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Tickets On Sale Tomorrow For EliteXC’s MMA Event Saturday, July 26, In Stockton

EliteXC LogoFans seeking to participate in the most significant sporting event in the recent history of Stockton, Calif. — an exciting evening of mixed martial arts, which includes two EliteXC world title fights — have the opportunity to reserve their seats now.

Tickets, starting at $35 for the Saturday, July 26 fight card at the Stockton Arena go on sale tomorrow/this Friday, June 27. The pre-sale for tickets continued today/Thursday, June 26. The fight card is presented by Los Angeles-based ProElite, Inc.’s live fight division, EliteXC.

Tickets can be purchased at the Stockton Arena Box Office (Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Saturday (noon-4 p.m.), by phone at (209) 373-1700 and (866) 373-7088 (toll free) or online at Doors open at 2:30 p.m. PT. The first live fight is at 3:15.

“We’re looking forward to staging this tremendous event at the beautiful Stockton Arena,’’ said Douglas DeLuca, Executive Chairman, ProElite, Inc. “Local fans not only will get a chance to watch some of the best fighters in EliteXC, but some of the best in the world.

“With so many fighters from the area — Nick Diaz (Stockton), Scott Smith (Elk Grove) and Jake Shield (San Francisco) — Stockton is a perfect fit. We’ll rock the arena and sell it out. This show will appeal to new and established fans, whether they’re in attendance or watching on television.

“The record-breaking numbers for the history-making May 31 CBS telecast said it all. There definitely is a place and a primetime audience for mixed martial arts on network TV. May 31 was a ratings success and Saturday, July 26, on CBS — and SHOWTIME — will be one too. We’re all excited about our lineup for Stockton and working with CBS and SHOWTIME again.’’

EliteXC was the first to present mixed martial arts on a premium network (SHOWTIME) and in primetime on network television (CBS). On Saturday, July 26, EliteXC will offer back-to-back CBS and SHOWTIME telecasts.

The second half of the televised card will be the second mixed martial arts event shown live in primetime on network television.

CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS will air live on the CBS Television Network at 9-11 p.m. ET/PT. The inaugural May 31 broadcast was a ratings success, peaking at 6.51 million viewers.

A four-fight, two-hour CBS broadcast will be preceded by a three-fight, one-hour telecast live on SHOWTIME (8 p.m. ET/PT), which has televised MMA since February 2007. A fight featuring promising heavyweight Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (10-1) will highlight the show.

EliteXC middleweight champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (15-4, 1 NC) of Granite City, Ill., via St. Louis, by way of Davenport, Iowa, and Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith (13-4, 1 NC) will clash in an eagerly awaited rematch in the main event of “Saturday Night Fights: Lawler-Smith II’’ on CBS.

In a second world title fight, Jake Shields (20-4-1) and Nick Thompson (36-9-1) will collide for the vacant EliteXC 170-pound belt. Both fighters are on a roll. Shields has won nine in a row. Thompson, of Minneapolis, has won 12 straight and 21 of 22. Shields hasn’t lost in more than three years, Thompson in more than two. The world title fights are scheduled for five, five-minute rounds.

With a likely grudge rematch with EliteXC lightweight champion KJ Noons hanging in the balance, hometown hero Nick Diaz will seek his third victory in three months when he faces Thomas “Wildman’’ Denny (26-16) in one of the two, three-round, five-minute scraps on CBS.

Other matchups will be announced in the near future. Fans can watch pre- and post-fight interviews at (see Fighter Pages below).

The crowd-pleasing Lawler and the hard-hitting Smith fought May 31 on CBS in Newark, N.J. To the dismay of the fighters and some fans, a hotly contested, dead even fight seemingly on its way to becoming an instant classic ended in a controversial No Contest.

A thriller in which both had won a round was halted, some insist prematurely, at 3:26 of the third round after Smith was accidentally poked in the eye and deemed unable to continue. Despite his pleas to the contrary, the fight was called by cage-side doctors.

A disappointing, unsatisfactory conclusion made an immediate rematch almost automatic. Lawler and Smith do indeed have unfinished business.

“I’m looking forward to fighting him again,’’ said the soft-spoken, serious-minded Lawler, who captured the EliteXC 185-pound belt with a dramatic, convincing third-round TKO (strikes) over defending champion Murilo “Ninja” Rua on Sept. 15, 2007, in Honolulu on SHOWTIME.

“Smith is a tough guy, but I felt pretty good out there and thought I was winning. It’s too bad it ended that way.’’

Said Smith, who owns a gym in Sacramento: “Neither one of us wanted the fight to end that way, so we definitely have some unfinished business we need to take care of. I wanted to continue fighting. I’m more confident going into this rematch than I was going into the first fight. It will be exciting fighting so close to home. Elk Grove is literally just a few minutes from Stockton.’’

Fighting twice in seven weeks will not be a factor for Lawler. “Timing-wise, it is fine for me,’’ said a determined, dedicated, always dangerous southpaw who is known for aggressiveness and a swing-for-the-fences style, but has performed with intelligence and poise in recent outings.

