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Strikeforce Finalizes ProElite Limited Asset Purchase, April 11 Event (Update III)

Strikeforce LogoWhen Strikeforce exec Mike Afromowitz said the potential deal to acquire ProElite’s assets was complicated, he wasn’t kidding.

News that Strikeforce has completed a deal to acquire limited ProElite assets is breaking all over the internet, and there’s quite a bit to sort through and digest. Josh Gross with seems to have the most comprehensive report of the details.

The deal with Strikeforce includes the following elements:

With Strikeforce:

  • Strikeforce and ProElite agree to a limited asset purchase, including some fighter contracts and options for additional fighter contracts
  • Strikeforce obtains library footage for EliteXC events
  • Strikeforce obtains licensing of the ShoXC brand name

With CBS:

  • Paid off debt to CBS/Showtime
  • Showtime remains a partner with ProElite, same ownership stake

Moving forward ProElite will not dissolve, as was previously expected. The company will continue promote MMA events, primarily under the King of the Cage brand, though it still owns the rights to EliteXC-branded events. ProElite has a television deal with Fox Sports that needs renegotiating for previously-taped fights. It has yet to be determined what it will do with other promotional brands.

Dave Meltzer (via Bloody Elbow) has the answers to the big questions, such as which fighters’ contracts were acquired and the CBS/Showtime details. Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Contracts acquired of all the “key” EliteXC fighters, including Kimbo Slice, Gina Carano, Robbie Lawler, Jake Shields, and Nick Diaz.
  • New deals have been negotiated with Showtime and CBS. 12 events a year on Showtime, including shows in big arenas with big names, and smaller shows. (Sounds similar to EliteXC Showtime events and ShoXC events). Believed there will be quarterly CBS events.
  • First event will be April 11 at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, California, on Showtime headlined by Frank Shamrock vs. TBD. Scott Smith vs. Benji Radach and Josh Thomson vs. TBD will be on the card.
  • Strikeforce will continue taped “Strikeforce on NBC” programming.
  • Announcement expected next week regarding championship situation.
  • No pay-per-view in the short-term, but it is a long-term plan.

Scott Coker had this to say in the official press release.

“This is a tremendous development that will bolster the Strikeforce® roster and allow us to produce even more competitive matchups between top fighters,” said Scott Coker, Founder and CEO of Strikeforce®. “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.”

Needless to say, this is incredible news. Finally, there is another mixed martial arts promotion that will be run by competent individuals. There really couldn’t be a better case scenario than Scott Coker and Strikeforce acquiring ProElite. They have a proven track record of success on the regional level, have proven they understand the business, and while it remains to be seen if they can replicate that success on the national level, I think it’s safe to say if anyone can do it, they can.

Also, let’s not forget about the individuals who were affected the most by the gross mismanagement of ProElite—the fighters. Now, they can finally back to work and start earning paychecks again.

Just awesome news. I suppose it’s time to call the cable company and resubscribe to Showtime.

[UPDATE 2/5/09 6:21PM ET] – It appears there may be some confusion regarding which fighters have been acquired. BE’s Michael Rome is reporting that some of the fighters are choosing to renegotiate and/or look elsewhere.

Among those that are not waiving rights to renegotiate are fighters that Zuffa is interested in. Zuffa only has direct interest in a small number of fighters that were contracted to ProElite. These fighters include Gina Carano, Jake Shields, and Robbie Lawler. I can confirm that Robbie Lawler is actually negotiating with Strikeforce, which means he is not a part of the group that chose to waive its rights. I have no confirmation on the intentions of Shields or Carano, but it is almost certain that Carano has not waived rights to renegotiate or look elsewhere. Zuffa interest in Gina is higher than ever now, and her contract at ProElite was outrageously low considering her value.

Apparently, the situation is still very “complicated” and those issues will be addressed in a conference call next week. I guess it couldn’t be that easy.

[UPDATE 2/5/09 7:30PM ET] – Looks like more confusion. This time regarding the Showtime deal. 8-10 live events over 36 months Sherdog claims, although they may just be talking about the bigger shows. Also information supporting Rome’s report about the contracts. Apparently, just because Strikeforce “acquired” them doesn’t mean they don’t have to renegotiate.

The much-coveted deal, which has been quietly negotiated since December, proposes 8 to 10 live events from the popular San Jose, Calif., promotion in the next 36 months, insiders have told The agreement also opens the door for four primetime specials on CBS, which owns the Showtime channels and had much success with MMA though EliteXC in a Saturday night primetime slot.

EliteXC’s marquee fighters, like Carano, Ferguson and former EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler among others, are being approached by Strikeforce to re-negotiate contracts with Pro Elite that have been deemed non-transferrable without time-consuming litigation.

Lawler’s manager, Monte Cox, would not confirm or deny his client’s consideration for the high-profile position, and it looks positive that Lawler will re-sign a fresh contract with Strikeforce.

Carano, who was voted among Yahoo’s Top-10 Women of the Year alongside Hilary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, is also said to be in renegotiations with Strikeforce.

[UPDATE 2/5/09 11:00PM ET] – Dave Meltzer has a few more details in his latest Yahoo article.

  • Eddie Alvarez was named as one of the fighters in the deal. It’s unclear if he’ll have to renegotiate. Not to mention, he had an unique deal as it was. Plus, Eddie also has his deal with Bellator and possibly a fight remaining on his DREAM contract if I remember correctly, but don’t hold me to that. Needless to say, he’s not having a hard time finding fights. I will say they need to do everything they can to get him on CBS. He’s a mainstream star waiting to happen.
  • Antonio Silva was not part of the deal due to his steroid suspension/possible license revocation situation.
  • Carano wants Cyborg ASAP, however Coker will not commit to how soon they’ll make it. Hopefully, they don’t wait till pay-per-view.
  • Coker hopes to book Josh Thomson against KJ Noons for the April 11 event.
  • Strikeforce remains a private company owned by himself and Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment.
  • If it wasn’t clear already, the promotion will use the Strikeforce name.

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