Shields-Fickett, Villasenor-Cyborg Added To Strikeforce

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John Beyrooty from EliteXC/Showtime sent along the following:

JAKE SHIELDS, DREW FICKETT READY TO BELT IT OUT FOR VACANT ELITEXC WELTERWEIGHT WORLD TITLE

Joey Villasenor, `Cyborg’ Santos Clash in One of Top `Shamrock vs. Le’ Undercard Bouts On Fantastic Event Saturday, March 29, At HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.; Tickets On Sale

LOS ANGELES (March 11, 2008) — Weeks after he was awarded a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, Jake Shields will try to add another belt to his wardrobe when he faces Drew Fickett for the vacant EliteXC world welterweight crown March 29, at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

In another outstanding match on a sensational mixed martial arts card headlined by a Strikeforce middleweight title fight between defending champion Frank Shamrock and Cung Le, former Pride Fighting Championship star Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos will throw down with EliteXC standout Joey “Dream Smasher” Villasenor in a middleweight scrap.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale at HP Pavilion (408) 287-7070, at Ticketmaster locations (408) 998-TIXS, Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), EliteXC’s official website (www.ProElite.com) and Strikeforce’s official website (www.Strikeforceusa.net). Doors will open at 5 p.m. The first live fight is at 6 o’clock PT.

“A fight between popular Bay Area major draws and arch-rivals, the legendary Frank Shamrock and the unbeaten sensation, Cung Le, could sell out San Jose by itself, but this fight card will end up stacked from top to bottom,” EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw said.

The stellar eight-bout event will mark the second collaboration between Los Angeles-based ProElite, Inc.’s EliteXC, and Strikeforce. The first, which featured Shamrock versus Phil Baroni on June 22, 2007, in San Jose, was a major success.

“The HP Pavilion is a terrific venue that’s always drawn some of the biggest crowds in MMA,” Shaw said. “With the addition of a Shields-Fickett EliteXC world title fight and a great fight between Villasenor and Santos, fans in attendance and those watching on SHOWTIME will be treated to an outstanding night of fights.

“Jake’s been waiting to prove he’s the world’s best middleweight and now he gets his chance against a tough, talented veteran like Fickett. The Villasenor-Santos fight will be a war.”
In addition to the three aforementioned fights, two more bouts will be televised live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). Fans can watch pre- and post-fight interviews at ProElite.com.

Regarding the recently added matches, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said: “The Shields-Fickett and Santos-Villasenor fights are both highly competitive matchups, each bringing together fighters who are amongst the best in their area of expertise.

“In one, you have two heavy-handed punchers, almost guaranteeing there will be a knockout. In the other, you have two exceptional ground technicians who can submit an opponent from virtually any position on the mat.

“These are the types of fights that make MMA so great and unique and we're looking forward to bringing them to San Jose.”

The 170-pound title fight between Shields (20-4-1) and Fickett (31-5) will be a fun and terrific technical fight between two modest but supremely confident and talented submission artists in perhaps the toughest tests in their careers.

The winner will become EliteXC’s first world champ at welterweight and third overall. Robbie Lawler (middleweight) and KJ Noons (lightweight) are the other EliteXC belt-holders.

Unbeaten since December 2004 and a winner of nine in a row, including two straight by submission, Shields (http://jakeshields.proelite.com) has long been regarded as a monster in his weight class. Now, he has an opportunity to not only prove it but add even more credibility to his well-established name.

“This is my dream come true and I’m really excited,” said Shields, who re-signed with EliteXC in November 2007 and has gone 2-0 since. In impressive performances on SHOWTIME, Shields defeated “Charuto” Verissimo (strikes) and Mike Pyle (rear naked choke).

Shields, 29, a life-long vegetarian who was raised in a remote area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, holds notable victories over Dave Menne, Carlos Condit, Yushin Okami and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai.

“It was a little frustrating but I knew if I was patient my time would come and I’d get my shot at a world belt,” Shields said. “In a way it was a blessing in disguise I had to wait so long on the sidelines. I fought a lot of top 25 guys. That wealth of experience I gained is a great asset.

“This really is a good fight. I respect Drew. He’s game, experienced. I just think I’ll be too much. I’m going to overwhelm him, make an example of him. It’s a little nerve-wracking because I’ll have so many friends there, but it’s exciting to be fighting at the HP Pavilion.

“I am proud to be fighting for the EliteXC world title. They have treated me well, they have grown continually and now they’ve really blown up. I look forward to wearing and keeping the EliteXC belt around my waist for a while and representing the organization with pride.”

