In a highly anticipated awaited rematch, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler will defend his EliteXC middleweight title against Scott “Hands Of Steel” Smith in the main event of CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS this Saturday, July 26, at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, Calif.
Tickets for the most significant sporting event in the recent history of Stockton start at $35 and can be purchased at the Stockton Arena Box Office (Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Saturday (noon-4 p.m.), by phone at (209) 373-1700 and (866) 373-7088 (toll free) or online at www.stocktontickets.com.
The event is presented by Los Angeles-based ProElite, Inc.’s live fight division, EliteXC. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. PT. The first live fight is at 3:15.
Mixed martial arts fans arriving when the doors open will have the opportunity to meet Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano when they participate in a pre-fight autograph signing just prior to the opening bell. They will sign autographs inside The Stockton Arena from 2:30 p.m. to 3:15.
In other CBS fights, Jake Shields and Nick “The Goat’’ Thompson collide for the vacant EliteXC middleweight title, Nick Diaz faces Thomas “Wildman” Denny and Shayna “The Queen Of Spades’’ Baszler battles Cristiane Cyborg.
Antonio “Big Foot’’ Silva and Justin Eilers will clash for the vacant EliteXC heavyweight title in the main event of the SHOWTIME telecast. In other SHOWTIME fights, Rafael Feijao faces Travais Galbraith and Wilson Reis collides with Bryan Caraway.
Mitch Graham: Good morning, everyone. I won’t take up too much of your time. I want to say from the CBS side of things we’re excited to bring MMA back to CBS for our second prime time broadcast. The first fight that we had back in May was a great success for all of us, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the card that ProElite and EliteXC have put together. And we’re happy we’re able to do this unique programming model with SHOWTIME. So from across the board we’re really excited for a great night of MMA action on both SHOWTIME and CBS.
Doug DeLuca: Hello, everyone. Thank you as always for coming on the call. I’ll make it brief because you guys have now probably heard from the preamble a number of times since we’ve done a number of conference calls. We are really excited about this fight card and all the fighters that are on the card.
We are excited that this is a follow?up to our May 31 event, which did spectacularly in the ratings, and we wanted to keep moving on the momentum of that. We’re also happy that this is a first for us and for MMA where there will be an hour of premium television (SHOWTIME) that goes into two hours of network primetime television.
So those are all great things. But, most importantly are the fight card and the fighters. The headline fight is the Lawler-Smith rematch, which arguably should have been the headline fight of the first CBS show.
It was just a world?class fight, probably the best fight of the year. And (it is) a rematch that everyone wanted to see. We’re excited because we believe we have two of the best 185?pounders in the world in Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith. .
We’re also excited about Jake Shields-Nick Thompson. We believe Jake is one of the top fighters in the world in his weight class. Nick Diaz and Thomas Denny is exciting; and our female MMA fight, Shayna Baszler versus Cris Cyborg, is yet another example of what women’s MMA is and can be and it shows how committed EliteXC is to (women’s fights).
On SHOWTIME, we have a great matchup in Feijao versus Galbraith. Two great jiu?jitsu guys. You will see a lot of strategy and see some great action. They’re both ready to go at it. Wilson Reis is another great fighter and we’re excited about his fight against Bryan Caraway. And, of course, Antonio Silva fighting Justin Eilers for the first EliteXC heavyweight championship is exciting as well. Eilers, a tough opponent.
So we are all excited about this great card and can’t wait for it to get here. We are excited to be going to Stockton and into the brand new Stockton arena. Whoever is attending will see it’s a beautiful arena. It’s going to make great TV.
Robbie Lawler: It feels good to be back on CBS. Feels good to be fighting again and I’m going to get one more workout in and pack my stuff and get ready to go.
Scott Smith: I’m excited about this fight. Let me get three?quarters of the questions out of the way in one shot. My eye and my foot are 100 percent. It was a non issue. I was practicing running a week after the fight so the foot was no problem, no breaks. And the eye was just a little blurry that night. It was fine the next day.
