Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Mixed martial arts returns to CBS Saturday night

(Credit: Watchdog)

Mixed martial arts is back! On CBS! Saturday night!

This time, though, the hype that accompanied the first MMA card on a major broadcast network back in May is absent, as is YouTube sensation Kimbo Slice, who helped attract much of the attention for that card.

The EliteXC promotion will come from Stockton, Calif., again with Gus Johnson on play-by-play. I asked Gus recently whether this show would be a test of whether the sport can retain whatever fans it might have gained two months ago.

"Kimbo is a huge attraction all over the country and world,'' he said. "I think this is going to be a show that really caters to the hard core MMA fan."

Still, he added, "We're going to get an opportunity to see if people stick around. I think they will. I think they’ll see a different kind of show."

The May show turned off some casual fans because of its brutality. That is part of the sport. But one thing that can and will be corrected - according to organizers - is tightening up the telecast to emphasize action rather than between-fights fluff.

"I got great feedback," Johnson said of the May show. "I had guys come to me and say, 'I didn’t like that mixed martial arts stuff, but I sat there with my entire family and it was barbaric, it was bloody, but for some reason we like it. We saw the brilliance of it, and the genius of it."'

The MMA business still is in the shaking-out period other than powerful and profitable UFC.

The troubled IFL is on its way out. Its stellar p.r. man, Joe Favorito, who used to handle the media for the Knicks, will be leaving the company Thursday.

At least Joe's blog still is on the WatchDog blog roll.

Enjoy that and other blog roll offerings. I'm done for the week.

Tags: mma

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