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Exclusive: ProElite On the Verge of a New Broadcast Deal With CBS and Showtime


(It will be interesting to see how Viacom’s vested interest in the company will translate into its promotion of ProElite)

By Mike Russell

It looks like the proclamation UFC president Dana White made a few months ago that CBS will likely go head-to-head with his promotion again in the near future was right on the money.

Sources close to the promotion that was recently brought back from the verge of death by Stratus Media Group, who acquired a 95 percent ownership stake of the company in June, have informed CagePotato.com that ProElite is in the final stages of negotiations for a multi-year television deal with Viacom that will see its events broadcast on both Showtime and CBS starting in the first quarter of 2012.

Viacom owns 20 percent, or approximately 11,991,172 of the 59,955,862 outstanding shares of ProElite (PELE),  which are currently trading at 48 cents each after sitting at a penny for the past three years since EliteXC folded. At the height of EliteXC’s popularity, ProElite’s shares routinely traded at $15. A resurgence of the company aided by a deal with Viacom, would mean that for every dollar they can raise the stock purchase price by, the media conglomerate could stand to earn close to $12 million U.S.

In September 2008 Showtime Networks filed a public notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that stated their intention to enter into discussions to purchase ProElite to try to save the company from bankruptcy, but the deal never came to fruition. The company’s CEO at the time, Chuck Champion instead chose to sell off select limited assets, including fighter contracts and its extensive video catalogue to Strikeforce in an effort to bring the books back into the black, which he did with the transaction. Since then, the company, whose other assets include major stakes in the UK’s Cage Rage and Korea’s SpiritMC promotions, remained dormant until the Stratus Media acquisition brought it back from the ashes.

Showtime’s current deals with Strikeforce and M-1 will soon be over, effectively clearing the way for ProElite’s shows to be broadcast on its networks, which will in turn mean bigger name fighters signing with the promotion whose roster includes former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, The Ultimate Fighter season 3 winner Kendall Grove and UFC veteran Joe Riggs.

M-1 has two events remaining on its current deal and it is rumored that it will feature recently released Strikeforce heavyweight and former PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko on at least one of them. Strikeforce’s three-year contract expires in February 2012, but according to a source we spoke to, it could end sooner if Showtime deems the quality of events the UFC sister promotion is putting on is less than expected.

ProElite 2.0′s first event under its new ownership and the leadership of former ICON Sport T. Jay Thompson and Strikeforce matchmaker Richard Chou will take place August 27 at the Blaisdell Arena in Waikiki, Hawaii. Although Thompson has stated that the promotion is not looking to compete with the UFC, the deal with CBS and Showtime will position ProElite to do just that in the near future.

We will have more on the situation as it develops.

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XENOPHON- August 10, 2011 at 10:48 am
@ XENOPHON – Stop, stop, stop… for the love of god, stop! Please stop trying to impress everyone with your extensive misunderstanding of things that are not remotely applicable and are completely misapplied to the points you are trying to make.
Your base assumption of company size being the determining factor of success in MMA is so poorly reasoned I am cringing with embarrassment for you.

- Excluding the historical fact that Zuffa has countless times been threatened by several other competitors with a seeming resource advantage (CBS/Showtime for EliteXC, Mark Cuban, Donald Trump, Arum, Golden Boy, etc) that would supposedly now show them the flaws in their business model, only to see these competitors find it impossible to create a successful MMA business model of their own, your argument is still monumentally stupid.

- Even if you use your roughly thrown together numbers of Zuffa’s revenues of $1.5 billion to Viacom’s $9.5 billion, you completely miss the fact that Zuffa’s entire business is built around and invested in MMA. Zuffa is an MMA company. Viacom is not. You really think Viacom would even risk $100 million into such a risky business (and historically failing business for all companies not named Zuffa), let alone risk $1.5 billion to match Zuffa? If they did, their board of directors would fire their executive management before you could cream your shorts thinking about all of the competitive hopes you have for them.

- And Lanchester’s Square Law is an all-things-being-equal law of attrition and losses for opposing forces. You are not taking anything into account towards creating equity and parity between the two for fair comparison, including established position, resources devoted to the same outcome, or willingness to endure said attirtion for that goal. Lanchester’s Square Law would be completely inadequate to apply to this situation, as it is incapable to taking the variables and intangibles into account.