So I’m 100 percent. I’ve been training hard. I’m ready for another exciting fight and glad to be on CBS again. This is an honor.
QUESTION: Cris, what are your thoughts on returning to the cage and this fight?
Cristiane Cyborg: I’m ready to fight. I thank you, EliteXC, for the grand opportunity. I’m ready for it. .
QUESTION: Robbie, you guys didn’t have the ending you wanted the first time around. Having fought him once, does that help in preparing for this fight or would you rather have a fresh match with a new opponent? What’s the better perspective for you?
Robbie Lawler: Really, I don’t care. I look at it as a new fight and I kind of look at it as we’ve never fought before. I’ll be ready to go.
QUESTION: Robbie, as a fighter, it seems like you’ve grown a lot in the last couple of years. Early in your career you seemed to fight with a lot more emotion; now you’ve been a lot more reserved. You seem a lot more technical. Is it just a matter of growing up in the sport?
Robbie Lawler: I don’t know. Just more bouts under my belt and just training a little harder, a little smarter and working on aspects and working on the mental game.
QUESTION: Doug, can you comment on any potential deals with Fox Sports and EliteXC?
Doug DeLuca: We’re not prepared to really talk about anything in detail, but we certainly are talking. You’ll probably see something soon.
QUESTION: Doug, could you comment on Eddie Alvarez’s phenomenal performance over the weekend, despite the unfortunate injury. What are your hopes for him and EliteXC hopefully for the end of this year?
Doug DeLuca: Eddie is an amazing fighter. We knew when we let him go fight in DREAM — we often let our fighters fight in other promotions when it’s good for them, the sport and, obviously, for both promotions — he was going to do well over there. We hold really high hopes for Eddie.
He’s a great fighter and I think he speaks to that new breed of MMA fighter, a guy well?rounded in all aspects of MMA and all disciplines of the sport. And you’re going to start seeing that super athlete emerge more and more. I think Eddie is (one of) the poster child for that. We’re really happy to have him. He’s an exciting fighter and great guy. We’re looking forward to getting him on an EliteXC card soon.
QUESTION: Eddie Alvarez, in the ring after the Dream card ended both he and Joaquin Hansen indicated that they thought they would fight each other next. Is there anything with Eddie contract that would prevent that from happening?
Doug DeLuca: The way his contract works, and the way we work with most of our fighters, is when a fight arises that they really want to take or will help their career, they come and talk to us. We sit down and we see if it’s the right move for everyone.
So, I mean, it’s a potential, but it has not been brought up yet and it’s nothing that we’ve discussed. So I can’t really comment on it specifically. Certainly we’ll entertain all thoughts and all comments.
QUESTION: Robbie, how have you changed or improved as a fighter since you were in the UFC?
Robbie Lawler: I’ve been working on my game like a professional, trying to work on every aspect. And working on my mental where I think about fighting all the time and I guess it made me better.
QUESTION: Is there any particular aspect of your game that you think you’ve improved upon?
Robbie Lawler: Probably just knowing how to relax in the ring. Before, I was just going out there trying to kill the guy. Now I just try to pick him apart and look for my chance instead of just going out there.
QUESTION: Shayna, can you give us some opening comments?
Shayna Baszler: My training’s peaking perfectly. I feel good. I’m training the same as I always have. And I’m really, really pumped to finally be on a really visible card like this. The CBS card is amazing and I think it says a lot about EliteXC to showcase women on both the cards that they’ve had. It says a lot about female fighting and showcasing the talent. I’m honored to be a part of that.
QUESTION: Shayna, what do you know about your opponent?
Shayna Baszler: I know she’s very aggressive and she’s very much the Chute Box template. She’s one of the best that Brazil ?? one of the best fighters that has come out of Brazil. And I dig that. I’m honored to fight her. I’ve always said throughout my career I want to fight the best in the world. And she’s one of the best out of Brazil. So I think that fits right into what I want to do. So I think it’s going to be a great fight.
