Following the exodus of Showtime executive Ken Hershman, UFC president Dana White stepped into the Strikeforce and Showtime negotiations, quickly hammering out a new agreement with the premium cable network.
“Just wait and watch what I do. I’m getting into this and I’m gonna hammer it. That’s all I can say,” White said recently, being coy about the details, but enthusiastic about the prospects for Strikeforce’s future.
Strikeforce and Showtime on Thursday released a joint announcement that a new broadcast agreement had been finalized, beginning with Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine on Jan. 7 from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
The details in the statement, however, were scarce.
Showtime will produce and air up to eight live Strikeforce events per year, although the duration of the agreement was not disclosed. A key addition is that Strikeforce preliminary bouts will air live on the Showtime Extreme network, serving as an outlet to build the profiles of some of the up-and-coming fighters on the undercards.
The Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix will also come to a conclusion as part of the agreement with Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier squaring off at an as yet unspecified event, the winner continuing on to fight on a future Strikeforce event on Showtime.
Champions such as Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold, Cris “Cyborg” Santos, and Miesha Tate will continue on with the promotion.
“We’re excited about this renewal with Showtime and I expect to put on some big Strikeforce events next year,” White said. “I never thought I would say this, but I am very much looking forward to building Strikeforce and working very closely with Showtime.”
The Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine event on Jan. 7 airs as part of the premium network’s free-view weekend, making it available for free in more than 60 million households.
Strikeforce and Showtime are holding a joint media conference call on Thursday afternoon, so stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com for further details.