“I was good for the last one, but I’ll be great for this one,” Lawler added. “I’ll be faster and stronger. I’ve been in the gym almost every day since the first fight. Every fight for me is equal to the other. They are all big, at the time. I’m ready to go.’’

Smith is a “freestyle” fighter and knockout artist who comes out throwing bombs with an abandon that’s made him a huge fan favorite. Aptly nicknamed “Hands Of Steel’’ — he’s a union field foreman in his family’s steel business – Smith has won 13 of his 15 fights by KO or TKO.

But one of the most dangerous strikers in the business also owns a strong wrestling background and possesses terrific cardio. “I train hard in all aspects of the game,’’ Smith said.

Smith, who says the foot he injured against Lawler is “100 percent,’’ detests fights that go the distance. So one only can imagine what he may have been thinking when the fight with Lawler ended like it did. “Not once did I ever say, ‘I want to stop this fight’ ’’ Smith said.

“I’m too smart and experienced for that. I was just blown away when it was stopped.’’

The Shields-Thompson matchup to decide the first EliteXC welterweight belt-holder should be a fantastic technical fight between two of the best all-around fighters in the world at 170. Those tuning in to CBS will see a different-type style matchup than they saw on May 31.

For Shields, a life-long vegetarian who was raised in a remote area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, the shot at the EliteXC crown has been a long time coming.

“This is my dream come true. I’m really excited,’’ said Shields, a former college wrestler at San Francisco State and now a Cesar Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. Shields has notable triumphs over Yushin Okami, Dave Menne, Hayato Sakurai and Carlos Condit.

“This is really a great fight. Nick’s definitely a great opponent. I respect him. He’s experienced, game and very tough. It’ll be exciting fighting so close to home in Stockton in front of friends and family, but I know I will have my work cut out.’’

Due to a couple of postponements and a back injury, Shields will be making his first start since he defeated Mike Pyle at EliteXC’s event on Nov. 10, 2007 on SHOWTIME.

“There will be no excuses. My back is 100 percent,” said Shields, who’s unbeaten since December 2004. “I struggled with it a lot longer than I wanted, but I knew if I was patient and did the right things my time would come. In a way it was a blessing. Now, I am more motivated than ever.”

Thompson is the third fighter from Minneapolis to appear on CBS, joining Brett Rogers and Kaitlin Young, who fought on the historic May 31 event.

The last Bodog welterweight belt-holder, Thompson is experienced and certainly no easy mark. For sure, his work rate can’t be faulted. Amazingly, this will be his 47th fight since he turned pro less than five and half years ago. He hasn’t been defeated since April 2006. In his last start, he scored a second-round submission (kimura) over Michael Costa on June 8, 2008.

“A fight with Jake has been my No. 1 choice for a long time,” said Thompson, who owns a victory over highly regarded Eddie Alvarez and also has whipped the likes of Chris Wilson, Josh Neer and Brian Gassaway. “I think we both wanted this fight. That the fight is on CBS is a huge opportunity exposure-wise and an added bonus.’’

Diaz is a true hard-core MMA fighter who’s willing to “fight anybody who thinks they’re better than me.’’ On June 14, he scored a third-round TKO over Muhsin Corbbrey one fight before Noons retained his crown by demolishing Yves Edwards in 48 seconds on SHOWTIME.

After the Noons’ fight, Diaz was invited inside the cage to discuss a rematch but heated words were exchanged and a scuffle between the fighters’ camps ensued. “I’m not a punk. I did not start it,’’ Diaz said. “Noons is a poser. His side started it. I was just doing my job.’’

Diaz wants desperately to settle the score with Noons, who won their first fight and the EliteXC title by TKO (cuts) on Nov. 10, 2007, on SHOWTIME. It was a result that did not sit well with Diaz or some fans and the smack talk has escalated ever since.

“Everybody knows the deal with Noons and the kind of guy he is,’’ Diaz said. “But my focus is only on this fight. KJ knows his days are numbered. He can’t run from me forever.’’

A colorful fighter known for wild and crazy hairstyles, Denny, of Victorville, Calif., via Huntington Beach, Calif., is a crowd-pleasing, crafty veteran who has won four of his last five.

Denny, who likes to keep it on the ground, specializes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling and Muay Thai kickboxing. His self-proclaimed signature moves are “knees and elbows.’’ But, mostly, Denny likes to “give pain. I like to make my opponent suffer.’’

A former King of the Cage champion, Denny is coming off a first-round disqualification victory over Malaipet on March 21, 2008, on ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series. Denny had mostly totally dominated until Malaipet was DQ’d for illegal elbows to the back of the head.

The outspoken, oft-misunderstood Diaz has drawn both criticism and praise for his “tough guy’’ tirades, but Denny does not seem to mind. “I think his antics are entertaining, but it will be more entertaining when I punch him in the face,’’ he said.

Silva is coming off a hard-fought, three-round split decision victory over former champion Ricco Rodriguez on Feb. 16, 2008, on SHOWTIME. Silva, whose initial nine victories had come in the first round, won by the scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29.

“I know I can fight better than I did the last time,’’ said Silva, who possesses excellent striking and grappling skills and moves extremely well for a fighter his size. “My goal is to prove I’m the No. 1 heavyweight in the world. I want that heavyweight title belt.”

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