QUESTION: When asked if he has any interest in setting up any female divisions in the UFC, Dana White politely questioned the depth of talent. What is your response to that?
Shayna Baszler: I don’t care what Dana White has to say. If he wants to question the depth of talent; that is just going to give companies like EliteXC one more thing to tap into that he’s not. He wants to question the depth of the female division, but every fight, every female fight that ProElite has put on has been a showcase of women’s talent and has been “fight of the night” type material. If he wants to give that avenue to others to pursue, then, fine. The more the merrier. I don’t care. I just want to fight the best. I don’t know, if he wants to question that, then I’d question the talent of his heavyweight division.
Cristiane Cyborg: I’d love to fight Dana White to show him how tough women are.
QUESTION: Shayna, are you familiar with the U.S. Olympic athletes and would you be interested in seeing them come into mixed martial arts?
Shayna Baszler: I follow it a little bit. I’m just familiar just because the Olympic year’s coming up and I like to watch that sort of thing. I say the more talented, combative females we get, the merrier. I would love to see people of Olympic?caliber talent coming in and showcasing (their skills) in MMA. I’m totally down with that.
Cristiane Cyborg: I know to go to the Olympics they have to be the best at what they do (their respective disciplines). But to fight in MMA, they need to know a little bit of everything. So maybe in the future they’ll be able to fight MMA.
QUESTION: For Cristiane and Shayna. With Gina Carano being on the last CBS card beating Kaitlin Young and some people feeling her win was tainted, how do you feel about this opportunity to be the next face of women on the mat?
Shayna Baszler: I don’t want to be any next anything but the next Shayna Baszler of MMA. I think Gina is doing her thing and it’s awesome. And it’s opened up a lot of opportunities for people like me.
But I want people to know who Shayna Baszler is based on me and not necessarily based on Gina. So I think it’s a great ?? like I said before, they’re showcasing other females on CBS now. So people are going to know other names besides Gina really soon. I think that’s awesome. So, I guess what I am saying is that rather than like replacing and being the next face of women’s MMA, I want to be another face.
Cristiane Cyborg: I echo Shayna’s comments and I’d also like to say it’s an honor and pleasure to be a part of it and an additional female fighter in MMA and the female face of the Chute Box Academy.
QUESTION: Robbie, did you want to get a rematch right away?
Scott Smith: Yeah, definitely, and the fact they told me in the ring before they even announced the decision, ‘don’t worry, you guys will do it again.’ I kind of knew it was coming. I’m glad neither of us had another fight in between. There’s always a chance of injury and this is some unfinished business we have to take care of. And I don’t want to take the chance of it not happening.
So I’m really glad it is happening as soon as it is. I didn’t think it would be as quick. But I figured it would be both of our next fights.
QUESTION: Scott, time-wise, is the turnaround good for you?
Scott Smith: It’s perfect for me. It doesn’t give me a chance to get fat and out of shape. I took about a week off of training, just to make sure the foot was fine. I started running a week later and then a week after that I started back to my Muay Thai and grappling. I never had a chance to get in shape. Instead of starting my training camp out by getting into shape – and usually I take a couple weeks to get into shape — I’m starting out my camp by learning and staying in shape. So I’ll be a better fighter this time now.
QUESTION: Doug, there’s been talk that it’s going to be difficult for Saturday’s event to draw the type of ratings that the first EliteXC event did — just because there was so much marketing for that event. What do you expect in terms of ratings and what would it take for you to deem it a success?
Doug DeLuca: We certainly are managing all of our expectations. It is summer. And we did have a number of good PR items going for us on the first event. It was the first event on primetime network television. That alone drummed up a huge amount of press for the event and a lot of people were interested in seeing.
But, look, I’m confident in our fight card. I’m confident in mixed martial arts and I’m confident at what we can do at EliteXC in terms of producing events and our PR team is second to none. So we’ve got a lot of press for this event as well.
