Watch: MTV Takes (Another) Stab At The MMA Trend With 'Caged'
Once more, MTV seeks a ratings bump by jumping on-board a hot trend.
The once-music-centric Viacom network was apparently so impressed with the documentary-style series "True Life" episode called "I'm A Mixed Martial-Arts Fighter" that it put together an entire series following up-and-coming fighters through their local ranks.
"Caged" premieres Jan. 9 at 10 PM ET/PT and fleshes out not only the challenges of being a fighter, but also the personal struggles that inspired the three young Louisiana combatants to enter the fast-growing combat sport.
For each struggling fighter, fighting isn't just a sport.
As a trailer for the show says, "The only way out is to get locked in." Wes is still in his twenties, and wants to show that he's not a "mess-up."
Daniel is never just fighting an opponent, but struggling to come to grips with the loss of his girlfrieind in a 2007 car accident.
Red is ready and willing to earn respect the hard way in the comparatively small but growing field of women's MMA. Last but not least, Danger just wants his father to be proud of him.
The "True Life" episode aside, this is MTV's third ongoing attempt to cash in on MMA's growing popularity. In December 2010, the rising Bellator Fighting Championships - a third-tier American professional MMA promotion behind the Zuffa-owned Ultimate Fighting Championship and Strikeforce promotions - signed a three-year deal to broadcast their events on MTV2 and MTV Tr3s.
The network has also produced three seasons of "Bully Beatdown," a show hosted by UFC middleweight fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller in which reputed bullies are given a chance to fight one of several professional MMA fighters with cash incentives for surviving each round or even winning a fight, with whatever money the bullies don't win going to their respective victims.
How will "Caged" hold up? Well, time may tell. MTV sometimes has an iffy record with shows that try cashing in on the hot trend of the moment. The best comparison is actually the network's record with getting involved with professional wrestling.
From the late 90s through about 2001, when wrestling hit arguably its greatest mainstream relevance ever, the network cashed in on World Wrestling Entertainment's popularity by producing the competition reality show "WWE Tough Enough" featuring no-names competing for WWE contracts, or "WWE Sunday Night Heat." Both fizzled pretty quickly after 2001 as MTV's mainstream, trend-chasing audience went all "Ooh, shiny red ball!" and got bored with wrestling as a whole.
As MMA keeps gaining in mainstream legitimacy, this could be that rare moment when MTV and some form of sports programming actually makes sense - or, when MTV is no longer new and exciting enough for the network's young audience, it may fizzle after a season or two.
Check out this two-minute promo and let us know what you think.