(During the global pandemic and the halt of live combat sports, we’ll be running features a little outside the box. In “Cards That Weren’t”, we’ll look at famous [or infamous] fight cards that never took place for one reason or another and discuss what was booked, what may have happened if it took place, and if the fighters ever faced off in the future.)
The Promotion: EliteXC was founded in 2006 and earned acclaim by being the first mixed martial arts promotion to air fights on broadcast TV when they signed with CBS. They were the first major competition to the UFC since the death of PRIDE. Ultimately, the promotion earned its highest highs after signing viral streetfighting legend Kimbo Slice. Unfortunately, that also cost them dearly when he was knocked out by last-minute replacement Seth Petruzelli. In the fallout, questions about its legitimacy, business practices, and dealings were called into question. Partners pulled out, and it shut its doors shortly thereafter before they could put on their Night of Champions event.
But what was that card supposed to look like? What fights were booked for it?
EliteXC Middleweight Championship: Robbie Lawler (c) (16-4) vs. Joey Villasenor (26-6)
Where Did They Stand: Lawler, the MMA wunderkind who made his UFC debut at 20 years of age, piddled around some regionals, most notably ICON Sport in Hawaii, making a cameo in IFL, and PRIDE’s journey to the U.S. in October of 2006, throwing a flying knee 22 seconds into the fight and knocking out *checks notes*, oh, Joey Villasenor! Lawler seemingly found a home in EliteXC, winning their middleweight championship Speaking of Smokin’ Joe, he made his name in King of the Cage, back when that carried some cache. He amassed a 3-0 record in EliteXC leading to his title shot.
How This Would Have Gone: Lawler was devouring men’s souls in that era (much like he was in his Rory-Mac UFC era), only he was doing it very quickly, and very violently. Maybe it would last longer than 22 seconds, but Lawler would have put him away.
Did They End Up Facing Each Other: They did not. After the folding of Elite, Lawler found a home in Strikeforce, then the UFC. Villasenor had some serious miles on him, and he never reached that high in his career again.
Vacant EliteXC Lightweight Championship: Eddie Alvarez (15-1) vs. Nick Diaz (18-7)
Where Did They Stand: Eddie cut his teeth on the Atlantic City regionals, before fighting in the three-ring circus that was BodogFight, before staking his claim out East in Japan for Dream. What else can be said about Nick Diaz that he hasn’t incoherently mumble-rambled about? Like Lawler, he was another prodigy who made his UFC debut at the age of 20. He made a name for himself with his brashness and style, knocking out Robbie Lawler, before upsetting Takanori Gomi in PRIDE’s Las Vegas card, being upset by KJ Noons for the EliteXC lightweight strap, rebounded with two TKOs, and here we are now.
How This Would Have Gone: GODDAMN WOULD THIS HAVE BEEN EPIC!! These two are boxers at heart. Stockton vs. Philly. 209 vs. 267. They would have thrown until someone fell, or quite frankly, more than likely, until one was so dotted up that the doctor had to stop it. Especially over 25 minutes.
Did They End Up Facing Each Other: They did not, and all of us are worse off for it. Eddie was in Bellator when Diaz was doing his thing in the UFC in completely different weight classes. It should be noted, however, that Elite’s lightweight title was a 160lb limit. So, the odds of them fighting even if they were in the same promotion is slim.
Middleweight Bout: Hector Lombard (17-2-1) vs. Scott Smith (14-5)
Where Did They Stand: Lombard was to make his American major league debut after murdering his way through Australia. His only two losses to date were to Akihiro Gono and Gegard Mousasi in PRIDE, both by decision. Smith had earned fame with his highlight-reel comeback knockout over Pete Sell on The Ultimate Fighter, and had fought Robbie Lawler twice for the middleweight title. First, being unable to continue because of an eye poke, and getting finished in the second.
How This Would Have Gone: Smith was a fine brawler who didn’t have a whole hell of a lot much more to offer. It’s very possible that Smith could have slept Lombard, but more than likely, Lombard’s size and strength would have mauled Smith and taken him to the ground with his extensive judo background and finished him there.
Did They End Up Facing Each Other: They did not, as Smith had a long career in Strikeforce, while Lombard went the Bellator route.
Heavyweight Bout: Brett Rogers (8-0) vs. Paul Buentello (26-10)
Where Did They Stand: Boy, Buentello really got around, didn’t he? He was also supposed to fight in Affliction: Trilogy. Buentello was a former UFC heavyweight title challenger who was what he was by that point; a tough meat-and-potato scrapper, a high-level gatekeeper. And that’s exactly what he was to be against Rogers, a hulking 6’5″ heavyweight who had finished all of his fights by first-round knockout.
How This Would Have Gone: Well, Buentello would have been a major step up for Rogers, whose biggest wins to date were James Thompson and Jon Murphy. Rogers wouldn’t walk through Buentello like he’d walk through his previous opponents. I think this would have gone the distance, with two gassed fighters going to the cards.
Did They End Up Facing Each Other: Nope. Rogers went straight into Strikeforce, while Buentello kicked around, even making a return to the UFC.