We understand the numbers might not be as big as the first time, but (still) we’re all expecting to do some good numbers. I really couldn’t tell you what a success is, or what a success isn’t. I’m just looking forward to putting on the best event possible and getting as many people out to watch it as we can get.
QUESTION: Last week you mentioned the possibility of a swing bout being added to the card. Have you guys gone through with that?
Doug DeLuca: We’re definitely adding a swing bout to the card. We’re still working on it. In a bout that we thought we might do, one of the fighters got hurt. We should have something in the next day or so.
QUESTION: Doug, how big is the Stockton Arena and how many tickets are sold so far?
Doug DeLuca: The Stockton Arena fits 10,000 fully built out. I think we have it scaled for either 7500 or 8,000. And we’re definitely well up over half sold already and that was as of the weekend. I know we picked up a full head of steam on Monday. I’m not sure where the exact ticket sales are, but we’re fully expecting it to be completely full.
QUESTION: Doug, one of the interesting things about the first show is how (the number) of people from start to finish gained — your start number was decent but your finish number was tremendous. What do you attribute that to and do you think it’s possible to duplicate that? Do you think it was because of the mystic of Kimbo or do you think that’s because of MMA or a combo?
Doug DeLuca: I think first and foremost speaks to MMA. I mean, it’s something I’ve said a lot: Anyone who gives this sport a chance and watches it with an open mind will be drawn in and will become a fan. So I think a lot of what happened is you have a lot of people that were interested on the periphery that came in, watched, and then the next thing is they just see one great fight after great fight after great fight. What are you going to do? Are you going to turn away when it gets better and better? So, first and foremost, it had to do with the sport just being a great sport that draws people in. Secondly, it had to do with the fights; the fights kept getting better and better, and it will be the same case with this fight card.
But, you (know) some people were interested to see what Kimbo would do. Those people tuned in as well. If you watch the viewing patterns, people came and the momentum just kept building and building and building and nobody left. So I think it speaks volumes to the fighters; it speaks volumes to the sport.
QUESTION: Is KJ Noons going to be in the arena and is there going to be any kind of footage shown of what happened in Hawaii with KJ and Diaz as part of the package of the Diaz fight?
Doug DeLuca: What happened in the cage in Hawaii is not something that ProElite or EliteXC is proud of. That’s not what the sport’s about. I mean, the one thing that impresses me on a daily basis, and I never cease to be impressed, is the sportsmanship of these athletes. Just the respect and discipline of these guys the way they care for each other. This is a community here and it’s not something that we’re looking to underline what happened there. That was an unfortunate circumstance.
There was a little bad blood, and I’m sure those two are going to get a chance to work that out in the cage down the road. I don’t know if KJ is coming, but (you won’t be) seeing the melee in the cage in Hawaii.
QUESTION: After this show, what dates does EliteXC have coming up on the schedule so far?
Doug DeLuca: There’s an Aug. 15 fight card on SHOWTIME, a ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series event from the Table Mountain Casino (at Friant, Calif.).
(Here’s) a bit of a tip. You’ll see an EliteXC show in September. We’ll announce that fully I believe on Saturday. And, then, you’re probably going to see another CBS show down the road.
QUESTION: Shayna, if you win this fight, who do you want to fight? Would you like to be in the first women’s EliteXC title fight if and when that happens against, maybe, Gina Carano?
Shayna Baszler: Obviously that’s the goal. Every fighter in whatever organization they’re fighting in, their goal should be to be the champion. And clearly Gina’s put on the fights to show she’s at the top of the division. I think I’ve done the same. So, that’s obviously something I’m shooting for. I want to be the champ. I want a chance to show that I can be the champ. Yeah, I would love that opportunity.
QUESTION: Shayna, what do you think your advantages are going into this fight?
