THQ locks up UFC license

Publisher steps into The Octagon, signs on to make games based on mixed martial arts brand for the next five years.

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THQ has long been a purveyor of sweaty, half-naked men grappling with one another, having published numerous wrestling games based on the WWE in the past decade, as well as several WCW titles before that. Today the company announced that it would add to that heritage with an exclusive worldwide licensing deal to publish games based on the Ultimate Fighting Championship brand through 2011.

Unlike THQ's other aforementioned licenses, the UFC is an unscripted competition in which combatants from around the world enter an eight-sided cage known as The Octagon and fight each other with few ground rules. Part of the UFC's attraction is the mixing and matching of different martial arts used by its fighters, including kickboxing, karate, judo, wrestling, boxing, and more.

Under the agreement, THQ is able to create games for all current and next-gen platforms, handhelds, and PCs. The publisher also gets "certain wireless rights" under the deal.

The UFC has been running Pay-Per-View events since 1993, but in recent years has found growing prominence on cable, with the reality TV series "The Ultimate Fighter" entering its fifth season on Spike TV. The UFC is also one of Microsoft's content partners for downloadable shows over Xbox Live Video Marketplace.

Several game companies have taken a swing at the license before, starting with Crave's Ultimate Fighting Championship on the Dreamcast, which was developed by Anchor. While it was critically well received, subsequent UFC games did not fare as well, and the license has been dormant since 2004's UFC: Sudden Impact.

THQ has not yet announced a developer or a release window for the first game.

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