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Versus climbs into cage

Sports network pacts with WEC

Comcast-owned Versus sports network inked a deal Friday to partner with World Extreme Cagefighting to broadcast martial arts fights starting this summer.

Versus WEC fight programming will focus on a discipline called mixed martial arts, which combines techniques from a variety of combative sports disciplines including boxing, wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu and kick boxing.

“Versus is a place like none other for mixed martial arts,” said Versus prexy Gavin Harvey. “This genre fortifies the competitive core of the Versus brand. It’s in our blood to bring real, pure and raw sports to our viewers, and we intend to be an aggressive leader in this category.”

Spike already airs mixed martial arts programming; MyNetworkTV and FSN partnered last week to begin broadcasting Intl. Fight League lineups.

As part of the initial WEC coverage, Versus will air three live fights and six one-hour highlight shows.

“Versus is one of the top sports networks and World Extreme Cagefighting is the premier brand in the world of mixed martial arts, making this a perfect fit,” said Peter Dropick, Versus’ vice president of operations & production.

Founded in 2001, the WEC features several prominent martial arts athletes, including Urijah Faber, Rob McCullough, Alex Karalexis, Richard Crunkilton and John Alessio.

Versus reaches about 70 million homes and provides competition-themed original programming; it’s the exclusive home of “Survivor” in syndication. Network also is the national cable home of the NHL, including the Stanley Cup playoffs, as well as best-in-class events like the Tour de France, the America’s Cup, the Dakar Rally, the Boston Marathon and the Davis Cup.

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