Strikeforce extends contract with Showtime until 2014

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UFC President Dana White told us "Strikeforce lives" and he wasn't lying.

It was announced today that Strikeforce has reached a new broadcast agreement with Showtime to continue broadcasting events through the year 2014. From the press release:

Under the new agreement, SHOWTIME will produce and televise up to eight live events. STRIKEFORCE athletes such as lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, women's featherweight champion Cris "Cyborg" Santos, women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate and other world-class MMA fighters will continue to compete for the organization on SHOWTIME.

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.

Under the new deal, the World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament champion will be determined when Josh Barnett battles Daniel Cormier. The winner will compete again on SHOWTIME under the STRIKEFORCE banner in the months to follow.

As early as two months ago, Strikeforce appeared to be on its deathbed, simply awaiting Dana White to come along and pull the plug when he so desired.

Now, it may not be "business as usual" but there's room for a hexagon when the Octagon isn't in town.

Scott Coker will continue to run the day-to-day operations as the leader of the promotion but White will oversee the organization and be in attendance at most major live events, which includes this Saturday night's (Dec. 17) "Melendez vs. Masvidal" fight card.

But wait, there's more. Much, much more.

Here are the big tidbits from the Strikeforce conference call held today:

  • The Strikeforce heavyweight division is going away after a winner of the grand prix is crowned. There may be one fight with the winner after the tournament is over but that's simply for the benefit of Showtime, who asked for that as a condition of the deal. There simply isn't enough depth to keep the heavyweight division around, so relevant heavyweights can expect to move over to UFC in the very near future.
  • The women's divisions will remain as is with White stating there is the 135-pound division and then there is Cyborg. Indeed.
  • Gilbert Melendez is apparently "really f'n excited" about staying in Strikeforce, even though he spoke endlessly about wanting to fight inside the Octagon. There are currently no plans to bring him over to the UFC.
  • New champions will be crowned in the light heavyweight and welterweight divisions soon.
  • All your favorite commentators are sticking around, including Gus Johnson, Mauro Ranallo, Frank Shamrock and Stephen Quadros.
  • There will be 6-8 events per year with an option to do more. Between both UFC and Strikeforce, Zuffa will run 40 events in 2012. In related news, my weekend night life is completely shot. Thanks, MMA!
  • Strikeforce Challengers is dead and gone because it was "set up to fail," according to White.
  • Nothing is set in stone but fight night bonuses are likely coming to Strikeforce.
  • White wanted to emphasis that this is not a "feeder league" and the champions in Strikeforce will not be considered "secondary" to those in the UFC. That's kind of an impossibility but that's the official company line, for obvious reasons.

And there you have it, Maniacs. Thoughts on this latest developments?

To get all the relevant quotes and notes from the Strikeforce conference call held today, check out the live blog right here.

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