Major news in the world of MMA this evening, as SI.com’s Josh Gross has reported that ProElite (which owns and operated Elite XC) notified its fighters and staff that they are shutting down.

“Less than two years following the formation of ProElite, Inc., the group notified employees and fighters Monday it was shutting its doors effective immediately…. ProElite was an entertainment and media company founded in partnership with Showtime Networks and spearheaded by the mixed martial arts promotional brand EliteXC. Representatives for ProElite, EliteXC and Showtime did not return calls for comment.

…After debuting on May 31 to an audience of 6.5 million viewers, EliteXC’s ratings on CBS fell significantly in its second effort drawing just 2.7 million in July. In its last event the numbers appeared to bounce back nicely, with an average audience of 4.5 million.

Kelly Kahl, senior executive vice president of programming operations at CBS, declined to comment on ProElite’s demise.”

If this indeed turns out to be the real deal, it lends ultimate truth to the sentiments of long-time MMA fans, UFC President Dana White, and other industry notables, that Elite XC was always headed for failure. This was widely rumored and strongly believed to be inevitable due to the serious financial troubles (aka massive debt) that the organization(s) encountered from nearly the start.

Elite XC / ProElite has received and continues to receive widespread criticism on the web from mixed martial arts fans who pound home accusations of fixed fights. These accusations received fuel for the fire, when Seth Petruzelli knocked out Elite XC poster boy Kimbo Slice on October 4th. Slice was originally scheduled to “fight” Ken Shamrock, but a last minute injury forced organization officials to scramble for a new opponent, resulting in Petruzelli. Seth needed only 14 seconds of the first round to dismantle the highly-hyped Kevin Ferguson aka “Kimbo Slice”. Elite XC’s troubles didn’t stop there, when Petruzelli announced that he was paid to stand-up in the fight.

Pending investigation, accumulated debt, a deal with SHO that apparently didn’t go through, thin divisons, weak CBS ratings and an increasingly overall perceived lack of quality in their product by the public could have very well sealed ProElite, and subsequently Elite XC’s fate, forever.

>> Read Josh Gross’s piece in full, here.