Photo by Jon Swenson. Used with permission.
It’s been a busy past few weeks for Scott Coker and his fledgling Strikeforce brand. Once thought to have been just a small success story in the San Jose area, the promotion seems to be on the fast track to becoming the legitimate number-two MMA organization in North America after securing a deal to purchase a limited number of assets from ProElite, the parent company of EliteXC.
Under the terms of the deal announced this afternoon, Strikeforce will acquire a select number of fighters contracts, along with the ability to sign additional fighters to Strikeforce deals, as well as a video library of past EliteXC and ShoXC events.
“This is a tremendous development that will bolster the Strikeforce roster and allow us to produce even more competitive matchups between top fighters,” Coker said in a press release today. “Some of these athletes have been on the sidelines for a while now and are eagerly waiting to return to competition. We look forward to providing them with the opportunity to do so in the next few months.”
Interestingly enough, Strikeforce did not acquire the rights to CBS telecasts nor the EliteXC brand name, paving the way for ProElite officials to potentially begin holding live events once again later this year. Still, that doesn’t mean that CBS will be willing to work with the now-shunned brand in the future.
The futures of the currently inactive Rumble on the Rock, Cage Rage, and ICON Sport promotions still remain in doubt. Despite past reports to the contrary, Korea-based Spirit MC was never under the ownership of ProElite as the two sides had only signed a talent-exchange deal two years ago, and had not completed a sale.
Coker ended up outbidding several other suitors looking to purchase some and all of the assets left by ProElite, including Terry Trebilcock. His King of the Cage promotion will reportedly end up staying under the ProElite banner.
Strikeforce VP Mike Afromowitz announced late last night that reports regarding the deal were premature, and sources tell MMA on Tap that the agreement was indeed not finalized until earlier today.
Details regarding which fighters were acquired by Strikeforce in the deal were not available at the time of publication and immediate attempts to contact Coker and Afromowitz were unsuccessful. However former EliteXC stars Robbie Lawler, Jake Shields, Gina Carano, and Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson are said to be in talks with Strikeforce concerning the re-negotiation of their old EliteXC deals.
In a separate deal that has not yet been announced but is expected to be shortly, Sherdog.com is reporting that Strikeforce and Showtime Networks have agreed to a three-year contract that will have the cable channel broadcast 8-10 live events over that time span, and opens the possibility of Strikeforce events eventually being broadcast on CBS anyway in the future.
Tomorrow afternoon, both sides are expected to reveal that the first show under the aforementioned agreement will take place on April 11. According to Five Ounces of Pain, a middleweight bout between Scott Smith and Benji Radach has been signed for the event, which could also include the participation of former UFC middleweight champion Frank Shamrock.
One organization said to have lost out on the Showtime sweepstakes was the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which also failed to come to terms with Showtime’s arch-rival in the premium cable business, HBO, on a television deal last year.
The last event to be broadcast on Showtime was a ShoXC event on October 10 of last year that featured a main event between Dave Herman and Kerry Schall. Since then, the network has focused primarily on its longtime boxing programming while occasionally airing replays of EliteXC events.