NBC orders mixed martial arts series


NBC is getting into the mixed martial arts genre.

The network has ordered a new MMA series as a companion for its late night "Poker After Dark" program.

"Strikeforce on NBC" will premiere April 12 and is billed as the first weekly MMA series to air on broadcast television. The half-hour program will air in wee hours, from 2 to 2:30 a.m.

MMA, where fighters of different martial disciplines compete in cage match bouts, has been a success for cable network Spike TV and is very popular as a pay-per-view event under the Ultimate Fighting Championships banner.

CBS is also getting into the genre, with four "CBS EliteXC Saturday Night Fights" specials scheduled to debut on Saturday nights starting May 31. And G4 is developing an MMA series hosted by fighter Tito Ortiz.

"Mixed martial arts has exploded onto the sports scene. Its athletes are tremendous competitors and the sport is one of the fastest growing in the world," said Jerry Petry, executive vp, NBC Universal Television. "As a leader in this arena, 'Strikeforce' will be able to deliver some of the finest and most intense action ever seen on broadcast TV."