MMA Promotion Gets HUGE Network TV Deal

Earlier today, MMAjunkie.com broke quite the story: Elite Xtreme Combat’s parent company ProElite, Inc., “appears to be on the verge” of a landmark deal with the CBS television network. This would be the first broadcast network deal for a mixed martial arts promotion since My Network TV’s failed IFL experiment, and obviously CBS is a much higher-profile network than the new home of WWE Smackdown.

Confirmed since by Yahoo! Sports and Dave Meltzer, the deal is expected to be officially announced tomorrow. It would put live EliteXC fights on CBS for four fights beginning this April, most likely on Saturdays from 9 to 11pm ET, with the first show being headlined by YouTube fighting sensation Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson and taking place in New Jersey (the new Prudential Center in Newark and Atlantic City were mentioned in Kevin Iole’s Yahoo! article).

EliteXC was formed as a partnership with Showtime Networks Inc. in 2006, and Showtime parent company CBS Corporation (which of course also owns the broadcast network) is an investor in ProElite… which in addition to EliteXC also owns combat sports promotions ICON Sport, Cage Rage, and King of the Cage.

According to WrestlingObserver.com’s Meltzer, UFC had been working on a deal with CBS for months. The belief is that UFC’s negotiations with CBS fell through for the same reason the HBO/UFC negotiations fell through: Zuffa’s unwillingness to allow someone else to control the television production and announcing aspects of the show. It is believed that UFC is currently in negotiations with NBC, which has been rumored since the beginning of the writers’ strike late last year.

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