It’s official – ProElite 2: Big Guns was the worst event I’ve sat through this year.
That may seem harsh, but I suspect I’m not the only one who thought so.
Consider the fact that even the normally hyper-enthusiastic commentator Michael Schiavello was struggling to hype up the lack of action on-screen during the live HDNet broadcast, describing it as, “A cure for insomnia,”, while dejected ProElite promotor T Jay Thompson simply wrote on Twitter, “Never again.”
The ProElite organization, which is attempting to rise from the ashes of the failed EliteXC promotion, took a big gamble by building virtually an entire fight card around the heavyweight division and it didn’t pay off.
On paper it sounds like a good idea – people are naturally drawn to watching the big men battle it out. The problem is that it’s a division that’s notoriously lacking in quality, with even the UFC struggling to fill out their ranks with acceptable levels of talent while the likes of Strikeforce and Bellator have snapped up much of those remaining.
That left ProElite scraping the bottom of the barrel for their heavyweight tournament which kicked off last night’s show and resulted in an forgettable series of sluggish, sub-par fights.
Most painful for the promotion was the fact that potential diamond in the rough, highly touted former NCAA wrestling champion Mark Ellis, who they had hoped to build into a star, delivered the worst performance of the night (which is really saying something), looking incredibly gun-shy, ill-at-ease and out-of-his depth despite his past achievements.
Outwith the grand-prix the promotion had opted to also fill both the main and co-main event slots with heavyweights, hoping that familiar names from the UFC’s past – namely Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski would put on a show for the fans.
They did anything but.
In fairness Arlovski did provide a highlight reel moment when he KO’d veteran Travis Fulton with a picture perfect head kick KO in the final second of the third round, but the proceeding 14 minutes and 58 seconds had been almost completely and utterly devoid of action with the commentary team astutely pointing out that the former UFC star was “fighting not to lose.”
Meanwhile in the main event Sylvia had apparently mistaken this for the Ultimate Hugging Championships as he clinched Andreas Kraniotakes against the cage for three rounds while boos rang out from the small crowd in attendance.
To add insult to injury, the only non-heavyweight fight of the night also backfired.
Reagan Penn, brother of UFC legend BJ Penn was another up and comer that ProElite had high hopes for, but he also failed to deliver on the night, gassing badly in the second round and struggling just to stand in the third which allowed his opponent, a young fighter named Evan Cutts who’s performance was one of the evening’s only bright spots, to completely dominate him.
All in all there was very little ProElite can salvage from this event, and an already difficult challenge rising to prominence in the overbearing shadow of the UFC has just been made all the more difficult.