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Showtime announces agreement to televise Strikeforce events

Premium-based cable network Showtime Networks announced Thursday that it has entered into an agreement to televise mixed martial arts events promoted by the San Jose-based Strikeforce.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to deliver live Strikeforce events on the Showtime premium television platform,” Strikeforce Founder and CEO Scott Coker is quoted as saying in a joint press release. “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.”

“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,” said Ken Hershman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Sports and Event Programming for Showtime.

The news comes on the heels of Strikeforce’s formal announcement that it has acquired select assets from ProElite, Inc., the parent company of EliteXC, which formerly had its events televised on Showtime.

According to the press release, Showtime will televise up to 16 events a year including Strikeforce world championship events as well as a series dedicated to showcasing up-and-coming fighters int he sport.

Today’s release confirmed previous reports that indicated Strikeforce’s first broadcast with Showtime under the terms of the new deal will take place on April 11 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

While the release states that a fight card will be released at later date, has confirmed that middleweights Benji Radach and Scott Smith will be in action with former Strikeforce middleweight champion Frank Shamrock and current Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson also expected to compete in separate bouts as well.

April 11 will not be the first time Showtime and Strikeforce have worked together. The two companies were involved in the Frank Shamrock vs. Phil Baroni event that was distributed on Showtime PPV in June of 2007. Additionally, Showtime also televised last March’s Strikeforce middleweight title fight between Shamrock and Cung Le.

While it is expected that CBS will televise Strikeforce events on a quarterly basis, no mention of a deal between the two companies was made in today’s announcement.

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