CBS will continue to air ‘Cage Fight’ even though it was canceled

CBS is sticking with “Cage Fight” just in time for election season.

“Tiger King,” a live boxing miniseries that is being billed as “a gritty, street-level boxing epic,” officially ended its debut episode on Friday night. Yet the return of the series is so near that CBS is reviving it on Sunday night.

The show, starring David Marciano as a down-on-his-luck fighting manager, may have been a hit when it aired in October, but the network waited nearly a month to move to a new night to hopefully make up some of the views that were lost from initially airing against a thrilling Denver Broncos-Seattle Seahawks playoff game. A similar move was taken in December and January when CBS canceled “Hawaii Five-0” and “CSI: Cyber.”

At the time, “Cage Fight” creators Dana Calvo and Maureen FitzPatrick said the network had had issues with the series as it did with any other first-run show.

Calvo said CBS made the decision in late December to put the series on hold, but didn’t give a reason until CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller and other executives confirmed the cancellation and announce its return just three weeks ago.

“We made a lot of changes in production and I feel a lot better about it now,” FitzPatrick said. “I think the production certainly needed to change to make it possible for us to shoot in the street that we did.”

The “fight and crowd experience” the producers had talked about initially was kept in tact, and in a rare move, the series shot scenes in Los Angeles, not Las Vegas, where much of the action takes place.

“I think it’s a tough decision [to cancel ‘Cage Fight’], and one we’re not particularly proud of,” said Calvo. “I think it’s a tough environment.”

The return of “Cage Fight” is timed to the release of another cable network, MGM’s (NYSE:MGM) new cable channel Epix, which is moving into the streaming arena with a slate of original programming. But “Cage Fight” producers say the network was never a factor in the series cancellation.

“If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have put ‘Cage Fight’ on over Epix,” Calvo said. “But I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

“We’re a lot higher budgeted, a lot more expensive,” he said. “And there’s a reason for that.”

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