After some initial confusion, a second scheduled event from the reincarnated ProElite organization began to take shape this week with a flurry of fight bookings reported by multiple sites.
Early rumors had Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski headed for their fourth meeting on Nov. 5 in Moline, Ill., but now it's believed Pedro Rizzo will meet Sylvia. Meanwhile, Arlovski will fight the prolific Travis Fulton. Lightweight prospect Reagan Penn and well-known female fighter Tara LaRossa are both also scheduled to appear.
In other words, just as you might expect from a fledgling, second-tier organization, it’s sort of a mixed bag. Unfortunately, these bouts don’t seem to represent a step forward for the company after a fairly successful August debut.
For the second consecutive time since its purchase by the Stratus Media Group earlier this year, ProElite appears to be relying heavily on a bevy of UFC retreads to carry the top part of its card. That’s fine for a small-time independent promotion, but it’s probably not the right approach if ProElite wants to quickly ascend to the level the Bellators or even the UFCs of the world.
This seems doubly true when you consider that this latest foursome of old school vets is even less relevant than guys like Joe Riggs, Kendall Grove and Drew McFedries, who ProElite tabbed for its first show.
Rizzo, after all, is 37 and hasn’t fought since he defeated Ken Shamrock in July 2010. He talked wistfully of a UFC return during UFC: Rio, but remains some 10 years removed from his fighting prime. For his part, Sylvia has been more active, but hasn’t even made the 265-pound heavyweight limit since he got knocked out by Fedor Emelianenko in 2008. It’s pretty hard to stay on the tips of fans’ tongues when you’re not fighting in a division they recognize.
After losses in four of his last five fights, we all know the story on Arlovski at this point. And Travis Fulton? He’s, well, Travis Fulton. His official record is currently listed at 247-48-10. Enough said.
If ProElite wants to be seen as an up-and-comer on the MMA scene, it might be better off trying to nurture its own stars in the mold of Bellator and the money it spends on recognizable names should go to athletes in their primes -- guys like Nate Marquardt and Paul Daley -- instead of investing in people who feel like they’re fast approaching the end of their careers.
At the very least, the matchups should be compelling. Not sure if Sylvia versus Rizzo and Arlovski versus Fulton quite fit that bill, either.
Not that all the news here is negative for ProElite. There has been talk that the promotion might organize an eight-man tournament of mostly unknown heavyweights, which could be interesting if it’s promoted properly. The company also appears to have a couple of good young fighters in Penn and heavyweight Mark Ellis and reports say organizational brass are talking to cable channels about the possibility of putting this second event on TV. All the more reason to create an interesting card.
For a promotion that was dead in the water this time last year, ProElite has already accomplished a lot. You just have to wonder how bright the company’s future will be so long as it continues to invest in stars of the past.