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Pro Elite Close to a Sale? Would-Be Free Agents Screwed?

(You didn’t buy that plane ticket for Japan yet, did you?)

Five Ounces of Pain reports that Pro Elite could be very close to a sale of the company that might potentially revive MMA on CBS and Showtime, while at the same time putting the kibosh on the free agency plans of EliteXC fighters.  Apparently it’s down to three potential buyers, one of which is being led by King of the Cage promoter Terry Trebilcock (guess that Booyaa Fightwear ban makes a little more sense now, eh?), though the identities of the other suitors are still a mystery.  

The most likely buyer at this point is described only as “a company with over a billion dollars in annual gross revenue that also is a recognizable name.”

Just shooting in the dark here, but I’m going to say it’s Starbucks.  I heard they want to release a new specialty drink, the Kimboccino Latte.  It costs half a million dollars, but man does it ever go down easy. (Zing!)

Pro Elite is reportedly hoping to make the sale before Christmas, and if they do there’s a strong possibility that a new owner could round everyone up and successfully resurrect the relationship with CBS to get events on network TV again in 2009.  What does that mean for a fighter like Jake Shields, who seemed all but certain that he was bound for the UFC? 

It means that just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in.

Cagepotato Comments

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tyler- December 3, 2008 at 11:52 pm
Kimbo Slice is an ASS Kicker! He'd rip your nuts off.
tyler- December 3, 2008 at 11:50 pm
E Honda how much do love Dana White?
E Honda... Win.- December 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm
Zuffa should buy it then force kimbo to fight plugs on the undercard and ruin his hapless career even more then it already is. Seriously, would that not be hilarious if Zuffa bought it just used it as their personal play toy and took guys they wanted and trash the rest. I mean I cant possibly see what person in their right mind would buy this thinking it could be a viable competitor the ufc. Lets just hope whoever does buy it is not as retarded as the Shaw pissants.
Lincoln- December 3, 2008 at 12:13 pm
If this deal goes down which is a big IF. It will be interesting to see who the buyer is, what happens with CBS,and who they keep on as fighters with some starting to go elsewhere like Scott Smith and Wilson Reis.I hope this turns out to be good news with the buyer being a legitimate company than can actually make a go of it and stick around for years.
Rod- December 3, 2008 at 8:07 am
#1: I just read in the Rampage interview that the UFC is toting a 1 billion dollar revenue, coincidence? maybe... maybe not.

#2: Zuffa buying EliteXC would almost guarantee them a network spot due to the current relationship with CBS. UFC wants a network spot... coincidence? maybe... maybe not.

#3: All Elite needs is a rebranding. Kimbo can stay as long as his pay drops and he fights guys more at his level of skill (in the undercard or low card area). Promote the guys with real fighting skill and you won't need a fabricated superstar like WWE has, btw Kimbo may want to consider becoming a prowrestler. One good fighter with the right tools (charisma, attitude, crowd appeal) can turn the company in the right direction.

#4: Say Zuffa does buy- then they might move some fighters around, bring some to UFC, some to WEC. In contrast this would be very similar to WWE, who bought out WCW and ECW back in the day.

#5. Poop.
Surfin Dave- December 3, 2008 at 7:27 am
Oh snap! Now I know why the Big 3 upped the bailout amount they're asking for! And all of a sudden they say they have a plan on how to spend the money...
Your Fucking Father- December 3, 2008 at 7:01 am
I am not one of the people who want a UFC monopoly but on the same hand I want an MMA company to have fighters who are in the same weight classes fighting. Kimbo and EliteXC were and are bad for the sport. The UFC is successful because they put on good fights and they have fighters people want to see. NNo one wants Seth/Kimbo 2. And I hate the swedes too just not the bikini team.
Ouch! That hurts- December 3, 2008 at 6:19 am
I concur with O,B&I, the Swedes suck! I will never forgive them because they bombed Pearl harbor!
Jared Shaw- December 3, 2008 at 5:55 am
Shut up jdavis, you don't know what you are talking bout' man.... You posts are so long that no one is going to read them anyways man... Elite xc is a viable co. just ask my dad man...
jdavis- December 3, 2008 at 12:50 am
"(which can be paid off if their a billion dollar company)"

It's not a billion dollar company it's a company with a billion in revenue and a billion in gross isn't as big of a company as some people seem to think. Heck a billion in revenue doesn't tell us anything at all about what this mystery company's actual net profits are or how much capital they have on hand. GM's revenue for 2007 was $200 billion dollars and they are on the verge of massive bankruptcy, don't read too much into that 1 billion number. Station Casino's had over a billion in revenue in 2004 but the Fertitta's still almost sold the UFC before TUF became a hit.

