On Monday, I went to the EliteXC/CBS press conference and autograph signing. For those of you who ignore Fightlinker’s constant props to me, I’m Esther, a photographer for CombatLifestyle.com. Here’s a recap of my observations at the presser in the morning.
I love real press conferences. By real, I mean ones held by established media companies, in this case, CBS. It is tightly scheduled and fully catered. Everyone, even the fighters, gather around the pastries and juices. There are a lot of mainstream media in attendance.
Before the panels, EliteXC hosts a rules and basic techniques demonstration with Frank Shamrock as MC and Nick Diaz and Jake Shields doing the moves. At first, Frank forgets Jake Shields’ name, announcing him, “Oh no, I forgot your name, I’ve been up since 5 am and didn’t really sleep last night, I’m really sorry.” Diaz and Shields then entertain both the media and Frank Shamrock with their jiu jitsu skills.
Their grappling had the Legend saying “Whoa, I don’t even know what that is,” a few times.
Next, Kimbo hits pads with his trainer, Randy Khatami.
Following the open workouts, Chairman of ProElite Inc., Doug DeLuca, Sr. Executive VP for CBS Primetime, Kelly Kahl, and Gary Shaw field questions about ratings expectations and the impact of MMA on network television.
After that, we join the fighters on hand for a panel with Gary Shaw. Scott Smith says his fight with Robbie Lawler will be highlight reel material. Robbie Lawler notes the most difficult part of training for this fight on CBS is finding newer, bigger sponsors. Phil Baroni of course, dispenses his usual fight hype, but accuses Joey VillaseÃ±or of missing the presser due to vaginitis. Phil asks Gina if she’s got any vaginal cream in her purse. The whole panel is in tears. I have never seen Robbie Lawler laugh so much. Phil interrupts Gina Carano’s turn later to let the media know that she has a killer triangle choke, and the whole panel breaks out in chuckles. Gina hits Phil with her microphone.
Kimbo gives monosyllabic answers to everyone, even Loretta Hunt from Sherdog, who appears frustrated yet amused by his refusal to discuss anything. Phil Baroni answers a few questions for Kimbo and steals the show, which Kimbo is fine with, since he’s not saying much beyond “Yeah,” and “Nah.” Nick Diaz speaks briefly (after being singled out by Gary for being quite the talker) on his recent win in DREAM. Jake Shields addresses being off the June 14th card in Honolulu due to Drew Fickett’s injury but hopes it will be rescheduled for September.
Free for all
Crews set up all over the soundstage to get their time with each of the fighters. Alison Haislip from G4’s Attack of the Show interviews Jake and Nick in the cage. Upon asking about techniques, Jake shows her a rear naked choke, putting his leg hooks in and getting Alison woozy before letting go. Then Nick tries to bend her arm back (at this point I worry he might accidentally hurt her). Lucky for her and Nick, Alison has amazing bendy elbows that go past straight easily. To finish the piece, Jake slams her onto the canvas.
Because it is mostly mainstream media with only a handful of MMA sites at this presser, few people interview Nate Diaz who is here supporting his brother. Nate messes with mainstream reporters and ask if they want to interview him. They shrug uncomfortably, squeaking, “Uh, we weren’t told to?” while looking aside to producers whispering, “Who is this?” Best of all, during Nick’s interviews, Nate stands behind the cameraman, making faces and trying to steer Nick off his monologues, to no avail.
Later on, I see Scott Smith in the cage with a buxom blonde reporter from CBS and she requests to be taken down as well. Smith responds by swiftly slamming her to the canvas, she lets out a scream that is sure to be in the background of other interviews being conducted. The cameraman misses the shot. Smith and reporter repeat, but this time the reporter says “gently please!” and Smith obliges, laying her to the canvas softly as if it were a mossy forest floor and they were in some fantasy flick where she’s about to experience sweet love with this tanned muscle man.
While I’m looking for my next shot, I interrupt a conversation between ProElite.com employee, Marilyn Naanos and announcer Mauro Ranallo, right when Marilyn says “I hate you.” Mauro asks me if all Asian women are this feisty, I shrug. To which Marilyn repeats, “I hate you.”
I pack up to go to lunch with the fighters and EliteXC matchmakers. Someone from an MMA website, I’m sorry to say I don’t know which, sets up to interview Phil Baroni, but he forgets to press record. Kid doesn’t know it because he’s interviewing Baroni and no one is operating the video camera. Baroni gives him a long interview too, at least five minutes. Several EliteXC crewmembers pass by, all noticing the same error – but no one has the heart to tell the interviewer. I wonder what swearing will ensue when the reporter gets home and checks his tape.
Check back for Part 2: Autograph Signing at Best Buy – Gina Carano Makes Babies Cry