- To put it another way, if we use your specious reasoning in using straight money comparison, then why hasn’t Walmart put every television manufacturer, cell phone company, clothing company, and any other company where they produce a competitive product out of business due to their overall revenue? Maybe because Walmart does not invest their entire revenue into these products. Just as Viacom will not invest much of its revenue into MMA.


- And your understanding of corporate interactions seems to be built off of repeated viewings of Wall Street and Pretty Woman. Sorry to break it to you, but Zuffa is a private company. There will be no hostile takeovers and siezures of majority shares, not stock swaps. They choose what, when, and how to sell any piece of the company, and seem to be damn choosy about doing so.
I’m not even going to touch the stupidity of your cyborgs and exoskeletons, since I already feel dirty enough having bothered with the rest of your crap.

- So we get it. You don’t like Zuffa. Can you just say that from now on and spare us the rest of your bullshit?

*****************************************************************

@RwilsonR

- I am not trying to impress anyone, if I was I would not be on this website. I should point a few things out to you, that you may have missed, or misunderstand. Which you want to wave off as bullshit, are actually facts. I deal in facts, not bullshit.

- The Lanchester's Square Law introduced has nothing to do with the size of a company. You interpret its utility incorrectly. As I clearly stated, its specific to demonstrating power advantages, not size. From your post I don't get the impression your stupid, but you fail to understand the difference.

- Unlike you, I never once thought any of the other MMA organizations you listed ever once threatened Zuffa. These others lacked rising talent, and instead relied on either has-been's - or discarded fighters. In the case of Kimbo, Slice he was a test case and a anomaly, and in his case - he too got was immediately signed by the world class UFC that you love to defend. (snicker)

- Also, these other organizations lacked management depth, and they misunderstood the sport, and Zuffa's initial entrenchment into MMA events - you can give that bit of credit to Dana and his simpleton's luck.

- Early on it was a blessing in disguise for Zuffa, as these competitive ventures grew the previous talent pool by leaps and bounds nearly overnight. The proof is in the pudding. The cream of the crop (along with Kimbo), made their way to Zuffa when each of the other organizations collapsed. And they got picked up on the cheap.

- Your right Zuffa is a closed corp., Viacom (if the rumors are true and they reenter MMA) is a public corp. I only know of Zuffa opening their books one time, and for one person. He is named Sheik Tahnoon of Abu Dhabi (Flash Entertainment.)

- This alone forced all to ask, why share your balance sheet with a Shiek? Why a fucking Arab? Their population is roughly 1 million people, women are not allowed to go to sporting events (which means half the seats stand empty), booze is illegal, gambling is not allowed, and all in the name of their national love of, Allah.

- Go look up Islmaic Banking - specifically Hawala. Its off books. Another words, in this case its very likely Flash and the UFC operate in conjunction under a "international corporate shell." The sheik moves his 10% investment into the shell company, and then that shell is used as a means for filtering in off-book cash to prop up its US based parent.

- Why not the Chinese? The Chinese have 1.3 billion potential rice eating viewers and boatloads of more money than the Middle East. Here most speak English (they have more 2nd language English speakers than the US has in total population), and they love to drink, gamble, and get loose.

- Where better to grow the UFC brand, but in China. Obviously there was another need that has yet to be disclosed by Zuffa. I have a dam good guess why, but if you know, please tell me now? I'll give you a hint, it starts with a the letter "D", as in Debt. Massive fucking debt.

- Since you didn't like me tripling the UFC's revenue's lets get back keeping it real. I know the UFC does 10 shows a year, with an average yield of $500 million per year. Viacom revenue stands at $9.5 billion...their books are open to the public and they don't need to leak information as the UFC often does to spin up hype.

- Of the $9.5 billion in revenue, their 'Operating Income' is a whopping $2.2 billion, about a quarter of their revenue. Zuffa with their closed $500 million in revenue, would have less than $125 million (and this number is a high SWAG from me). Just last year, the Las Vegas Review Journal pointed out that Zuffa carries a minimum of $450 million in debt.