"but also has many other factors on it's side opposed to the UFC 8 years ago.Such as Cable and Network TV and a roster of fighters under contract who are starving for a fresh start."

Well as has already been seen in MMA a cable and/or network deal doesn't pay the bills PPV does. Even with all those fighters(many of whom have already signed elsewhere and who's managers say their contracts won't transfer to a new owner as what happened when Zuffa bought Pride)they are a long way from a PPV ready product. Lets not forget how the CBS show without Kimbo did.

Zuffa didn't have to deal with a lack of PPV headlining talent and they didn't have to deal with hardly any market competition at all(Pride was in the Japanese market not the US). Heck the UFC had plenty of time to brand the whole sport over the years and to create their own stars. Zuffa also didn't have to deal with the much higher cost of being a MMA promotion currently, the UFC went through $44 million in 4 years($10million of that for the first season of TUF), ProElite went through $50 million in a year and a half. Event and fighter cost weren't near what they are today and the economy was much healthier too. The two situations are just completely different.

Has we had a report that stated that ProElite's current or past executives will have absolutely nothing to do with it after the purchase? We have no idea who is bidding or what their plans are yet, don't assume the Shaws won't be involved until that is confirmed. For all we know Vince McMahon could be one of the bidders and he's planning to WWE it up with EliteXC. Heck what may be best is that Trebilcock gets it not he mystery company, at least we know he knows MMA.
tyler- December 3, 2008 at 12:07 am
jdavis says about the potential sale of ProElite and the struggle the buyer may have in the beginning "This is different than it was with the UFC because the UFC is where it is today". WTF? Yeah no shit their big today that doesn't take away from the fact they were a sinking ship when Zuffa took over.Unlike the UFC 8 years ago when Zuffa purchased them as others have pointed out the buyer of this company accumulates debt yes (which can be paid off if their a billion dollar company) but also has many other factors on it's side opposed to the UFC 8 years ago.Such as Cable and Network TV and a roster of fighters under contract who are starving for a fresh start.Plus most importantly Jared "Skala" Shaw is gone from the business to pursue his rap career,and Gary is probably at the local McDonald's ordering everything on the menu.
jdavis- December 2, 2008 at 11:14 pm
"Then to say this is worse than when Zuffa bought the UFC is way of base."

This is different than it was with the UFC because the UFC is where it is today, the money in MMA is made off PPV and Zuffa is currently doing all it can to saturate that market and starve it's competition. A promotion now not only has to survive and grow it has to fight off everything Zuffa will throw at them too.
jdavis- December 2, 2008 at 11:11 pm
"jdavis I think you're just trying to paint a horrible picture for some reason."

Anonymous(if that is your real name), I am just being realistic, for some reason there are quite a few MMA "fans" who like to grasp on to anything not Zuffa like it is the second coming. The reality of this situation is that it is going to take losing a lot of money for a significant period of time to save a dead company when it would be much smarter and easier to just start a new company and do it right the first time. Anyone buying ProElite is buying a box full of debt and problems and all they are going to get in exchange is the contracts of fighters who are trying hard to get free(and in many cases already signed somewhere else) a couple of tv deals that they may of been able to get anyway and a used cage. I'm all for competition but that doesn't change the reality of this situation.

tyler- December 2, 2008 at 10:07 pm
Gina Carano,Kimbo Slice,Nick Diaz and Tito Ortiz(if he is signed,he was suppose to sign with Elite) would be a nice start for whomever buys this if anyone does.Not to mention you'll be on CBS and the Shaw's will be nowhere around to fuck anything up.I wonder who is the potential buyer.
theflyingtsunami- December 2, 2008 at 10:05 pm
it's April Fool's in December. It's actually Zuffa buying ProElite. The Ultimate power play and rub it in ya face. :-0

j/j...would be truly poetic if that happened tho....
Anonymous- December 2, 2008 at 9:38 pm
jdavis I think you're just trying to paint a horrible picture for some reason.What the hell do you mean crowded market how many MMA companies in the U.S. are on network television? Then to say this is worse than when Zuffa bought the UFC is way of base.MMA in this country was virtually non existent when Zuffa took over the UFC. After UFC 33 Dana and the Fertitta's thought the company was going under.They hit it big with UFC 40 then struck gold with TUF.If someone takes over the mess with ProElite I'm sure their going to have a plan that won't involve Jared Shaw or Jeremy Lappen and as far as a tainted brand goes as soon as they put on one successful show with the new regime all will be ancient history.You sound as though you just want this to be a total failure if someone new was to takeover.I hope you're not one of those fans who only wants the UFC to be successful because if that's the case you can't be objectionable about this.
jdavis- December 2, 2008 at 9:01 pm
"If the company buying this has a billion dollars in revenue their not worried about the 50 million dollars"

