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Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

Wfa Out, Showtime In

By Steven Marrocco

Amidst a whirlwind of consolidations, departures, and dissolutions, a premium cable network enters the fold of MMA promotions as Showtime Networks announced an inaugural MMA show at a press conference today in Los Angeles. EXC, or Elite Xtreme Combat, partners boxing promoter Gary Shaw and entertainment exec Douglas De Luca with Jay Dee Penn of Rumble World Entertainment as the producers of the February 10th show. For their initial foray into MMA, held in the unusual location of Mississippi, EXC beat the IFL to the punch as Renzo Gracie signed on to fight against Frank Shamrock in the evening’s main event. Former UFC middleweight contender David Loiseau will also return to the cage against an unnamed opponent, while Strikeforce vet Gina Carano will fight in the sole female bout.

In addition to the talent acquisitions, EXC has signed an interesting assortment of production help, signing on former WFA CEO Jeremy Lappen, who reportedly stepped in earlier in the week as the dust from the UFC’s buyout of his organization settled.

The motley duo of Mario "Dancing with the Stars" Lopez and Bill Goldberg will helm the commentary booth, while the season two "Apprentice" winner Kelly Perdew will head up the online wing of the promotion.

Despite his great success flattening Ceasar Gracie in the first Strikeforce promotion, Frank Shamrock proclaimed his true ambition was for Renzo. "He’s the Gracie I’ve always wanted to fight," Shamrock said after his introduction. "It’s always been my goal. This is our moment. I’ve taken a lot of chances in my career. Some of them have been good, some of them have been bad, but what you will see on February 10th is Frank Shamrock baring his soul. It’s a beautiful and incredibly violent thing."

EXC Press Photo (from left to right): Renzo Gracie, Frank Shamrock, Gary Shaw - Photo by Tom Casino/EliteXC
Renzo Gracie (left) vs. Frank Shamrock

Citing an unspecified "business relationship" with Strikeforce, Shamrock stated he will fulfill his fight obligations to the San Jose promotion in addition to his new role in the EXC. The exact timeline of his next Strikeforce appearance was not given, but it is presumed that it would be after his Showtime debut.

Fellow IFL coach Gracie was similarly excited at the prospect of fighting a Shamrock. "I was afraid he would wait until I was too old to fight him," he said with a laugh. "I hope to see the guy that beat Tito Ortiz, showing an unbelievable display of power and technique."

In his description of the fight during the press conference, the colorful Gary Shaw revealed a potentially staggering rule stipulation he was trying to implement, allowing fighters only 15 seconds to work on the ground before being stood up. When asked to clarify later, Shaw and his camp amended the earlier statement, saying they would most likely adopt the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s set of rules, but wanted it in place nonetheless.

Also of particular note was co-promoter Doug De Luca’s stated intention of holding a World Cup of MMA with a possible Olympic bid in 5 years. "It’s been an exclusive situation," De Luca said of the prevailing non-cooperation between different promotions. "We are an inclusive group, and our organization will be happy to work with other organizations and to let true champions fight other champions."

Whether a World Cup of MMA is around the corner is unknown, but on February 10th, the sport will see another well financed organization take a crack at stealing market share from the dominant UFC.

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posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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