- Look at it from a more sophisticated perspective. Dana may like to flash his bling, but in reality he really owns 10% of the total debt. Another words, he is on the fucking hook for his share of the $450 million in debt. Dana is $45 million dollars. He is in debt up to his asshole.

- Do you still think the UFC is rolling in dough? Of course not, the UFC has to borrow $4 dollars just to earn $1 fucking dollar. Do you really want to trick the people here into thinking that the UFC is any better managed than CBS/Showtime for EliteXC, Mark Cuban, Donald Trump, Arum, Golden Boy? Come on Wilson, your talking nonsense.

- On top of that, you dare compare the UFC to Walmart. Walmart is the richest fucking company in existence, ever. They have a annual revenue of more than $422 billion dollars, and that's more than $52 billion dollars more than the oil giant Exxon/Mobil ($379 billion) makes in a year. Stop talking out of your ass, as you cringe in your embarrassment for me.

- I never once said there would be a hostile take over of Zuffa, nobody wants their fucking irresponsible debt. Not even the dumbest fuck on this website would get sucked into that. If Lorenzo was smart, he would have Dana hemmed up with whats called a "Share and Options Buy Back Agreement."

- Why because Dana would be the first rat to jump ship and sell his shares if he felt he needed to pull the rip cord. If I was him I would do the same and line my pockets before the bill collectors started knocking on his doors. Remember Dana is not a fool, surely his wealth has given him access to an exit strategy.

- Second, if there is a Buy-Back Agreement in place, it would mean Dana would have to sell his shares to Zuffa as such agreements give a first right of refusal to the corporation. If the corp. passes, the next option for repurchase is given to all other shareholders. This is what's termed a pro-rata basis, and fairly distributed.

- Here is what you really fail to comprehend, as you had the chance - yet failed to mention it yourself. The real POWER lays not at the television station (example: Spike-Viacom or G4-Comcast) it's all in the infrastructure. Viacom has paid for, built out, and owns their infrastructure, that's commonly called the last mile.

- Zuffa owns no voice, video, or data infrastructural, zero. They, like Golden Boy (who has to partner with HBO/Time Warner), and all the other's who have come on gone will forever be nothing but a little bitch to the big dogs. In this case, it could very well be Viacom coming out on top with a minimum effort.

- This clearly explains why the UFC is always talking about and hinting about a potential deal with the G4 channel. Comcasts G4 channel is primarily structured for the video game generation. This is an attempt to play off the UFC video game. I will tell you this "reach around" is because they are nearing the end of their rope. Most grown men could care a less about video gaming. I will admit, with this strategy the end may justify the means, as the UFC is focusing on the youth. This may be the best and wisest move for them.

- Lastly, you did get one of your conclusions correct. I don't care about Zuffa, the UFC, Frank, Lorenzo, or Dana. I like watching MMA fights, period. Yet, what I like even better is watching them for free. Free and the UFC do not equate. For the UFC to become free, they have to partner soon with a big fish, or they will be eaten alive.

- Wilson over this entire topic, fuck you and your bubble-gum MBA degree. Its simple for anyone to understand. Dana White is identical to another guy named Charlie Sheen. We all know what happens to fucking big mouths who step out of line. The big dogs will always kill them off, every fucking time. Dana is no exception. I my opinion he needs to recalibrate his public image, and step it up.

- Let me ask this. As its common knowledge that the UFC has a team of paid fluffers and pumpers working every MMA blog in existence, every one ask themselves this. Who here best fits that description? Who here defends the UFC at every turn, as if they were sucking their favorite cock? Surely that fucker is not me.
Nut Puncher 9000- August 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm
@Xeno-

That really is all you got huh? lol This is going to be easier than I thought.

And oh yeah, im pretty sure that sheep dont give a fuck about smooth legs...just saying.
Chromium- August 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm
@Mike Russell
Good to know, but I'd wager $100,000 that Sumner Redstone doesn't even know what the hell ProElite is. He is an 83 year old man with an empire many orders of magnitude larger than ProElite. I'm not sure you understand how media empires work, or the degree of autonomy different parts of these things have. Production wings of a specific studio like Fox or Time Warner or Paramount routinely produce tv shows that end up airing on a rival's network because they can't get aired on their own. These are hugely more lucrative business deals than C-League MMA. The reality is that being owned by the giant media group directly would only give a tiny sports organization a very small advantage when it comes to landing a deal with a potential subsidiary of that group. They need to be able to stand on their own two legs first.

