World-class boxing promoter Gary Shaw, president of EliteXC Live Events Division, watches on as MMA pioneers Renzo Gracie (L) and Frank Shamrock pose for the cameras at Thursday’s press conference in Hollywood. Photo: Tom Casino/EliteXC
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - At a jam-packed press conference Thursday at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Showtime and Pro-Elite, Inc., officially announced the formation of Elite Xtreme Combat (EliteXC). Beginning Feb. 10, 2007, Los Angeles-based EliteXC will exploit the growing phenomenon of mixed martial arts by staging world-class live events on Showtime.
Legends Frank Shamrock, regarded by many to be the first true mixed martial artist in combat sports, and Renzo Gracie, a prominent member of the most famous family in martial arts, will make history when they collide in the featured attraction on Showtime at the Desoto Civic Center in Mississippi. Their match will mark the first time an MMA event has aired live on premium television.
Among the speakers at Thursday’s historic press conference were Ken Hershman, Senior Vice President/General Manager Sports & Event Programming, Showtime Networks, Inc.; Doug DeLuca, Chief Executive Officer of Pro-Elite Inc.; Gary Shaw, President of EliteXC Live Events division and Kelly Perdew, the “Apprentice 2’’ winner who is President of EliteXC.com.
It was announced Thursday that former wrestling superstar, (Bill) Goldberg, and enormously popular television personality, Mario Lopez, would be part of the announcing team. It also was announced that Feb. 10 undercard bouts not televised on Showtime would be streamed live at http://www.EliteXC.com.
Below are selected quotes from Thursday’s press conference. To view the conference in its entirety, please go to EliteXC.com.
“This is an exciting time for the sporting world. Twelve years young, MMA has matured and is ready to go to the next level. I am pleased to be working with Showtime, which is making an unprecedented move for a premium TV network. We promise to present the best fights in an entertaining way.”
“ProElite has three main goals: (1) take care of fighters, (2) deliver to the fans and (3) help the sport grow.
“Shamrock and Gracie best embodies what EliteXC stands for. They are both champion fighters who have been around long enough to know not only where the sport came from, but most importantly, where it is going.’’
“This is a very exciting moment for Showtime Sports as we move beyond boxing for the first time.
“I want to thank the very bright and dedicated team at EliteXC for their tireless effort in pulling this together. There is no better way to kick off this series on Showtime than with a headline fight between two pioneers in mixed martial arts, Shamrock and Gracie. Personally, I am really looking forward to Feb. 10. And on behalf of the network, we are excited to begin delivering these high-energy, explosive events to our subscribers. Thank you for your support and tune in.”
“Renzo is the Gracie that I respect the most. This is the Gracie I have always wanted to fight. Come Feb. 10, it will be our moment (addressing Gracie). I always want to fight tough opponents. I want to fight guys who think they are tougher then me, so we can prove who the best is in the world.
“I want to thank Gracie for this fight. I want to thank the team at EliteXC and Showtime for taking a chance. I have always taken a lot of chances in life; some have worked out well and others not so well. I would like to thank all those taking a chance on me now. I will not let them down.
“On Feb. 10, you will see me bear my soul. And for those of you who have seen my fights, you know that I always bear my soul in the cage. And it is a very angry and violent soul.’’
“It is a great pleasure for me to be part of such a great and history-making event.
“When they (EliteXC) told me the whole plan for this organization and for this event, I could not say no. What they didn’t know was that I would take this fight for free. But they are paying me for it. It is a great honor to be fighting Frank. I was afraid he was going to wait until I was too old to beat him.
“I believe that a fighter is measured by who they fight, and Frank Shamrock has fought the best.
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