by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Showtime Networks, Inc. and Pro Elite, Inc. today unveiled plans for their first live mixed martial arts event. The event, which will take place under the banner of the newly formed Elite Xtreme Combat, features a main event of Frank Shamrock versus Renzo Gracie at the Desoto Civic Center in Southaven, Mississippi. Taking place on February 10th, EliteXC will be broadcast live at 10pm EST on the Showtime premium network.
Recognized as one of the greatest champions in Ultimate Fighting Championship history and one of the early innovators in mixed martial arts, Shamrock defeated Gracie’s cousin Cesar earlier this year under the Strikeforce banner in San Jose, California. The Frank Shamrock vs. Cesar Gracie fight was the most highly attended mixed martial arts event in United States history with 18,265 fans in attendance.
Renzo Gracie is recognized as part of the family that pioneered the art of Brazilian Jiujitsu. He has been much more active recently than Shamrock, who has just three official bouts to his record since leaving the UFC in 1999. Gracie defeated legendary fighter and trainer Pat Miletich at the International Fight League’s event in late September.
Although no other bouts have been announced, the EliteXC roster of fighters also includes UFC veteran David Loiseau, K-1 veteran Antonio Silva, Gina Carano, Edson Berto, KJ Noons, and Tim Persey.
Professional wrestling icon Bill Goldberg will serve as a color commentator for the Showtime broadcasts.
With the broadcast on February 10th, Showtime will become the first premium network to broadcast live mixed martial arts events in the United States. The partnership between Showtime and EliteXC, however, is a long-term commitment. According to EliteXC’s president of live events, Gary Shaw (a longtime boxing promoter), in an interview with BoxingTalk.com, “We’ll probably put on six events in 2007, eight in 2008 and ten to twelve in 2009.”
EliteXC plans to supplement their live broadcasts on Showtime by streaming non-televised undercard bouts live on their web site.