Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi covers the video game industry for WRAL Local Tech Wire.

LAS VEGAS – THQ is riding a wave of positive buzz after the company hosted a large contingent of gaming, sports and mixed martial arts press at The Palms Casino Resort recently in Las Vegas to give an exclusive first look at its spring 2009 Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game, "UFC 2009: Undisputed."

The event showed off "synergy," or the cross-media promotion of the fighting sport in games, TV show and a live sporting event. Such synergy will be a hallmark of the next five years of THQ’s exclusive video game license with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). SpikeTV’s GameTrailers TV and web video show hosted the world premiere of the game’s trailer on Friday night. Attending press could post this game trailer Saturday morning, so it’s now all over the Web.

In another convergence between the UFC and its new game series, the game press could see the game at the same time they could see the UFC fight Saturday afternoon inside the Pearl Theater, which was taped by SpikeTV for the seventh season finale of "The Ultimate Fighter" TV show. This series was part of the mainstream marketing outreach that Zuffa LLC brought to the table when they purchased UFC in 2001 from Semaphore Entertainment Group.

UFC President Dana White (who purchased UFC with brothers and casino moguls Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta) was on hand for THQ’s videogame launch and he was quite frank when speaking about the original Crave “UFC: Throwdown” and “UFC: Tapout” games that shipped between 2000 and 2002 for Sega’s Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. TDK Mediactive shipped “UFC: Tapout 2” on Xbox in 2003 and Global Star Software shipped “UFC: Sudden Impact” for PS2 in 2004. White said these earlier UFC games “sucked” and this new collaboration with THQ will deliver the ultimate mixed martial arts (MMA) game.

Given the reaction that the game demo received from the packed crowd of about 100 press, the UFC, THQ and developer Yuke’s Osaka are on the right track. Two Yuke’s developers were on hand, along with UFC fighters Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Forrest Griffin, to play the game live on giant plasma screens in the $25,000-a-night Fantasy Suite at The Palms.

One of the things that really stood out in this demo, especially for a game that still has a year of development left, is that there were no obvious physical or graphical flaws (known as collision detection and no clipping) – something that plagues THQ’s own “WWE Smackdown vs. RAW! 2008” games and even occurs in EA Sports’ best-selling “Fight Night Round 3” boxing game. “UFC 2009” looks gorgeous with photorealistic visuals, but it also looks realistic because punches land correctly and cause bruising, blood and sweat. There were no kicks or punches that went through an opponent’s body, which is a typical flaw for a fighting simulation.

According to Tracy Williams, THQ’s director of global brand management, the UFC is the best partner the company has ever worked with (THQ and Jakks-Pacific share the WWE sports entertainment game license.) THQ and the UFC will be integrating the new game into both the live events and televised events on SpikeTV moving forward – something THQ has capitalized on through its WWE game franchises over the course of its 10-year license with that company.

With a Mature rating, “UFC 2009” will be targeted at an older demographic, but Williams said there is a large crossover of WWE fans. In addition, while UFC has a large following in English-speaking European countries, it has yet to become a global entity like WWE. Williams said this game will serve as an introduction to the sport to many foreign territories, which in turn should help the UFC grow.

The first game will feature 80 UFC fighters, which is a huge number of uniquely animated characters for a fighting game. Williams said THQ plans on releasing new games each year over the course of the license. It may also take UFC games to additional platforms like PS2 and even the Nintendo Wii. But the focus for launch will be the PS3 and Xbox 360, which skew to older ages.

THQ will be building awareness for “UFC 2009” over the coming months with additional press events timed to key UFC pay-per-views, releasing additional details on the game and giving press access to a larger number of UFC fighters. Both Jackson and Griffin spent several hours doing interviews for the new game at this Vegas event. And many of the UFC fighters are big gamers, which also helps with this type of convergence moving forward.