CBS SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS and STRIKEFORCE mixed martial arts (MMA) return to network primetime television with a world-class lineup featuring three title fights and five of the top MMA fighters in the world from their respective weight classes, on Saturday, April 17 (9:00 PM, ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. The event will be broadcast live from the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Dan Henderson (25-7-0), one of the most decorated fighters in MMA history, makes his STRIKEFORCE debut in the evening’s main event against champion Jake Shields (24-4-1) as the two battle for the STRIKEFORCE Middleweight Title. Both Shields and Henderson are ranked as two of the top five middleweights in the world.
This event also marks the first time Henderson, who left the UFC and signed a four-fight deal with STRIKEFORCE in December 2009, will fight in front of a network primetime audience. A two-time United States Olympic wrestling team member (1992, 1996), Henderson is also the only fighter in the sport’s history to simultaneously hold two different titles in two different weight classes (welterweight and heavyweight) for a major fight promotion (PRIDE Fighting Championships).
“We are excited about returning to CBS Primetime with a card featuring some of the top mixed martial arts fighters in the world, including three title fights and the STRIKEFORCE debut of MMA legend, Dan Henderson,” said Scott Coker, Founder and CEO of STRIKEFORCE. “CBS has shown a tremendous commitment to furthering the sport of MMA on network television and we appreciate the home they have given STRIKEFORCE to deliver world class cards for MMA fans everywhere.”
In addition to the main event championship bout, the night will also include two additional championship title fights. Gegard Mousasi (27-2-1), arguably the sport’s top light heavyweight, will face undefeated King Mo (6-0) for the STRIKEFORCE Light Heavyweight title. STRIKEFORCE champion Gilbert Melendez (17-2-0) puts his lightweight title on the line against DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki (23-4-0) in the evening’s third title bout.
“When you have one event with three championship fights and this many top-ranked athletes, it’s more than just a great card, it’s a big night for MMA,” said Kelly Kahl, Senior Executive Vice President, Primetime, CBS Television. “Audiences are going to see a great range of mixed martial arts skills, styles and talent on one broadcast.”
Last November’s CBS SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS, headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers, averaged 4.04m viewers, winning its time period among adults 18-34 and men 18-34, and delivering ratings significantly higher than the Network’s season-to-date averages in the time period among young adult and male demos. The ratings include a 1.8/06 in adults 18-49, 1.8/07 in adults 18-34, 2.6/07 in men 25-54, 2.5/08 in men 18-49 and 2.3/09 in men 18-34. The broadcast’s main event attracted 5.46 million viewers.
SHOWTIME Sports will produce the broadcast with host Gus Johnson calling the action and MMA legend Frank Shamrock and Mauro Ranallo serving as color analysts.