Main Point Here:
However, this is all a moot point since Stratus Media Group, not Viacom or CBS Corp, is who owns 95% of ProElite now. If Viacom even owns 5% of ProElite it's basically just a sleeper investment on the chance it amounts to something some day way down the road.
Lonnie Batt- August 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm
love to see someone come up and get strong and keep the UFC in check because as long as there are monopolies these fighters do not stand a chance to have any strong negotiation abilities and theire futures will always be uncertian,, and as a fan these guys deserve some kind of long term benifets... after all this sport is what it is because of the fighters and they will continue to have no control over what happens after fighting.. unlike professional sports like football,baseball and Basketball these athletics have educations to fall back on and lets face it ,,,,it seems like with alot of these guys fighting is all they have........
Mike Russell- August 9, 2011 at 9:05 am
@Chromium: Sumner Redstone and his family are majority owners of CBS Corporation, Viacom, MTV Networks, BET, and the film studio Paramount Pictures, and are equal partners in MovieTickets.com.
XENOPHON- August 9, 2011 at 8:39 am
@sumdumnutpuncherwilson

Do the three of you give free reach rounds when circle-jerking with each other?

The biggest pussies are the ones that join together in little groups, who then placate each others little feelings and boo-hoo-hoo's.

Go ahead and bring it, but before you do. Please give me a few free minutes this morning.

I'm still reading the email Nut Puncher 9000 sent me - on how to properly use that new hair removal machine I ordered the other day.

So you know, it's very important to me that I have smooth legs!
RwilsonR- August 9, 2011 at 7:39 am
@ Sum & Nut - good points. Damn trolls can just suck you in...
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Chromium- August 9, 2011 at 1:40 am
@cedescu
Wanna know who else is "saying it's BS"? Pro Elite. Their promoter TJ Thompson twittered a response to this article already that no deal was imminent. Check it out here:
http://twitter.com/#!/TJMMA/statuses/100647945808003072

And y'all can stop with the misconception that Viacom has a direct interest here. They no longer own either CBS or Showtime. They split up and now Viacom owns MTV Networks, Paramount Studios and several lesser properties, and CBS Corps owns CBS and Showtime (among many other things).

At any rate CBS is not going to air a C-League promotion unless that minor promotion actually pays to get on the air. Not even at 2 AM in the morning. This is one of the dumber MMA stories I've ever heard reported as fact.

I don't know who the hell Cage Potato's sources are on this but they've been misled.
WK- August 9, 2011 at 12:57 am
Good for Rich Chou.
Nut Puncher 9000- August 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm
@RWilson-

