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Bidding Wars Coming to MMA? EliteXC Could Use CBS Deal to Add UFC Talent

In the sport of mixed martial arts, UFC is unquestionably the leading organization, and it's not even close. Other MMA promotions exist, but they haven't even come close to reaching the levels of popularity -- or the levels of fighting talent -- that UFC has achieved.

But EliteXC has a chance of challenging UFC, thanks to a deal that will put it on CBS. Even if they do disappointing ratings by network television standards, the fights CBS will televise on May 31 will instantly become the most-watched fights in American MMA history.

And if EliteXC is smart, it will use that to attract top fighters away from UFC. Dan Stupp of the Dayton Daily News reports that EliteXC is looking to do just that. There's a real possibility that a number of the top fighters in UFC will head over to EliteXC -- or sign with Mark Cuban, whose organization is in its infancy but who hopes to build an MMA empire -- when their contracts expire.

Will that result in a bidding war for the services of big-name fighters like Chuck Liddell? It could, but I think it's more likely that second-tier fighters will be promised more exposure and more money for leaving UFC.

That's not necessarily good for the sport: The worst thing that could happen to mixed martial arts would be EliteXC, UFC and Cuban all signing top fighters to contracts that prevent them from fighting each other. But if the organizations would allow their fighters to fight across promotions -- the way the two top promoters in boxing, Oscar De La Hoya and Bob Arum, sometimes co-promote fights -- that could be good for the sport. It would certainly be good for the fighters' bottom lines.

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