Less than two years following the formation of ProElite, Inc., an entertainment and media company founded in partnership with Showtime Networks and spearheaded by the mixed martial arts promotional brand EliteXC, the group notified employees and fighters Monday it was shutting its doors effective immediately, multiple sources confirmed to SI.com.
Representatives for ProElite, EliteXC and Showtime did not return calls for comment.
Through its partnership with Showtime and later CBS, which in 2008 agreed to broadcast four live EliteXC events in primetime, EliteXC gained a tremendous amount of visibility. The company, however, hemorrhaged tens of millions of dollars during its 22 months in operation.
In September, Showtime, which owned a 20 percent stake in ProElite, entered into preliminary negotiations to purchase a controlling interest in the company. When those negotiations failed, said a source inside ProElite who asked not to be identified, funding dried up and the company was forced out of business.
Beginning with Rumble on the Rock, ProElite purchased numerous MMA promotional brands around the world, including King of the Cage, Cage Rage, ICON, and Spirit MC. While these companies remained in operation, the focus was EliteXC, which held 17 events starting with its first card Feb. 10, 2007.
EliteXC's third card with CBS on Oct. 4 was also its last as a promoter. Headlined by the controversial Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson, the event made headlines with discussion surrounding the legitimacy of the main event between Ferguson and Seth Petruzelli. The bout is currently under investigation by the Florida State Athletic Commission.
After debuting on May 31 to an audience of 6.5 million viewers, EliteXC's ratings on CBS fell significantly in its second effort drawing just 2.7 million in July. In its last event the numbers appeared to bounce back nicely, with an average audience of 4.5 million.
Kelly Kahl, Senior executive vice president of programming operations at CBS, declined to comment on ProElite's demise.
EliteXC was scheduled to promote its final event of the year Nov. 8 on Showtime, however the manager for lightweight Nick Diaz, who was scheduled to fight Eddie Alvarez that night for the organization's 160-pound belt, said he was told the event would not take place absent a last-minute "miracle" investor.