Showtime Networks Inc. and Strikeforce have entered into a new broadcast agreement to continue producing live MMA events on Showtime.
“We’re excited about this renewal with SHOWTIME and I expect to put on some big STRIKEFORCE events next year,” UFC President Dana 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.”
Under the new agreement, Showtime will produce and televise up to eight live events. The promotion’s top stars such as lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, women’s featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Santos and women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate will to compete for the organization.
“SHOWTIME has been a great TV partner for us and we’re happy to renew our agreement with them,” said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker. “Together, we’ve put on some really amazing events and we’re going to keep doing that with this new deal. We have a great core of talented fighters on our roster and MMA fans are in for a real treat.”
The new deal kicks off during the network’s Free Preview Weekend, Saturday, Jan. 7, as champion Rockhold defends the STRIKEFORCE 185-pound title against UFC veteran Keith Jardine at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, live on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Notable STRIKEFORCE contenders such as Robbie Lawler, “King Mo” Lawal and Tyron Woodley are also set to compete on the televised card.
Beginning with the Jan. 7 card, SHOWTIME will also televise undercard fights for all STRIKEFORCE events live on SHOWTIME Extreme. The live SHO Extreme preliminary telecasts will afford network subscribers with expanded live fight coverage by up to two hours and provide invaluable exposure for the sport’s next generation of STRIKEFORCE contenders.
“Since its advent on SHOWTIME in 2007, live mixed martial arts has always performed well with our subscribers, particularly in the younger demographics,” said Showtime Sports Executive Vice President and General Manager Stephen Espinoza. “As the one and only premium network in the MMA business, we are proud to renew our commitment to the sport and to our partners at Strikeforce. This agreement ensures that we can continue to deliver the edge-of-your-seat programming that each live MMA event produces in the New Year and beyond.
“This exciting announcement could not have come at a better time,” he continued. “During our nationwide Free Preview Weekend a whole new crop of MMA fans will have the opportunity to sample the Strikeforce brand free of charge.”