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AUSTIN, TX, November 23, 2012 - San Marcos-based Grande Communications has added three new channels focused on huntin', fishin' and fightin' to its lineup.

Can't get more Texan than that, right?

The Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network and My Combat Channel can all, as of this month, be found on the cable provider's premium Ultra Sports Tier. And because there's no such thing as too much sports - or so I'm told - the YES network, home to the New York Yankees, will make its Grande debut on Dec. 1. (New York? Git a rope!)

Brazilian-born fighter Fabiano Iha is the dude behind the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based My Combat Channel. Iha, a one-time mixed martial arts world champ, popped into town recently to talk about the fast-growing niche cable network.

"I thought it'd be cool to have a 24/7 place that covered the fights, plus what happens before and after the fights - interviews, training, everything," he said. "If golf can have its own channel - I mean, c'mon!"

Getting on the air wasn't quite as easy as he'd hoped, though. The pitch process, he says, dragged on for a couple years.

"I'm not used to having to prove myself," he said. "After every single meeting, I'd get so frustrated."

But things started moving after he partnered up with billionaire Alki David, Iha told me, and My Combat Channel made its debut on Jan. 1, 2011.

"He, thankfully, likes to do business a different way," Iha said. "Stuff like this isn't easy. It takes a lot of people to make it happen."

In addition to Grande, the network is also available to some CenturyLink and Comcast subscribers here in the U.S. - and deals with two more cable providers are reportedly about to be inked. Its biggest market, though, is India, Iha said.

About 10 percent of the network's programming is made in-house, including newscasts and talk shows. Over time, Iha would like to see that number go as high as 60 percent.

"This is an extremely good thing for the fighters," he said. "You can't fight forever. They want to get into hosting and acting, and this is an opportunity for them to do that."

New channels

  • World Fishing Network: Channel 236
  • The Sportsman Channel: Channel 237
  • My Combat Channel: Channel 240
  • YES Network: Channel 238 (starting Dec. 1)

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Elaine Garza
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