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Strikeforce Could Buy EliteXC, but Will Kimbo, Gina and CBS Come With It?

More than four months after Seth Petruzelli knocked out Kimbo Slice and, in the process, knocked EliteXC out of the mixed martial arts business, it appears that the rival promotion Strikeforce is on the verge of purchasing EliteXC's remaining assets.

Josh Gross of SI.com reports that even though officials deny the deal is done, it could become official this week. If Strikeforce does buy EliteXC, it would be welcome news in the MMA world because Strikeforce is a well-run company, and anything that puts the EliteXC mess behind us is a good thing. But the truth is, the only really valuable assets that EliteXC had are the contracts of its top fighters and its contract to put fights on CBS, and at this point, we really don't know whether Strikeforce would get those contracts if it gets EliteXC.

EliteXC had two fighters who are proven draws, Kimbo and Gina Carano. Kimbo is certainly not as big a draw now as he was before Petruzelli whipped him, but he's still a name who can get TV viewers to tune in. Carano is by far the biggest star in women's MMA. A few other EliteXC fighters, most notably Jake Shields and Robbie Lawler, are talented enough that any MMA organization would be happy to have them, even though they lack the star power of Kimbo and Carano.

So would Strikeforce become the home of Kimbo, Carano, Shields and Lawler if it purchased EliteXC? Not necessarily. The early indications are that most of the fighters' contracts aren't transferrable, so they would become free agents, and they wouldn't necessarily sign with Strikeforce. In fact, my own guess is that none of those four would end up in Strikeforce; I think Kimbo is going to fight in Japan, while Carano could become Zuffa's first female star by signing with the WEC, and Shileds and Lawler would probably sign with UFC.

Then there's the matter of the CBS contract. I believe CBS will televise live MMA programming in prime time at some point in 2009, but it won't necessarily be with Strikeforce or anyone else who ends up with EliteXC's assets. CBS just wants to televise MMA because it views MMA as a way to draw a young, male, advertiser-friendly audience. The network doesn't much care whether that MMA is EliteXC, Strikeforce or any other organization.

The bottom line, then, is that we really don't know whether Strikeforce buying EliteXC is a big deal. The only thing we know for sure is that the sooner this all ends, the better.

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