TV's Contender Originally MMA

Been thinking of something lately and I'll try to keep
this short. If you're interested in details we can
elaborate on this thread.

Did you guys know the Mark Burnett (Survivor,
Apprentice) reality production called 'The
Contender' with Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard
was originally supposed to be an MMA show?

I was introduced to a Mega-Powered Hollywood
player named Peter Levin. Sergio Batarelli
introduced me to him in early 2002. The two of
them had a project in the works. At the time Peter
was the right hand man of MICHAEL OVITZ. If you
know, there was a time when Ovitz RAN hollywood.
Anyway, these guys were bigtime.

So Peter had gotten the MMA bug, and he started
calling me 2 to 3 time per week to pick my brain
and go on about all of the great things'we' were
gonna do. Believe it or not boys, I am an art director
by trade and I went to the best AD school in the
world - Portfolio Center - so I though I may actually
have a real situation here that could lead to

Anyway Peter broke off with Ovitz whom he had
been with since the Glory Days of 'Creative Artists'.
Then he formed Battle Management - I'm sure you
all remember hearing about that. Battle
Management signed and agreement with Eric
Bishoff. This is the point where I lost out. Peter was
fired up about the Bischoff deal. WCW was gone
and Bishoff had experience Peter liked. I told him
he made a mistake! Bad move. Peter and I talked
less and less after that. But I was right.

One thing we did talk about was that Peter had a
SIGNED development deal with Mark Burnett.
There is no doubt that this is true. The show was
coming out. I hinted about it online, but I honored
his request to not talk publicly about it.

The show that was supposed to be an MMA show
obviously has become 'The Contender'.

Interesting, huh?


Haven't heard much. They signed several fighters
to management deals.

Interesting thing is I was inside this deal early on,
but now I am completely out of the loop.

Peter is a businessman. They follow the money.
Battle Management may be dead. He originally had
plans for bigger productions than MMA has ever
seen. Talent management, PPV, everything.

Bischoff is busy with WWE.

Also, Peter Levin owns an Arena League football
team with his Dad. That's their hobby.


Whatever happened to his partner in Battle, Jeremy Lappen, did he go back to Interlight Pictures?

Funny how Ovitz's outrageous antics eventually backfired into making him the jackass of Hollywood.

I vaguely remember hearing about Battle Management... Didn't they sign Marc Coleman amongst other fighters?

They had Coleman, Randy, Rizzo, and Valiji, dont remember who else.

If I remember correctly, they are mostly responsible for the negotiation hijinks that resulted in Randy not being featured on promotional materials or the video games, and Rizzo's huge paydays that everyone griped about.

I heard rumors that "The Contender" was originally supposed to be a tournament with K-1 fighters

Imagine how cool it could have been for MMA if
every week people in their offices were talking
about MMA fighters like they do about Survivor and
Apprentice personalities.

It could have put a face on our sport.

I remember Bischoff talking about the show. They were going to have a bunch of martial artists from various styles living on an island (kind of like that Bruce Lee movie), then they would have fights at the end of each episode.

I actually never heard that. Sounds like a Bischoff
take on things. Why the hell do that if you can have
a more real situation like a "Real World" scenario.

Oh well. Guess it's not gonna happen any time

That is the same setup as "The Contender". They got a bunch of middleweight boxers living in a house and at the end of each episode two fight each other and one goes home. It's going to be more "Survivor" than "Real World".