Until just a few days ago, Showtime's choice of MMA programming was still a matter in question. It was unclear whether the premium cable provider would ride with Strikeforce, or drop the Zuffa-owned promotion in exchange for an exclusive relationship with M-1 Global. However, now that Strikeforce and Showtime have reached a conditional 8-show agreement for 2012, M-1 Global's presence on Showtime is on the negotiation table.
Strikeforce's new deal with Showtime does not include the Strikeforce Challengers series that showcased up-and-coming talent. The new format will bring otherwise 'Challegers'-type events into preliminary bouts that will be aired on Showtime Extreme before main card bouts on Showtime HD.
Yesterday, Showtime Sports Vice President Stephen Espinoza joined MMAFighting.com's MMA Hour Radio Show where he made the following comment:
"We are in discussions with M-1 to continue our relationship and we actually hope that we are going to be contiuning for at least another year. And things looks good that we are going to be able to do so."The absence of Strikeforce Challengers makes room for M-1's M-1 Challenge series, which in the past, has been a team-based format, with teams representing national/regional designations. This appears to be the focus of talks between Showtime and M-1 Global.