Just moments ago, prior to a media call with Showtime Sports executive VP Stephen Espinoza, UFC president Dana White and Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, it was announced via press release that Strikeforce's contract with Showtime has been extended until 2014. This was news that was believed to be coming for some time but did hit some snags when Ken Hershman left Showtime for HBO and was replaced by Espinoza.
The combination of a guy with a boxing background (Espinoza had worked in a legal capacity for multiple boxers and promoters) and the fact that the UFC had poached some top talent from Strikeforce added some new wrinkles to getting the deal done, but in the end the sides were able to come to a final agreement and it appears Strikeforce is sticking around for a while.
Notes from the press release:
- Under the new agreement, SHOWTIME will produce and televise up to eight live events
- They stressed that Gilbert Melendez, Miesha Tate, Luke Rockhold and other current stars will remain with the promotion
- Will kick off with Showtime's free preview weekend on January 7, 2012
- Beginning with the Jan. 7 card, SHOWTIME will also televise undercard fights for all STRIKEFORCE events live on SHOWTIME EXTREME.
They also mentioned that the winner of the Heavyweight Grand Prix will compete in Strikeforce again in the following months, meaning that the winner will not jump to the UFC.