by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
For EliteXC, the first mixed martial arts promotion to air on premium cable channel Showtime; the focus has unfortunately not been on the fights, but on the contractual status surrounding their main event, Frank Shamrock vs. Renzo Gracie.
Frank Shamrock had a pre-existing contract with the California-based Strikeforce promotion. According to Strikeforce, his contract stated that his next fight, if it were to occur in less than 24 months from his fight against Cesar Gracie, which took place on the Strikeforce event of March 10, 2006, must take place under the Strikeforce banner.
Strikeforce official Mike Afromowitz told MMAWeekly in mid-December, “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.”
As recently as mid-January, Shamrock stated, “It has been straightened out. Strikeforce and I have a really good business relationship and we have been able to see past the points.”
Strikeforce seemed to disagree however, as they took the issue to the courts and were initially granted a temporary restraining order due to Shamrock’s breach of contract. Strikeforce later rescinded the restraining order in an attempt to come to an agreement with Pro Elite.
As first reported by Sherdog.com and independently confirmed by MMAWeekly.com, an agreement was struck at the 11th hour and the fight will take place this weekend as scheduled.
Strikeforce has been making waves in the MMA world since their debut show set an American attendance record, but they haven’t been able to reach too far into a market dominated by the Ultimate Fighting Championship which has a far greater reach due to their product being on Spike TV and pay-per-view. The only thing really lacking for Strikeforce is exposure to a wider audience.
At the time of publication, no details were forthcoming on the final agreement between Strikeforce and Pro Elite, but considering that Strikeforce is an established promotion that has been able to draw top tier talent to fight for them, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that the agreement might include some sort of exposure for their promotion on Showtime. Receiving the exposure that Showtime could provide for Strikeforce would be far more valuable than just a monetary settlement. Of course, there are myriad different options that a settlement could include, and we don’t know the final details as of yet.