Dude, its so easy to destroy this guy (Xeno) without actually using much intelligence that I am taken aback by how much thought you put into your rebuttal. It is not necessary to let him know that we understand the real and more appropriate ways to apply said knowledge because in the end he already sounds like a douche for going to those lengths in the first place. He is obviously an arrogant, pompous, blowhard that comes to a MMA website to drop the latest Yahoo words of the day in the comments section; A place where he ASSUMES nobody will truly understand his language and be immediately impressed at his awesome intellect. He just needs to get pantsed in public a few times and laughed at and he will be gone...
SumDumGuy- August 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm
@RWR: way to feed the troll. now he'll never go away.
RwilsonR- August 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm
@ XENOPHON - Stop, stop, stop... for the love of god, stop! Please stop trying to impress everyone with your extensive misunderstanding of things that are not remotely applicable and are completely misapplied to the points you are trying to make.
Your base assumption of company size being the determining factor of success in MMA is so poorly reasoned I am cringing with embarrassment for you.
Excluding the historical fact that Zuffa has countless times been threatened by several other competitors with a seeming resource advantage (CBS/Showtime for EliteXC, Mark Cuban, Donald Trump, Arum, Golden Boy, etc) that would supposedly now show them the flaws in their business model, only to see these competitors find it impossible to create a successful MMA business model of their own, your argument is still monumentally stupid. Even if you use your roughly thrown together numbers of Zuffa's revenues of $1.5 billion to Viacom's $9.5 billion, you completely miss the fact that Zuffa's entire business is built around and invested in MMA. Zuffa is an MMA company. Viacom is not. You really think Viacom would even risk $100 million into such a risky business (and historically failing business for all companies not named Zuffa), let alone risk $1.5 billion to match Zuffa? If they did, their board of directors would fire their executive management before you could cream your shorts thinking about all of the competitive hopes you have for them.
And Lanchester's Square Law is an all-things-being-equal law of attrition and losses for opposing forces. You are not taking anything into account towards creating equity and parity between the two for fair comparison, including established position, resources devoted to the same outcome, or willingness to endure said attirtion for that goal. Lanchester's Square Law would be completely inadequate to apply to this situation, as it is incapable to taking the variables and intangibles into account. To put it another way, if we use your specious reasoning in using straight money comparison, then why hasn't Walmart put every television manufacturer, cell phone company, clothing company, and any other company where they produce a competitive product out of business due to their overall revenue? Maybe because Walmart does not invest their entire revenue into these products. Just as Viacom will not invest much of its revenue into MMA.
And your understanding of corporate interactions seems to be built off of repeated viewings of Wall Street and Pretty Woman. Sorry to break it to you, but Zuffa is a private company. There will be no hostile takeovers and siezures of majority shares, not stock swaps. They choose what, when, and how to sell any piece of the company, and seem to be damn choosy about doing so.
I'm not even going to touch the stupidity of your cyborgs and exoskeletons, since I already feel dirty enough having bothered with the rest of your crap.
 
So we get it. You don't like Zuffa. Can you just say that from now on and spare us the rest of your bullshit?
Get Off Me- August 8, 2011 at 10:12 pm
If Pro Elite offers nothing new to the sport of MMA than it stands very little chance of competing with the Zuffa/UFC movng forward. Dana is an excellent promoter and he has helped MMA grow more than any other single individual in the game today. Pro Elite's only chance would be to evolve where Dana has not, specifically the rules of the sport, like adding rules unique to Pro Elite i.e. standing fighters up if no advancement is acheived on the ground inside 60 seconds etc.... rules that would promote clarity for the viewing audience and take away interpretation from the judges allowing for a more transparent sport that would likely be better received by both the general and established audience.
Right now MMA as we see it is like Basketball before the 3 in the key rule or back court violation rule, fighters can coast to victories and while "not leaving it in the judges hands" is preached so often, we see fighters take a conservative approach all too often because they are often rewarded(scoring wise) for this mentality, if another organization can effectively address this(as opposed to Dana saying "there is nothing I can do" all the while making 5 round main event fights all by himself) they stand a chance of making progress and competing with the UFC.
Mike Russell- August 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm
@glassjawsh, Yeah, I saw that. I stand by my sources. Wait and see how it plays out. Remember Dana said the UFC wasn't in talks to buy PRIDE, then he announced he bought PRIDE?

Keep in mind ProElite is a publicly traded company.
XENOPHON- August 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm
OK, look at it this way. There is a trick even you can understand. In Operations Research it's called: Lanchester's Square Law.

It can be applied to strategic nuclear weapons, fighter aircraft, or even two MMA fighters for demonstrating the power relationships between opposing forces. Today we'll use it for business.

- Zuffa (which means "scuffle" in Italian) has a revenue of about $500 million per year from PPV alone. Add in another billion dollars for games, toys, apparel, and anything else you can think of that I left out. Let's pretend it's $1.5 billion per year.

- Viacom has a revenue of about $9.5 billion per year.

*Now all we have to do is square them to demonstrate the power differences between the two companies. On the surface it looks like a 10:1 advantage.*

- Zuffa 1.5 x 1.5 = 2.5

- Viacom 9.5 x 9.5 = 90.25

With all other things considered equal, if the question is asked. Who is most likely to prevail. Viacom comes out on top.

There is no doubt Elite has work to do, and finding both management and fighting talent will take some time. The longest contract I have seen the UFC sign a fighter to is for about 4 fights.

At the end of 4 fights (2-3 years) a fighter becomes a free agent. Some of you fucks think my suggestion at a union was meant as a knock at the UFC, you got it dead wrong. It's a proven strategy for keeping top talent, and only paying minimum wage concessions.

