Q&A with ProElite CEO Champion
Chuck Champion said ProElite won't dissolve; will focus on other assets, like KOTC
The deals with CBS and Strikeforce were distinct and separate transactions
ProElite's 8K, out Feb. 11, will disclose the fighter contracts Strikeforce obtained
Just hours removed from Thursday's multi-faceted deal between Strikeforce, CBS, Showtime and ProElite Inc., Chuck Champion, the CEO of ProElite, took the time to speak with SI.com about the specifics of the transaction and the company's plans for the future.
SI.com: Sources indicated ProElite would dissolve and sell off its remaining assets. Is that correct?
Champion: No, that's not correct.
SI.com: OK, what is going to happen with ProElite as a company now?
Champion: ProElite as a company will focus on those assets that are making money, which is principally King of the Cage. There are a few other issues outstanding that will need to be resolved ... but there is capital in the bank in order to be able to do that. So, we'll look for what we do next, now. But this basically takes the company and makes it debt free, dispute free, litigation free. And we have an opportunity to concentrate on King of the Cage and other assets. And resolve the issues that are still outstanding with those. So it also gives the fighter an opportunity and a venue that we think is good for them. It was important piece of the puzzle for us.
SI.com: The television aspect of this, do you currently have any TV deals?
Champion: We have one with Fox Sports Net. We have a reality series that's launching with Mark Burnett. We are talking with others for King of the Cage fights.
SI.com: And what of the other branded promotions you have? Icon, it's my understanding a lawsuit was levied against T. Jay Thompson. Is that correct?
Champion: No, that's not correct. There is no litigation that the company has initiated towards T. Jay. And there has been no litigation from former employees of ProElite. We'll be circling back around to have conversations with all of these interested parties now that these two transactions have been completed.
SI.com: Can you run me through the second transaction.
Champion: There's a deal that was done with CBS and deal that was done with Strikeforce. They are separate and distinct transactions.
SI.com: Could you discuss the deal with CBS?
Champion: Simply that we've resolved all of the differences between us and they retired all the debt that existed between us. And, in essence, they will remain shareholders on a go-forward basis as common shareholders with no particular extra rights with their holdings. They will not have board representation. They will not have super-majority rights. They won't have any type of control rights over the company.
SI.com: They owned a 20-percent stake in the company before. Can you say what that stake is now?
Champion: It's the same. Their ownership stake in the company remains unchanged. Stock and the odds remain unchanged. What the process has done, contrary to what's been bantered about in the press, is that the relationships between us and Strikeforce have significantly improved as you might imagine over this. The relationship with CBS had been strained and [in] this process, as the press release will say, bridges have been built as opposed to burned. I was really pleased with how everybody stepped up -- the fighters, a lot of managers -- to make this stuff work. I think it's better for the sport. It's better for the stakeholders. And now we just entered a new chapter of what we're doing, and others have the opportunity to go out and continue to build their brand. I really do think it's been a painful process, but I'm pleased with where everything is in this moment.
SI.com: Can you speak to your frustration. I know a lot of the fighters were upset over how things were handled. You couldn't really comment on them. Can you talk about that period, and what it was like for you?
Champion: It's tough. These guys have fights and a living to make, and all of what went on made that difficult for them, frustrating for them. Being an executive of a publicly run company, as you're going through these transactions and trying to find the right solution, there's just not a lot you can say to very many people. I'm an open book, personally, and that book is on the shelf of a public library. My strengths, my weaknesses are out there for the world to look at and I've always operated that way. So to be in a situation where I have to shut my mouth and not be able to even speculate as to what may happen and how all this will work out was very difficult for me, because I understand how frustrating it was for them. They didn't know. There wasn't a lot of information. And quite frankly, there was a process by where things were constantly changing, and opportunities were being presented and evaluated.
It was a long process. This started in advance of Oct. 4 and continued all the way to this day. It's been a four-month, five-month process to bring it to the spot that it's at. We're not done yet. There's work that has to be done, and we're going to continue to do it. There are more issues we're going to address. But we're in a far better position than we've been in I can't remember how long. We're looking forward to the future.