First off every company would be worried about 50 million in debt, at least the sucessful ones. Second a billion in gross isn't as impressive as people might think. As an example, CBS corp(parent company of CBS) had a annual gross revenue of 14 billion in 2007, their total net income was 1.2 billion. Tossing out a gross revenue number is irrelevant if you don't also know the net income.

The fighters have been getting jerked around and left out in the cold, they have been signing to fight other places and Scott Smith recently made significantly more fighting for Strikeforce than he did from ProElite. It's not a good start with talent relations for anyone new taking over. As far as the tv contracts go it's not like they were enough for ProElite to make money, someone is going to have to be willing to dump a lot more money into this to try and salvage anything from it. This isn't the same as Zuffa buying the UFC this is trying to revive a tainted failed company and compete in a already crowded market during a severe economic downturn.
Lincoln - December 2, 2008 at 8:24 pm
If someone does by them they've got a leg up already with CBS,Gina Carano,Robbie Lawler,Nick Diaz,and if their able to sign Tito Ortiz as he said a deal was in place when Elite announced they were closing up shop,also Kimbo still has his fanbase of internet fans that don't care he lost they'll watch him anyway.Just like WWE fans buy UFC ppv's to watch Lesnar.If the thing is under new management is marketed right with a new matchmaker it could really turn around.
mmafightnight- December 2, 2008 at 8:21 pm
So is it the WWE? With the success of Lesnar, I can see Vinny Mac salivating.
mmafightnight- December 2, 2008 at 8:20 pm
So is it the WWE? With the success of Lesnar, I can see Vinny Mac salivating.
Anonymous- December 2, 2008 at 8:18 pm
If the company buying this has a billion dollars in revenue their not worried about the 50 million dollars ProElite owes.As far as a roster of fighters who don't want to be there.It wouldn't be the same it would be all new with a new management team.The fighters still want to get paid and fight on CBS and Showtime so i don't think there is going to be a problem.When Zuffa bought the UFC that was also as you say a tainted brand name that was in debt and once banned from cable television and as Dana White points out all the time 'when we took this over this thing was dead".Well things certainly turned around for them,and whoever takes over Proelite if a deal goes down at all they start off fresh with a cable and network tv deal in place.
K.E.G.- December 2, 2008 at 8:10 pm
If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it does it make a sound?

If Kimbo and Tim Sylvia are the main event of the next CBS card and Tim shits his pants again who will smelll worse?

Think about it guys the possibilities are endless.
RyanHobbs- December 2, 2008 at 7:56 pm
Kimbo needs to go fight in K-1 or fight a stand up fighter in MMA. His Bare knuckle fights were really cool but yeah I just want to see him in some stand up fights. Maybe against Tim Sylvia or Cro cop? Even Houston Alexander although I doubt that is possible with Houston in the UFC. Kimbo should try out for TUF when the opportunity presents itself.
jdavis- December 2, 2008 at 7:52 pm
Why would anyone want to by a company with $50 million in debt, a tainted brand name, and a roster of fighters that don't want to fight for the company anymore? It just seems that it would be less risky and millions of dollars cheaper to just start from scratch as it would be to try and save a failed trainwreck, particularly in this economy.
Anonymous- December 2, 2008 at 6:12 pm
Understand your point but...

It's a network tv deal that pays you no money.

Your roster includes:
- the star attraction that has been outed as a "farce".
- a heavyweight champion that isn't allowed to fight for a year.
- a lightweight champ that flew the coop.
- numerous non exclusive fighters that are already locked into other fights and ventures including the most exciting fighter(Alvarez).

Plus, the big one, your Brand Name is shot. It's has the stigma of going out of business.

I believe with the CBS tv deal, the "Saturday Night Fights" label is more of a grab than EliteXC was for casual fans. If there is some rich company that wants to get into the fight game, I'm sure they could get that tv deal without the pro elite/elitexc namesake. Plus, they could pick up most of the fighters as free agents, and maybe even save some money.