After FX officials publicly discussed being pleased with ratings for the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, the company’s first try at a live season, the UFC has decided to go back to a taped series.
TUF will still be shown on FX on Friday nights but could be moved to a Tuesday or Wednesday if ratings don’t increase. FX officials say their Friday night programming lineup ratings were up and slotted in at No. 2 in the time slot, even with Spike TV launching a counter-programming campaign.
"FX wants to try it again on Friday nights," UFC President Dana White recently told Yahoo Sports. "But if it's not up to the standards I'm expecting, I'm pretty sure they'll give me what I want. But this season was a smash hit home run for them."
The new season of TUF should air in September and begins filming in just three weeks. It will focus on welterweight fighters, and the UFC is expected to announce coaches soon.
I think it’s a shame the UFC couldn’t better market TUF Live, as the increased focus on fighting instead of in-house dramatics was a refreshing change of pace. Having the fighters in the house fight in a more condensed time frame, however, certainly wasn’t ideal—or necessarily fair—to those advancing in the tournament, such as Michael Chiesa or Al Iaquinta.
How can the UFC change things up?
Matt Ryder believes Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar as TUF coaches could help the brand through a new season of the show. Meanwhile, Ryan Sz wonders if it’s time to have an all female season of the show and whether or not that would be dramatic enough to shake things up.
I think it’s all about the quality of the fighters. If the MMA fans didn’t approve of a live season of the show, then a taped season with better fighters may be in order. For example, Chiesa and Sam Sicilia train with such characters as Cody McKenzie and Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm in Spokane, Washington, yet nothing could be learned about their respective backgrounds as teammates and friends.
Also, I hope the UFC and FX leave the drama for daytime soap operas and focus on the training of fighters. If everything goes well, the UFC can keep TUF on Friday and find success on FX with its taped show.