Two weeks ago EliteXC held what many critics considered to be the best in their installment of ShoXC events to date. The event, which featured Wilson Reis winning the vacant EliteXC bantamweight (140 lbs.) title against King of the Cage flyweight (135 lbs.) champion Abel Cullum, was a strong show from top-to-bottom and included one of the wildest fights of the year with David Douglas staving off certain defeat en route to finishing Muay Thai standout Malaipet.
The promotion is back at it tonight (11 p.m. ET, SHOWTIME), promoting its third event in three weeks. On paper, it appears that tonight’s lineup could be just as strong as the ShoXC event two weeks ago at the Chumash Resort & Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.
Below is preview with predictions for the five bouts that are scheduled to be televised.
Dave Herman vs. Kerry Schall
Herman is one of the most unconventional athletes in all of MMA. Evoking some shades of the late-Evan Tanner, Herman has taken a solid amateur wrestling background and has coupled it with self-taught MMA training on his way to a 11-0 start to his MMA career.
Currently 2-0 while competing under the EliteXC banner, Herman is coming off his most notable win to date this past June during the promotion’s “Return of the King” event in which he TKO’d former PRIDE and UFC veteran Ron Waterman at 2:19 of round 1.
For this fight, Herman deviated a bit in his preparation, as he elected to spend some time out of his home state of Indiana in order to get in some training with a former UFC heavyweight champion.
“I am still training alone and, no, I’m not really worried about joining a camp or team although I went and trained for a week in Las Vegas a few weeks ago,” Herman told reporters on Thursday. “I worked on striking and how to block a punch … without using my face. I sparred with Frank Mir. That was fun.”
The 37-year old Schall is a veteran from the second season of Spike TV’s hit reality show The Ultimate Fighter. He departed the show without having competed after injuring his knee. That’s just one example of how the 10-year veteran has dealt with bad luck throughout his entire career.
His string of bad luck dates back to 2001 while competing for the Rings promotion in Japan. Rings officials approached Schall’s manager, Monte Cox, with a proposed match against a short, inexperienced, and unassuming Russian heavyweight. Cox and Schall ventured to Japan under the impression they were looking at a layup victory against a tomato can. Unfortunately, the unassuming Russian heavyweight turned out to be a then 25-year old Fedor Emelianenko, who was competing in just his sixth pro fight.
Fedor ended up demolishing Schall, submitting him at 1:47 of round 1. The rest, shall we say, is history?
While Schall is a respected journeyman who knows his way around the cage, it’s hard to envision him being able to hang with Herman for very long. Both come from a wrestling base but Schall is notorious for exercising poor judgment in his game plans and has routinely stood in the pocket and traded with fighters as opposed to trying to take them to the ground.
Tonight looks to be no different, as Schall will almost certainly try and stand and trade with Herman. Despite Herman’s wrestling background at Indiana-Bloomington, it’s his standup which has turned heads thus far. The lanky Herman has no formal striking training but has proved dangerous with knees from the clinch as well as kicks. If Schall is properly conditioned, he might want to pressure Herman and test his stamina by taking him to the ground in an attempt to try and gas him early. Maybe going to the ground with Herman doesn’t sound like a great strategy, but it will give him better odds of winning than if he elects to just stand with him.
Prediction: Herman TKOs Schall in the first round, setting up one half of what potentially could be a future EliteXC heavyweight title shot against Brett Rogers.
Mamed Khalidov vs. Jason Guida
A lot of people think Guida was signed by EliteXC because the promotion intends to develop him after all the attention he garnered following his ill-fated attempt to qualify for the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Maybe that’s really the case, but I’m not so sure. I believe more than likely Guida was chosen for this fight because he is from the area and could be a ticket seller in a bout that is probably really more of a showcase for Khalidov than anyingth else.
Guida, who is listed as 17-17, according to Sherdog’s fight finder, could actually be somewhere around 25-17. While speaking to reporters on Thursday, he acknowledged that the inability to make weight for TUF 8 was his fault and that he’s rectified the situation.
“I know what I’m capable of and I’ve changed my diet,” said Guida. “I know what I need to do. I got lazy; the training was there but I just wasn’t disciplined or focused and I wasn’t mentally there. I am now.”
