Brandon Vera To Leave UFC For EXC/Showtime?


The following is an article from the L.A. Times:

Mixed martial arts groups to fight for fighters

Elite Xtreme Combat is introduced as a competitor to Ultimate Fighting Championship.

By Lance Pugmire, Times Staff Writer
December 15, 2006

Emerging as a potential challenger to Ultimate Fighting Championship, Elite Xtreme Combat, a new mixed martial arts organization — Showtime television contract in hand — was introduced Thursday.

Elite XC arrived on the scene the same week UFC announced its purchase of a second-tier mixed martial arts circuit known as World Fighting Alliance.

And in announcing the main event of its first card, Elite XC said that Frank Shamrock, who was UFC's first middleweight champion, would fight veteran Renzo Gracie on Feb. 10 in Southaven, Miss.

“I won't interfere with a contract, but we've been contacted by other fighters and I do want to work with other fighters,” said Elite XC President Gary Shaw, a veteran boxing promoter. “If they're coming out of contracts, we'll talk.”

Shaw had one of those conversations Thursday when unbeaten UFC heavyweight Brandon Vera (8-0) attended the Elite XC news conference at Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel, and said he had only one fight remaining on his UFC contract.

“Whoever wants to take care of me the best,” Vera, 29, said when asked what organization he would continue fighting with.

Said Vera's manager, Mark Dion, “If UFC wants to keep all of its fighters in house, they can, but it's people like [Elite XC], who have money and a platform like Showtime, who will compete for fighters now. This is the first time UFC is not the monopoly.”

Shaw announced that Elite XC and Showtime had struck a three-year deal to televise at least six cards in 2007, eight in 2008, and 10 in 2009, with two pay-per-view cards scheduled for next year. Elite XC fighters will battle in a chain-linked, circular ring known as “the cage,” Shaw said, a twist on UFC's octagon.

“There are plenty of kids out there who haven't had a sufficient opportunity to fight who they want to in UFC,” Shaw said. “I don't care how big [UFC is], they can only handle so many fighters. You can't keep 50 stars happy. I think it'll be hard for them to retain every athlete.”

Elite XC Chief Executive Doug DeLuca said he envisioned an MMA future that would allow fighters in his organization to have bouts against UFC opponents, but UFC President Dana White dismissed the new organization.

“No one in that business has a clue how to do MMA,” said White, whose organization is anticipating a $4-million live gate for its Dec. 30 title fight pitting light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell against Tito Ortiz in Las Vegas. “I've never lost a big star in my six years here. A couple other organizations, who had more talent, with guys who knew more, have already tried to do what these guys are, and they've failed. These guys don't know the difference between MMA and thumb wrestling.”

White said UFC was in negotiation with HBO to have some of its cards televised “very soon.”

HBO Sports President Ross Greenberg said, “We have been tracking and talking with the UFC for a long time, but beyond that I really can't say much.”

Shamrock, 34, defeated Ortiz in 1999 and then relinquished his title by retiring from the UFC, ripping his former organization.

“The problem is that the top five guys in UFC make all the money, and the rest make scraps.” Shamrock said.

Shaw said Elite XC had fewer than 10 fighters under contract, including a woman, Gina Carano, and K.J. Noons, a fighter whom Shaw will promote in boxing as well as MMA.

He predicted, “Some big names will sign with us, but we'll also establish our own fighters.”

Showtime's broadcasters will be former pro wrestler Bill Goldberg and actor Mario Lopez.

Times staff writer Larry Stewart contributed to this report.


Latest MMA News

Derrick Lewis

Derrick Lewis on Francis Ngannou: ‘That Guy is Real Ignorant’

Derrick Lewis isn't fond of Francis Ngannou's assessment of his skills. Back in March, Ngannou said he wasn't impressed by Lewis. "The Predator" said fighting...
Misha Cirkunov

Misha Cirkunov Says He’s ‘Very Surprised’ Nikita Krylov is no Longer With UFC

Misha Cirkunov is a bit puzzled that Nikita Krylov isn't with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) anymore. Cirkunov's last bout was against Krylov back in...
T.J. Dillashaw UFC

Mighty Mouse vs. T.J. Dillashaw Being Looked At For August: White

With Cody Garbrandt's back troubles causing the previously announced Garbrandt vs. Dillashaw bout to be pulled from UFC 213, the UFC is looking at...
Yoel Romero

Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker Set For Interim Title Bout at UFC 213

The stage is set for an interim title bout between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker. UFC 213 was supposed to be headlined by a bantamweight...
Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib Nurmagomedov Has Sights Set on Interim Title Bout in October

Khabib Nurmagomedov is eyeing an interim lightweight title bout this fall. At UFC 209 back in March, "The Eagle" was set to do battle against...
Dana White

Dana White on Cris Cyborg-Angela Magana Incident: ‘It’s Very Serious’

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White recognizes the severity of Cris Cyborg's incident at a recent Athlete Retreat. Cyborg and Angela Magana had a...
Lorenz Larkin

Lorenz Larkin on UFC Run: ‘That’s a Chapter in my Life That’s Gone’

Lorenz Larkin wants to leave his time with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the past. Larkin will be making his Bellator debut on June...
Rory MacDonald Weigh-In

Rory MacDonald Says UFC ‘Easily Let Things Slip Through Their Fingers’

Rory MacDonald feels the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) doesn't keep tabs on things as much as they should. After losses to Robbie Lawler and Stephen...
Jorge Masvidal

Jorge Masvidal: ‘I Only Want The Highest-Ranked Dudes’

Jorge Masvidal is ready to dust himself off and move on to the next one. At UFC 211, Masvidal took on Demian Maia inside the...
Cris Cyborg

Cris Cyborg Releases Statement on Incident With Angela Magana

Things got physical between Cris Cyborg and Angela Magana at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Athlete Retreat. In a video released by Cage Pages, Cyborg...