Later this month, EliteXC — arguably the second top mixed-martial-arts promotion behind the Ultimate Fighting Championship — will beat all its competition to live U.S. network television when it hosts its May 31 event on CBS.
However, the landmark event isn't void of controversy.This past week, CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone expressed his disappointed that CEO Les Moonves decided to air "ultimate fighting" on the network's airwaves — even calling it "socially irresponsible."
In addition to the lack of internal support, CBS and EliteXC could face challenges in marketing its fighters. Headliner Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson surely looks menacing, but he's actually a well-spoken and respectful individual. However, his background as an Internet backyard brawler and bodyguard for a pornography company could present challenges.
So, too, could a fight between Gina Carano and Kaitlin Young. The two talented and attractive fighters could either legitimize women's MMA — or turn off traditionalists who can't stand seeing women punching each other.
Finally, EliteXC's financial troubles are no secret, and the organization is (literally) banking on the debut show being a hit. Low ratings or a sub-par event could spell disaster.
Regardless, though, "EliteXC: PRIMETIME" will be the most-watched MMA event in North American history. Converting even a fraction of the casual viewers to fanatics could mean big things for an organization in desperate need of a push.