In an interview with USA Today’s Sergio Non, Strikeforce’s Scott Coker brought an interesting fact to light regarding the negotiating process with ProElite.
Apparently, Strikeforce pulled themselves out of the running for a deal with ProElite back in December. CBS wanted them on their network, however, and asked them to come back to the bargaining table.
At that time there was, from what I understand, three or four different parties in the running trying to get this deal. Whether that’s true or not, I really don’t know, but it seemed like the deal points were changing, and there was some issues in the negotiations, and it seemed like it was just a much harder deal to close. … We rescinded the offer and pulled out of the deal and walked away at one point.
When we walked away, honestly, I thought that was it — we’re going to go our way and they’re going to go their way and someone else was going to get the deal.
We got a call from CBS — this was probably after a week or so — saying, “Look, you guys, we’d like to have Strikeforce on Showtime and we really would like you guys to be our partner. Can you re-engage with ProElite?” And that’s how we got back into the deal to the CBS relationship.
At the beginning of 2008, who would have figured in a year, a national television network would be calling a regional mixed martial arts promotion with the hopes of getting them on their network? If anyone, you would have thought they’d be calling the UFC, but fortunately, CBS has recognized what we already knew, mixed martial arts isn’t just the UFC, and Strikeforce puts on a great product run by competent individuals. If there’s any recipe for success outside of the UFC brand, this seems to be it.
Coker also addressed the fighter situation and elaborated a little further on their April 11 debut event on Showtime.
We’ve had conversations with the 10 of the people and out of the 10, there’s only one person — and I don’t want to mention any names — trying to renegotiate, trying to change the deal. But everybody else is very happy and very receptive to getting back to work and fulfilling their contract. And now they feel a certain level of comfort that we’ll be able to pick it up and move forward and get it back on TV and back working.
I’m going to see where we’re at with Gina, let’s say mid-week. We would like Gina to come fight. That’s not guaranteed by any means, but we’re going to make our best efforts to get her back into the cage right away.
Josh Thomson — I would like to invite K.J. Noons to fight Josh; Marc Dion and I are in discussions right now.
It’ll depend on who’s available and who’s not available. But Benji and Scott Smith should be an amazing fight. Frank Shamrock’s going to fight. We’re going to have a conversation with Cung Le here in a couple of days, see how he’s feeling. Maybe he might be stepping in as our co-feature main event.
Coker also mentioned that he expects Cung Le to fight a couple times this year and next, with a possible rematch against Frank Shamrock at the end of the year and a potential championship fight against Robbie Lawler as well. Now, fighting a couple times a year seems to contradict Cung’s previously stated plans, but with this new arrangement, fighting on CBS and starring in major motion pictures seems like the perfect opportunity for Cung to cross-promote himself into mainstream stardom.
Plus, how bad ass would Cung Le vs. Robbie Lawler be? Who doesn’t want to see that fight?