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UFC Founder’s Back In Ring

7/21/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

Bob Meyrowitz, the founder of Ultimate Fighting Championship, is stepping back into the combat-sports ring.

Meyrowitz is pitching cable networks on a new mixed martial arts reality series that he believes will muscle in on the growing popularity of the UFC and other, similar entities.

The programming will be part of a new mixed-martial arts league dubbed YAMA, which will also feature live pay-per-view events, according to Meyrowitz, who is currently chairman and CEO of circuit parent Meta Productions.

Meyrowitz, who founded the UFC in 1993 under his company Semaphore Entertainment Group, says that YAMA will differ from the current combat sports in a number of ways, starting with a ring that will be shaped differently from the UFC’s octagon or boxing’s square, in order to take better advantage of the various fighting disciplines. He didn’t disclose the dimensions.

The reality series, scheduled to be filmed in the U.S. and Russia, will pit two teams, each including a female fighter, with distinct styles against each other.

“We’re not building up anger between two men, but rather matching two totally different fighting styles,” he said.

Meyrowitz said he’s in “major discussions” with several cable networks about distributing the show, adding that he hopes to get the series on cable by year-end.

Meyrowitz, who sold the UFC franchise to Las Vegas-based company Zuffa LLC in 2001, is amazed by UFC’s current success, but surprised it has yet to create a breakthrough star with appeal beyond its core fan base.

“If there’s a disappointment with UFC, it’s that it hasn’t been able to build one of its athletes into a star that people will love and with whom they can do things outside the ring,” he said. “The genre has now reached a level where it should go beyond where it is today.”

November