SHOWTIME Joins Forces With Strikeforce for Live MMA Series
and world-championship mixed-martial-arts (MMA) event producer Strikeforce have joined forces
to create an all-new series of MMA events that will air live on SHOWTIME as part of the SHOWTIME Sports franchise.
The multi-year agreement calls for SHOWTIME to produce and
televise up to 16 live events per year, including Strikeforce world-championship events, as well as a series dedicated to showcasing up-and-coming
fighters in the sport. The initial championship event is scheduled for Saturday
April 11 at the HP Pavilion in San
The fight card will be announced at a later date.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to deliver live
Strikeforce events on the SHOWTIME premium-television platform,” says Scott
Coker, Strikeforce founder/CEO. “SHOWTIME is a forward-thinking
innovator with a reputation for producing outstanding original programming in
sports and entertainment. They have been a phenomenal partner in the past, and
we are looking forward to growing our relationship with them and bringing the
Strikeforce brand of MMA to millions of SHOWTIME subscribers.”
Adds Ken Hershman, SVP/GM of sports and event
programming for Showtime Networks, “Strikeforce has a history of presenting
high-quality, compelling mixed-martial-arts events, and we are thrilled to be
able to bring their world-class events to our subscribers.”
Hershman was responsible for pioneering the network’s entry
into MMA in 2007, when SHOWTIME became the first premium network to televise
the explosive sport.
“This relationship with Strikeforce will allow SHOWTIME to
continue to deliver some of the best MMA matchups in the rapidly growing sport
as well as to expose the future champions of MMA to our audience,” Hershman said.
The agreement reunites SHOWTIME and Strikeforce following
their successful “Shamrock vs. Baroni” event, presented by SHOWTIME PPV in
2007. In the main event, former UFC middleweight champion and MMA legend
Frank Shamrock defeated knockout artist Phil “The New York Badass” Baroni in
the second round of action, becoming the first-ever Strikeforce world middleweight champion.
A martial-arts promoter for more than 23 years, Coker has
gained widespread acclaim among industry colleagues and the media, including
Rolling Stone magazine, Yahoo! Sports,
The San Jose Mercury News, for
positioning his 14-year-old Strikeforce organization as a major player in the
world’s fastest-growing sport since its inaugural MMA event, which hosted a
capacity crowd of 18,265 at San Jose’s HP Pavilion on March 10, 2006.The
live gate figure also broke the then-all-time record for attendance at an MMA
event held in North America.