Shayna Baszler: I think my experience is probably my biggest advantage. I’ve fought the top women in the world and I’ve been pushed to my limits and I’ve been put in bad situations. So I know how to handle myself there. I don’t know that anyone has really come back at Cris and really fought back with her the way that people … some of the fights I’ve had have just been wars against the best in the world.
QUESTION: Cris, do you treat this fight as title eliminator, the winner maybe fighting Gina Carano down the road for the first?ever EliteXC women’s title?
Cristiane Cyborg: Absolutely I see this fight as a title eliminator. And while I don’t think about anything beyond the upcoming fight with an opponent as qualified as Shayna, I believe anyone — be it myself or Shayna — that wins this fight, should be in a position to challenge Gina for the much deserved title shot.
QUESTION: What do you feel your advantages are going in against Shayna?
Cristiane Cyborg: In addition to my experience in fighting some of the toughest women in the world in Brazil, I also come from one of the most famous fight camps in the world, namely Chute Box. Under the direction of my (great coaches), I feel ?? and this is all with all due respect to Shayna’s training regimen — I come from a camp and a disciplined group of training partners that are second to none.
QUESTION: Robbie, do you look at this as unfinished business. After the first fight, what were you thinking?
Robbie Lawler: Really I haven’t thought about that fight for a long time. I’ve just been focusing on the future. But at the time I just thought, oh, (crap), they’re going to end it right now. For some reason, I just knew the way the doctors were acting that they wanted to stop it because of a cut on my head that wasn’t even dripping. And I was like, you’re not stopping this. So, as soon as the doctor came in, I don’t know, I just didn’t think it was going to last.
QUESTION: In looking at the cards at the time, there were two even and I think you were slightly ahead on one. Do you feel that was the way it went?
Robbie Lawler: Really, I’m not focusing on that anymore. I’m focusing on this next fight. And I don’t care how that last one went. I just need to go out there and get the job done on Saturday.
QUESTION: Scott’s been quoted as saying he made a lot of mistakes and he can certainly improve on things. Do you feel like you can improve or will what you brought last time get the job done?
Robbie Lawler: There’s always room to improve. So every day I’m trying to improve. Every day I’m trying to get better. And I believe every mixed martial artist is trying to do the same. And, yeah, I needed to improve and I think I can change some things.
QUESTION: Robbie, do you notice after fighting on CBS you get a different reaction; is there more response from people than your previous fights?
Robbie Lawler: I don’t really do much except for training and hang out at home.
QUESTION: But you go into the local store and somebody goes, hey, I saw you on CBS?
Robbie Lawler: Yeah, a little bit. But I don’t go out that much.
QUESTION: Scott, have you taken some steps to make yourself better for this one?
Scott Smith: Definitely. I started fighting full time about two years ago. And ever since then I’ve improved every day and every fight as a fighter. And I made some big mistakes in that fight. Obviously in the first round of the last fight Robbie kicked my butt. And I felt throughout the fight I improved a little bit. And I’m just trying to keep that going and be ready for Saturday night as a different better fighter.
QUESTION: Scott, not only are you bringing your A game but you’re bringing some folks with you, a little closer to home, right?
Scott Smith: Yeah, my last three fights have been in New Jersey, Miami and Ireland. My family and friends haven’t had a chance to go. I have very big local support here and I’m excited that everybody gets to make it out to this fight. It’s going to be big.
QUESTION: Scott, do you notice people reacting to you differently that you’ve been on CBS?
Scott Smith: Yeah, definitely. Before everybody just knew me because of my big knockout in UFC with Pete Sell. Now everybody is talking about how great a show Lawler and I put on last time. And I think that’s great. That just shows there’s going to be a lot of people tuning in to watch a great rematch.
QUESTION: Doug, most of the businesses use the Pay?Per?View business model. Do you see the network deal with CBS as a jumping?off point to Pay?Per?View to monetize the promotion? And, if so, what kind of time frame did you have?
