First game to come out in late 2007

Ultimate Fighting Championship, the martial arts competition that’s popular on Spike TV and in pay-per-view with young men, is targeting the same demo via a new vidgame deal with THQ.

Five-year pact, which runs through 2011, gives THQ rights to make UFC games for all console and portable platforms, as well as wireless devices.

Publisher is hoping that UFC titles will complement its existing line of World Wrestling Entertainment games, just as the two used to be paired on Spike TV.

“We see WWE as an entertainment brand, while UFC is a true sports brand,” said THQ exec veep of worldwide publishing Kelly Flock.

Previous UFC games have been made by smaller publishers such as Global Star and TDK Mediactive. Thanks to its growth in the past several years, however, UFC is believed to have been in talks with several top publishers before reaching its deal with THQ.

Most major sports leagues already have exclusive deals in place, such as the NFL’s and NASCAR’s agreements with Electronic Arts and Major League Baseball’s with 2K, leaving few properties for other publishers to pursue.

Flock said THQ, which doesn’t have any other major sports franchises, was looking for the right property to get into the category when it found out UFC was available.

THQ is already at work on its first UFC game, which, like most other sports vidgames, will feature real competitors. Though no titles have been announced, first game is likely to come in late 2007 or in 2008. It’s expected to have a significant online component allowing players to compete against one another.

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