(Benji Radach goes in for the kill against Murilo "Ninja" Rua at EliteXC: Heat last October. Photo courtesy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.)
From a new press release distributed by Strikeforce:
Showtime Networks Inc. and World championship mixed martial arts (MMA) event producer Strikeforce have joined forces to create an all-new series of MMA events that will air live on SHOWTIME® as part of the SHOWTIME Sports franchise. The news was jointly announced today by Ken Hershman, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Sports and Event Programming, Showtime Networks, and Strikeforce Founder and CEO Scott Coker.
The multi-year agreement calls for SHOWTIME to produce and televise up to 16 live events per year including Strikeforce world championship events as well as a series dedicated to showcasing up-and-coming fighters in the sport. The initial championship event is schedule for Saturday, April 11, 2009 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The fight card will be announced at a later date.
This won’t be the first time that a Strikeforce event has been broadcast on Showtime; Shamrock vs. Le aired live on the premium cable channel last March, and Shamrock vs. Baroni aired on Showtime PPV in June 2007. But now it looks like Strikeforce will be airing fight cards with the same frequency as the UFC — particularly when you include the quarterly specials on CBS, as has been reported — and that’s a significant step forward.
According to FiveOuncesofPain, one of the fights that will featured in the April 11th event will be a bout between Scott Smith and Benji Radach. Smith was featured twice in EliteXC’s live events on CBS, both times in unsuccessful efforts to claim Robbie Lawler’s middleweight title. (Their first fight was ruled a no-contest after Smith received an unintentional eye-poke in the third round that ended the match.) Somehow, Smith was able to extricate himself from his EliteXC contract after Pro Elite closed its doors, and last competed for Strikeforce in November, scoring a 24-second knockout over Terry Martin. Radach last competed at EliteXC: Heat in October, where he knocked out Murilo Rua in the second round.
Former Strikeforce middleweight champ Frank Shamrock and current Strikeforce lightweight champ Josh Thomson are also rumored to be on the card.