by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
A mere three days ago, the newly formed partnership between Showtime Networks Inc. and Elite Xtreme Combat announced that Frank Shamrock and Renzo Gracie would be the headlining bout of their debut event on February 10th. But before the principals involved even left Hollywood, the location of the announcement, the fight was mired in controversy.
The controversy stems from Shamrock’s current contract with the California-based Strikeforce promotion and his signing with EliteXC. Strikeforce official Mike Afromowitz told MMAWeekly, “Frank has a contract with us that very clearly states that his next fight is to be for us. By signing to fight elsewhere before fulfilling that fight, he is not honoring that contract.”
On December 8th at the most recent Strikeforce event, Shamrock took to the ring to announce his next fight for the promotion, which is scheduled to be a headlining bout against Phil Baroni.
It was the second time that Shamrock announced the fight, which was originally scheduled to take place at the Strikeforce show on December 8th. Shamrock vs. Baroni has now been scheduled for sometime in April, to take place in San Jose, California, where Shamrock currently resides and has a large following. Strikeforce officials are planning a large marketing push and pay-per-view surrounding the event.
Shamrock fighting for another promotion in such close proximity to the Strikeforce date could jeopardize the Strikeforce production. An injury resulting from the Gracie fight could preclude his participation in the Baroni fight and would most likely damage the attendance and pay-per-view purchases for the event.
When questioned at the EliteXC press conference on Thursday, Shamrock stated to several members of the media that he was allowed to take the fight. His exact words at the press conference were, “I have a business relationship that allows that to happen.” (Shamrock did not respond to several attempts by MMAWeekly for comment.)
Strikeforce told MMAWeekly that they notified an EliteXC representative of Shamrock’s contract with Strikeforce prior to his signing with EliteXC, and that Strikeforece has “sent correspondence to Gary Shaw and Douglas DeLuca [both members of EliteXC’s management team] and Showtime officially notifying them that there is a problem.”