point and giving Renzo five minutes to recover. One of Renzo’s corners was talking to him as he stood with his hands against the fence, refusing to sit down. He was told to follow the corner’s fingers and couldn’t, and was quite obviously completely out of it. The camera cut to Frank, who was smiling. WHAT. A. FUCKING. SCUMBAG. I don’t care if he’s just working an audience or not. Even bigger scumbags in the crowd started chanting “U-S-A.” Renzo’s corner finally convinced him to sit down on the stoolfor a moment, at which point the EMTs put a neck brace on him. Herb Dean consulted with Jimmy Lennon Jr. and someone from the Athletic Commission, which the mics and cameras picked up on. I’m not sure if the Athletic Commission is going to be very happy with that, but it made for intriguing television. Meanwhile, Renzo was escorted to the back by his corners and the EMTs. Herb Dean revealed to Lennon and the official that there were strikes to the back of the head, which is illegal, and the official noted that from his vantage point the second knee to the back of the head was clearly intentional. I agree. The ruling was Renzo Gracie winning by disqualification. Shamrock was mugging, and the announcement was made that Frank Shamrock was disqualified after intentional knees to the back of the head. He wasn’t mugging so much after that. The crowd booed the decision, but it was absolutely the right call.

The post-fight stuff was an embarrassment on Frank Shamrock’s end, complete with his typical uber-heel antics. Glazer interviewed him. “I thought we came here to fight … I guess I’m old school, I came to fight and not to wrestle … I think the knee convinced him to leave. I barely hit the guy.” Give me a break. At this point Herb Dean walked over, and revealed to Glazer that he DID warn Shamrock about striking to the back of the head. I wish the camera had caught Frank’s face when Herb said that. Glazer then summoned Renzo’s coach Caesar. “We have rules in these fights for a reason. This isn’t a bar fight.” The crowd booed him for it, but hey, welcome to the sport of MMA. Frank then apologized sarcastically. Caesar revealed that Renzo definitely had a concussion and was going to be taken to the hospital. Glazer asked Frank what’s next. “I guess I have to go to a rules meeting … I guess I broke the new rules.” He must mean the new rules that were in place when he had his first fight in the UFC. Regardless of that lame excuse of not knowing the “new rules,” Shamrock was explicitly warned by Herb Dean DURING THE FIGHT not to do it. Frank then upped the despicableness by calling Renzo a quitter. Goldberg tried using the half-hearted excuse that Frank was just being Frank, and he knows what he’s doing in terms of promoting a future fight. Regardless, both of those knees to the back of the head were intentional, and Frank Shamrock did it because he knew he was being out-maneuvered on the ground.

Jay Glazer was in front of Renzo’s dressing room attempting to get an interview with him. He revealed that Renzo couldn’t speak to them, and confirmed that he had suffered a concussion and was going to the hospital. The cameras cut back to Mauro Ranallo and Goldberg, who talked about the situation. He said that there was lots of blame to assign, and noted that Herb Dean should’ve jumped in after the first knee. I absolutely agree. The camera then cut back to the Gracie dressing room. Renzo was refusing to go the hospital, and was so out of it that if you didn’t know the circumstances you’d swear he was pissed drunk. Still, he was politely refusing, because it’s not in Renzo’s nature to be belligerent. He was in a confused enough state to where they were able to convince him to go just by being overly nice. Mauro Ranallo ran down the night’s full events, then hoped for the best in terms of Renzo’s help. They signed off and the credits rolled.

In an amusing moment, after the credits Goldberg was forced into doing a plug for Showtime’s series about Henry VIII, “The Tudors,” which debuts in March. In a statement obviously read off a cue card, he said “if you thought tonight was extreme, get a load of THESE guys.” Not giving enough time for the fade-out he threw his mic down, rolled his eyes and shook his head. HILARIOUS, especially considering that was obviously pre-taped.

OVERALL: It has kinks to work out, but the promotion did a really good job and surpassed my expectations. With the exception of the unfortunate ending to the main event and Villasenor/Loiseau, the fights surpassed my expectations and then some. The only instance in which I’d accuse them of excessive hyperbole was the women’s fight, but given that it was the first time most people were seeing it, it was historic in that sense so I guess you could use that as an excuse. Mauro Ranallo is awesome on play-by-play, and Goldberg was a lot better than I was expecting. In the future, though, I do hope they stay away from Goldberg’s professional wrestling background, since he seemed to politely dismiss any and all references to it. It had its weaknesses, but nothing beyond the expected first-show problems with pacing, sound, and that fucking dragon above the entrance ramp.

It’s a shame that the night was ruined by Shamrock’s antics during and after the fight. The biggest shame of it from my viewpoint is that it’s clear that despite not being very active over the course of the past five or so years, he still has it. However, if Frank Shamrock is in a situation that he doesn’t like to be in, he’s going to do whatever he can to get out of it. He wanted to be known as a champion in the UFC but didn’t want to defend the belt, wants to be known as the King of MMA but rarely wants to fight, and also has this weird thing on his website where you pay a fee for him to watch you work out and give you a “Frank Shamrock Certification.” Okay, that last one doesn’t play into my point, it’s just further proof of what an asshole he is.

This also lends credence to StrikeForce’s case against Shamrock, who contractually agreed to having his next fight be against Phil Baroni and then agreed to the fight with Renzo Gracie thinking that he could just because he’s Frank Shamrock. Well, he can just because he’s Frank Shamrock, but this incident will only serve to solidify his standing in MMA as being absolutely difficult to work with and a guy who you don’t want to build anything around. For people who wonder why the UFC never worked harder to bring Frank Shamrock back into the fold, tonight was a perfect example. It’s a shame that the powers-that-be in EXC and StrikeForce either weren’t aware of how difficult he is to deal with or chose to disregard any warnings they received about him. Well, lesson learned, and hopefully we’ll see another “early retirement.”

After last week, I didn’t think any MMA fighter would piss me off more than Travis Lutter. After tonight, I didn’t think any MMA fighter would piss me off more than Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett. A few hours later, Frank Shamrock decided he wanted to be crowned MMA’s Douchebag of the Year. What an awful stain on what was otherwise a good, solid show. It got people talking, at least.

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