Doug DeLuca: Absolutely, the Pay?Per?View model is the goal for most people in this sport. So, yes, it’s our goal, too. The exact plan is broadcast television drives the Pay?Per?View. It builds stars. SHOWTIME to CBS. CBS to Pay?Per?View. Build stars, build the interest in the stars, let people know even more that these fighters – the guys and gals — are people and they have real stories and make people care about them and drive the Pay?Per?View. So that’s absolutely the goal. As far as timing goes, you’ll probably see a Pay?Per?View from us early in ’09.
QUESTION: Are there any negotiations or conversations with other parties about doing a co?promotion?
Doug DeLuca: You know, we speak to everybody probably except one competitor in the sport. We speak to everybody. We’re friendly with all the other promotions. We’ve all talked about doing co?promotions.
We’ve done two co?promotions with Strikeforce. We will definitely do more. Like I said, we talk to everyone. There’s nothing definitive in the works. We’ve talked to DREAM about doing a co?promote in Japan. We’ve co?promoted with FEG when we did that fight card at the (Los Angeles) Coliseum last year.
So we’re no stranger to good promoting and it’s something we really like to do. I think it’s good for the sport. It brings all the organizations together as a community and it gives the fans an opportunity, hopefully, to see the world’s best fights and the world’s best fighters. So we’re up for it.
QUESTION: Doug, would you agree that it seems like you had an excellent piece of real estate as far as the network deal that got published before.
Doug DeLuca: We’re really very happy with our partners at CBS and SHOWTIME and they’re supportive of it and it couldn’t be a better thing for the sport than to get big eyeballs, a lot of eyeballs, watching and learning about it and caring about it.
Shayna Baszler: I want to thank everybody for tuning in and being so interested in the female fights that EliteXC puts on. I think it says a lot to people along the lines of Dana White that are doubtful of women’s MMA, that it’s a draw and we have talent and we put on fights that people talk about for a long time.
Cristiane Cyborg: I wish to thank all organizations involved, obviously ProElite and EliteXC, and people that supported this from day one. I also wish to thank Shayna for accepting this fight. It’s an honor not only to be on TV in America but to be fighting an opponent of Shayna Baszler’s caliber. And with that in mind I look forward to an incredible event on Saturday. I appreciate the opportunity to put the place of female Chute Box on the map in the United States if not the world.
Scott Smith: I want to thank everybody for supporting this. It’s going to be a great card. I am excited to get in there and fight again. Encourage people to come out and watch the fights in Stockton. It’s a great fight town. I’ve watched fights in that arena. It’s a great arena. There’s going to be fireworks that night. If they can’t make it to the arena, encourage everybody to tune into CBS to watch another great card.
Robbie Lawler: I’m going to go out and fight my hardest. I’ve been training pretty hard for this fight and I’ll give it my all and that’s what I plan on doing. Tune into CBS or come to the show. Peace.
Doug DeLuca: I want to thank Robbie and Scott. I mean, these guys are warriors, competitors at the highest level. You fought your hearts out the last time. I, personally, and ProElite really appreciate you guys getting back in there and doing it again. I wish you guys the best of luck and I want you to come out healthy on the other side and just have a great fight and enjoy and thank you again.
To Shayna and to Cris, you put a lot on your shoulders when you say you’re going to support and push forward female MMA, women’s MMA, and you are both doing a great job of carrying that torch. And we appreciate that as well.
Shayna, you answered the questions perfectly about why the sport of women’s MMA is growing and should grow. And I loved everything you said. And I agree wholeheartedly. If you look at the fights, well, the fights speak for themselves. If you look at the athletes and the competitors, they speak for themselves. So good luck to both of you guys and thank you for fighting.
For all the press, thank you for your interest and thanks for writing about us. And, like Scott said, tell everybody to either come out and watch or watch on SHOWTIME and watch on CBS. It’s going to be a great night of fights. Thank you.
Mitch Graham: I just want to sort of reiterate what Doug said. It takes a lot of people to put this show on and thanks to everyone so much for all your support. We’re very excited for this Saturday night and that’s it. That’s about all we can say.