Call it Pro Elite 2.0. Call it a new and improved version. Call it whatever you want, but the new version of Pro Elite is up and running and signing fighters for their return show in August.
The organization that once promoted Elite XC, which landed on both Showtime and CBS, is now under new leadership and they are putting the finishing touches on the business model that will lead them in a new direction.
Director of Fight Operations T. Jay Thompson knows a lot about building a fight promotion from the ground up.
From his days in Hawaii running Superbrawl which then turned into ICON, Thompson helped mold and shape many young fighter’s careers as well as veterans looking to build themselves back up.
It’s that very business model that Thompson along with fellow executive Rich Chou are doing with their first two major signings confirmed to MMAWeekly.com on Thursday.
As previously speculated, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski has signed a deal to compete for Pro Elite and will be headlining the first fight card on Aug 27 in Hawaii.
Arlovski has fallen on tough times of late, dropping four fights in a row, but with his training now fully integrated at Greg Jackson’s gym in New Mexico, the Belarus native will look for a rebirth of sorts when he debuts with Pro Elite next month.
The other signing Thompson confirmed has the pedigree of a champion, even though he hasn’t stepped foot in the cage for a professional fight yet.
NCAA heavyweight champion wrestler Mark Ellis has signed a multi-fight deal with Pro Elite to compete for the promotion, and will make his professional debut in August.
Why is Ellis, a 0-0 fighter, so special as a signee for Pro Elite?
Ellis signed on with the American Kickboxing Academy last year, and began working alongside fighters like UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and current Strikeforce contender Daniel Cormier.
Serving as a major training partner for Velasquez as he got ready for Brock Lesnar, as well as assisting other teammates, Ellis is expected to be the next heavyweight stand out produced from the AKA system.
“Bringing in a mix of veterans and young fighters are exactly how we want to build Pro Elite,” Thompson said. “Watching Andrei Arlovski work his way back to the top, and then seeing a young guy like Mark Ellis develop into a potential star, it’s going to be great to see how this all develops.”
It’s a proven formula that Thompson has seen unfold before.
He helped develop the career a young Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, and then helped resurrect fighters like Robbie Lawler and Frank Trigg after their time ended in the UFC.
Thompson knows the formula can work again and he’s banking on Arlovski and Mark Ellis as the first two pieces to this puzzle now called Pro Elite.