Khalidov, 17-3-1, is a native of Grozny, Chechnya who fled to Poland due to his objection of fighting for the Chechen national army. While Khalidov considered himself to be a fighter, he did not consider himself to be a killer. But don’t let his decision to evade military service fool you, he does not lack a killer instinct when it comes to fighting in the ring, as he did not earn the nickname “Cannibal” by accident.
An intriguing prospect who could factor into the EliteXC light heavyweight title picture sooner rather than later, Khalidov is still untested. Dominating the Polish MMA scene is one thing while making your mark in the U.S. is another. However, Guida should be a relatively easy test. While Guida’s strength is wrestling, Khalidov is very capable when it comes to submissions. Khalidov’s standup has made strides in recent fights and while he still has much room for improvement in that department, his striking could already been better than Guida’s.
Prediction: Khalidov via second round submission.
Anthony Lapsley vs. Mike Stumpf
In a promotion starving for 170 pound prospects to step up and challenge current EiteXC welterweight champion Jake Shields, Lapsley probably would already have competed for the promotion had it not been for his questionable judgment in the past.
The current King of the Cage welterweight champion, Lapsley, 13-3, has been plagued in his career by inconsistency. The father to six children, Lapsley also spent time on the sidelines following a six month suspension handed down by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after he tested positive for marijuana following a victory over Jaime Jara at King of the Cage’s “Arch Rivals” event in Oct. of 2007. He paid an even bigger price after NSAC overturned the victory and ruled it a no contest. It’s a win that would look pretty good on his resume in light of Jara handing Giva Santana his first-ever loss at EliteXC’s ShoXC event from two weeks ago.
A top-shelf athlete, the 28-year old former amateur wrestler needs to step up and show improved striking in this bout. Lapsley is aware that he needs to become a more technical striker and has been working with a boxing coach in recent months.
He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight against the 10-1 Stumpf, who is a student of Jeff Curran’s and every bit the prospect that Lapsley is. The 21-year old Stumpf is a good wrestler who is coming off the highest-profile victory of his career after TKO’ing Dom O’Grady at 3:52 of round 2 during Adrenaline MMA’s first-ever show on June 14, 2008.
This fight will be interesting because their wrestling backgrounds could neutralize each other’s attempts to bring the fight to the ground and turn this into a standup affair between two less-than-technical strikers. In the end, Lapsley’s experience and athleticism could prove to be the difference.
Prediction: Lapsley will swing for the fences and connect in the second round, winning via KO.
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Bubba McDaniel
This is a big spot for McDaniel, who is coming off a non-title victory against ICON Sport middleweight champion Kala Kolohe this past June during a non-televised bout at EliteXC’s “Return of the King” event.
McDaniel’s standup is still unproven, but his submission game makes him a very dangerous fighter. Ten of his 12 wins have come via tapout so Shlemenko needs to keep the native Texan on his feet or run the risk of suffering the same fate as Kolohe.
Shlemenko is a talented Russian fighter who is 29-5 in documented fights. However, he has competed in various forms of combat and has recorded even more victories in undocumented bouts. The 24-year old from Siberia has won his last six fights but still has yet to breakthrough as a big-time fighter. He attempted to do so in 2005-2006, as he ventured to Brazil in hopes of asserting himself against higher-profile opponents. However, he went 0-3 in fights against Brazilian icon Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons (twice) and DREAM middleweight Grand Prix finalist Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
Shlemenko is a knockout artist who can finish fights from the clinch. Known for having good cardio, his takedown defense is also considered an asset. It will come in handy tonight against a ground specialist such as McDaniel. Unless McDaniel gets the fight to the floor early, this could be a short fight.
Prediction: Shlemenko via first round TKO.
Rafaello Oliveira vs. Lyle Beerbohm
Oliveira is making his debut for EliteXC after accumulating a 5-0 MMA record while competing on a sporadic basis the past few years. Currently an instructor in Knoxville, Tenn., the native Brazilian once trained in Hawaii with B.J. Penn and still travels out to Hilo on occasion to help Penn prepare for his fights.
Beerbohm is also undefeated at 7-0 and has competed once before for EliteXC in a non-televised bout. A talented wrestler, Beerbohm is not known for having the most exciting fights and has yet to encounter an elite-level opponent.
It will be interesting to see how this opener plays out because the wrestler vs. jiu-jitsu expert matchup doesn’t always lend itself to a lot of action.
Prediction: Beerbohm via unanimous decision.