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Three-year deal will kick off with a live match on Feb. 10

Showtime has partnered with Pro Elite to bring Mixed Martial Arts events to the pay network beginning next year.

Three-year deal will kick off with a live match on Feb. 10; subsequent events are scheduled through 2009.

MMA combines elements of judo, jiu-jitsu, karate, wrestling and kickboxing. It is sanctioned as a sport in more than 20 states, with others expected to join.

Ken Hershman, Showtime senior VP-general manager of sports/events, said MMA is a huge draw among men 18-34 and expects it to perform as well as “Ultimate Fighting Championship,” a similar franchise that airs on Spike TV.

Pro Elite and Rumble World Entertainment will promote the events.

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