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Action figure wars coming to the UFC

In light of news that the UFC’s upcoming video game release with THQ “UFC 2009: Undisputed” is now expected to face some competition from EA Sports, comes word that it series of action figures with Jakks Pacific has been beaten to the punch in regards to the likeness of several key fighters.

Action-figure manufacturer Round 5 launched a “Champions of MMA” figurine series early this year and just recently followed it up with the launch of a second series and with plans to launch series three, four, five, and six by the end of 2009. In addition to releasing its figures a full year before the Jakks figures will hit the shelves, MMA editor Denny Burkholder is now reporting that Round 5 has tied up several key contracts with fighters.

In addition to former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk, who did a recent interview with as a part of a Round 5 media tour, action figures designed in the likeness of such UFC superstars as Rich Franklin, Wanderlei Silva, Randy Couture, and Anderson Silva are now available at major retailers such as Toys “R” Us.

It should be noted that Round 5 made its decision well in advance of the UFC’s decision to sign a merchandising deal with Jakks earlier this year. However, Damon Lau, the co-founder and president of Round 5, informed Burkholder that “90 to 95 percent” of their lineup is under exclusive deals. As such, UFC fighters under contract to Round 5 MMA are legally prohibited from also having a figure in the UFC line by Jakks.

In an interesting twist, when Jakks revealed prototypes for several of its figures in anticipation of their late-2009 launch, figures of Couture and both Wanderlei and Anderson Silva were reportedly on display. But according to Lau, some of Jakks figures will never make it to mass production.

“All I can say is that there’s a likelihood — well not a likelihood, but there’s a fact — that some of those figurines can not actually go into production,” Lau is quoted as telling Burkholder. “I’ve seen the prototypes as well, but the rights to those guys have been already signed over to our company.”

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