Fickett (http://drewfickett.proelite.com) is no stranger to major fights and won’t crumble under the pressure of being on the big stage and under the bright lights. He’s fully aware this is his chance to demonstrate he is among the world’s best in MMA.
“I’m definitely taking this fight seriously and am pretty motivated that’s for sure,” said Fickett, who could be Shields’ sternest challenge since Jake defeated Condit and Okami in back-to-back performances in April 2006. “I’m up for the challenge. Jake’s awesome. Some say he’s boring, but he chokes everybody and I like that. It’s cool and sounds pretty exciting to me.
“Jake has a real methodical game, but he’s smart and uses his strengths well. We both have a really competitive attitude so I guess we are similar in that regard. Style-wise, we may negate each other’s strengths, so that could mean this will wind up a pretty exciting fight.
“This is the kind of fight that I hope and expect will bring out the best in each of us.’'
A winner of three in a row, Fickett, 28, who was born in Tucson, Ariz., and resides in Phoenix, has a solid resume. He’s faced excellent opposition and owns wins over Kenny Florian, Josh Koscheck, Kurt Pellegrino, Josh Neer, Dennis Hallman, Carlo Prater and Edwin Dewees.
“I’ve been in and out of organizations and fought some great opponents, maybe not at the time but they were always very formidable and in the top 10,” said Fickett, who is coming off a first-round submission (rear naked choke) over Mark Weir on Dec. 1, 2007 in London.
A perennial contender at this weight, the experienced Fickett may be underrated by some but his record is as impressive as Shields’ — if not more so. “It’s hard to say if beat better guys because it all depends at where you are at — and everybody’s good at this level,” Fickett said.
Like Shields, Fickett is well-versed in the submission game and has forced opponents to surrender in nearly two thirds of his wins (20). Shields has won three of his last four fights by submission and has a total of seven in his career.
“Whatever way it ends, I will be 100 percent ready to go five rounds,” Fickett said. “No one wants to get into the fourth or fifth rounds and get tired and maybe get hurt.”
Fickett, who says his “last win is always the most important,” will be making his initial start for EliteXC. “I really like to be able to travel and do my own thing,” he said. “Gary (Shaw) has been very cool about signing me to an open contract which would enable me to do so.”
Santos, 30, a member of Brazil’s famed Chute Boxe squad, will be making his United States debut as well as the first of three fights he signed to compete for Strikeforce. A former light heavy (205 pounds), it will be the second bout of his 11-year career contested at 185.

“I always look for the knockout,” said Santos, a stone-faced striker whose go-for-broke, crowd-pleasing approach has helped him record 11 KOs out of his 15 victories. “This will be a duel between his boxing and my Muay Thai techniques. Villasenor is an ideal opponent for me.”
The bout with Villasenor will be Santos’ second in less than a month. In Tokyo March 5, he displayed vicious striking to twice knock down Makoto Takimoto en route to submitting (heel hook) the Olympic Games judo gold medalist in the first round and to snap a two-bout losing streak.
“Last year was a tough year for Chute Box and to those who fought in PRIDE, so it was important for me to get off to a good start in 2008,” Santos said. “The people who like to watch fights can always count on me to fight with determination and give it my all.
“Anybody who faces me knows they will have hard moments in the cage. My opponents know they need to get ready for a war because as long as I can breathe, I'll look for the win. I'm not saying I'll beat everybody, but I'll exchange blows with everybody. You can count on it.”
Villasenor (http://drewfickett.proelite.com), a native of Albuquerque, N.M., and a protg of MMA guru, Greg Jackson, will be seeking his second consecutive victory for EliteXC. Villasenor was penciled in to face Joe Riggs, but Riggs withdrew with a back injury.
In his last outing, Villasenor regained his winning ways with a hard-fought, split decision over Riki Fukuda on “Uprising” Sept. 15, 2007, in Honolulu, on SHOWTIME. It came one start after Villasenor suffered a second-round TKO to “Ninja” Rua for the EliteXC 185-pound title.
“There should be some real fireworks in this fight with Santos,” Villasenor, 32, a former King of the Cage champion said. “I really don’t know much about Santos’ ground game — if he even likes hanging out on the ground. I know he’s a big banger so it’s an exciting matchup.
“I need to be more technical than him and be better conditioned. Like wine, I think I get better with age. People should look for a more technically sound Joey Villasenor in 2008. This will be a great fight to kick off the year with.”

About ProElite:
ProElite Inc. [PELE.PK] delivers the most exciting entertainment experience in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) with live arena-based entertainment events, cable television programming on Showtime Networks and community-driven interactive broadband entertainment via the Internet. ProElite embraces MMA with the highest levels of honor, integrity, discipline and self-esteem all the while remaining inclusive for fighters, fans and schools. ProElite’s live fight division, EliteXC, delivers spectacular live MMA fight events that showcase the world’s top fighters [elitexc.com]. ProElite’s interactive business, ProElite.com, capitalizes on the growing popularity of the sport of mixed martial arts by building a community of MMA enthusiasts. In addition to streaming the most exciting live fights to the web, ProElite expands the fan base of the sport by providing a comprehensive set of online social networking tools for fans, fighters and organizations. ProElite.com — Empowering the Fight Community TM

About Strikeforce:
Strikeforce is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion which, on Friday, March 10, 2006, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to a sold-out, record crowd of 18,265. Since 1995, Strikeforce has been the exclusive provider of martial arts programming for ESPN and, after 12 years of success as a leading, world championship kickboxing promotion, the company unveiled its mixed martial arts series with “Shamrock vs. Gracie.” Since then, it has co-produced the first SHOWTIME PPV mixed martial arts event in history with its world championship “Shamrock vs. Baroni” card on June 22nd of this year followed by the first-ever mixed martial arts event at the world-famous Playboy Mansion on September 29th.

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