Now what will happen is that Viacom can has the means to double any fighters salary that they want with the snap of two fingers. A worse case is the Viacom will only have to wait 2-3 years for any fighter they think they want.

How many UFC/Strikeforce fighters have less than 1 or 2 fights on their contract?

Fighters-UP
glassjawsh- August 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm
im sure you're aware of this already mr russell but yeah....T Jay Thompson is basically denying everything you just said

@TJMMA
T.Jay Thompson
"@JoshGrossESPN We have no imminent deal with Showtime/CBS. We @ProElitemma are not sure what "source" cage potato used but they were wrong."

hxxp://twitter.com/#!/TJMMA/status/100655457961656320
cedescu- August 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm
If Chromium says it's BS, CP should just pack it in and go home.
Chromium- August 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm
I'm sorry but I have an easier time believing that Dana White and Fedor are secret lovers than any current possibility of ProElite showing up on CBS. Not to mention that the 1st quarter of 2012 still overlaps with Showtime's contract with Strikeforce. I'm sorry but this story is not believable.
SumDumGuy- August 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm
The other day I thought: why is every body so mean to Xenophag... now I get it. Thanks!
Nut Puncher 9000- August 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm
Money does not equal success. It will be impossible for anyone to surprass the UFC Brand at this point and any thoughts to the contrary are naive at best. If anything, putting squash matches or even competitive B&C level fights/fighters on CBS again will revitalize the UFC's slumping PPV numbers.

And Xeno, you are still a douche. Your attempts to impress us with your astounding vocabulary doesnt mean your opinion is worth more than that of a ring girl. Is it just me, or does "In science (specific to fight science) people talk about the impending singularity. I subscribe to it, as that is essentially how I make my living.
Without the use of weaponry (including exoskeletons) or embedded computing to enhance performance (stepping aside Performance Enhancing Drugs), the farthest you or I will ever see the legal fight game go in our lives – is mixed martial arts." SCREAM asshole to you???
XENOPHON- August 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm
@Machiavelli

History dictates that we read “The Prince.” Machiavelli is person who understands where the strategic, tactical, and operational advantages exist. SMART
XENOPHON- August 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm
In science (specific to fight science) people talk about the impending singularity. I subscribe to it, as that is essentially how I make my living.
Without the use of weaponry (including exoskeletons) or embedded computing to enhance performance (stepping aside Performance Enhancing Drugs), the farthest you or I will ever see the legal fight game go in our lives - is mixed martial arts.
Even with the acceptance that fights have been fixed and rigged for 1,000's of years it still amazes me that up until 10 years ago MMA did not catch on sooner.
I suppose a good portion of a couple generations got sucked into the hyper fake WWE. Arum and the Golden Boy Promotions are no real threat to the UFC, their holdings, or the competitive organizations.
The real threat is now obvious and clear, its from the the 900 pound gorilla that just entered the room In this case Viacom holds an order-of-magnitude advantage. For those who don't understand what that is, an order-of-magnitude advantage is 10 times bigger.
In this case when comparing Viacom to Zuffa, Zuffa is significantly disadvantaged - the weakling.
XENOPHON- August 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm
@O Chan
New York is the providence of embedded and incestuous politics, and I am sure Zuffa has done what they could. Wasting any more money in New York is bad business for ZUFFA - it's now a waste of resources and energy.
It's the last bastion of boxing (Vegas already made the trade up to MMA), and and those that continue to promote the boxing will eventually capitulate.
The Pacquiao card is about played out. The old is always replaced with the new. In this case, boxing will continue to fade at even faster rates and in larger increments.
Machiavelli- August 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm
Showtime and CBS have spoken very clearly, they like MMA but the UFC (I.E. Dana White) either wants too much or Dana has pissed them off so bad that they will never work with him.

The UFC bought out Strikeforce probably assuming that it would force the networks to further negotiations but they were obviously wrong.

The question remains as to how long it will take to build ProElite into a common brand, but it looks like they are doing it correctly this time. They are owners now, so they don't have to worry about getting bought out like Strikeforce did.
CagePotatoMMA