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MTV, HBO Focus on Life Outside Ring

1/09/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

MTV and HBO will
explore the lighter, characterdriven
side of the often brutal
sports of boxing and
mixed martial arts with the
January launches of two
new reality series.

MTV’s Caged explores
the lives of young, would-be
MMA fighters, and HBO’s
On Freddie Roach chronicles
the life of the legendary boxing
trainer. Each series will
look to appeal to both hardcore
fight fans and reality series
viewers, executives from
both networks said.

“[Caged] will appeal to the
MMA fans in general, but it’s
not a competition show; it’s a
docuseries that’s chronicling
real guys and their journey to the potential big time — it has
all the elements for a broad appeal reality show,” said David
Janollari, head of MTV programming.

Caged follows a group of friends from a small Louisiana
town looking to become elite fi ghters in caged or MMA
fighting, made popular by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Janollari said the fighting angle is a backdrop
to challenges the young people deal with in their everyday
lives.

“The show is not about cage fighting, per se, but it’s about
the galvanizing glue that kept this group together,” Janollari
said. “We’re really excited about exploring subcultures
and taking deep dives into worlds that exist in contemporary
life, and I think this is an incredibly unique world that
I haven’t seen portrayed in the way we’re approaching it.”

While the show represents MTV’s first foray into MMA,
Janollari is confi dent that the series will draw core millennial
viewers who watch UFC and other MMA content, as well
as fans of such shows as Teen Mom.

“It has two elements that are fascinating to our audience:
The MMA is really huge with our young core audience —
both men and women — and they’re going to see elements
of the sport in the show, including training and sparring
and working toward the big event,” Janollari said.

“The other element that is really fascinating to this young
millennial audience is the American South, and the show
really portrays this Louisiana, southern, small-town feel in
such an authentic and new and surprising way,” he added.

HBO’s swing at ring sports-themed reality programming
will focus on famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach,
who over a nearly 20-year career has trained such marquee
boxing champions as Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson,
and currently trains boxing’s arguably pound-for-pound
champion Manny Pacquiao, all while battling Parkinson’s
disease.

The six-part series On Freddie Roach, which debuts Jan.
20, is produced by Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights and will
have a more theatrical, “cinéma-vérité” look than typical
sports-themed, award-winning documentaries from HBO
Sports, according to network officials.

“We are truly excited to partner with Peter Berg on this
exceptional production,” Michael Lombardo, president,
HBO Programming, said. “Freddie Roach is an extraordinary
person and a fascinating personality.”