Showtime Sports won't let a dispute with its former mixed martial arts promotional partner keep it from broadcasting the sport as soon as January, SI.com has learned.
The premium cable network, in conjunction with Golden Boy Promotions, will distribute and produce Affliction's Jan. 24 pay-per-view card topped by a five-round fight between WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko and former UFC titleholder Andrei Arlovski.
Official announcement will come Monday, confirmed Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio.
In addition to Emelianenko-Arlovski -- a first meeting for Europe's best heavyweight mixed martial artists -- Matt Lindland is set to fight Renato "Babalu" Sobral, both of whom reigned victorious in the promotion's debut on July 19. Vitor Belfort, also a winner on the summer card, is expected to fight, though a rumored bout with Dream 2008 middleweight grand prix champion Gegard Mousasi appears unlikely, said Atencio.
The evening's undercard, headlined by a light heavyweight tilt between AntonioRogerio Nogueira and Vladimir Matyushenko, will air uninterrupted on HDNet. Kiril Sidelnikov -- whom Atencio referred to as "Baby Fedor" despite the fact the Russian has two losses in six fights compared to his fellow countryman's one defeat in 30 -- meets slugger Paul Buentello as well.
Additional fights will be announced next week.
Showtime, which first offered MMA in January 2007 as a stakeholder in ProElite, announced earlier this month an auction of the failed company's assets to recover collateral after two promissory notes totaling $4 million were defaulted upon. Executives at the network have declined comment on ProElite's failure or the auction, which ProElite hopes to avert through fundraising or negotiation but may ultimately avoid by filing for bankruptcy.
The auction notice also prompted industry agents and managers to issue a joint statement in opposition of Showtime's maneuver making certain ProElite fighter contracts eligible for sale. The overriding belief is fighters should be freed from their deals after ProElite was in breach.