The Ultimate Fighter reality show has spanned 12 years, 25 main seasons, 10 international seasons, and produced many champions and top contenders. It has become a staple in the MMA community and a big reason the UFC was able to stay in business. Like all good reality shows, everything must come to an end. But how do you determine that?
We can start with viewership, which has been steadily declining. The premier for season 24 had a dismal 370,000 viewers. Season 25 started off even worse, clocking in with 288,000 viewers. Here are a couple of numbers to put things in perspective.
- Season 10 premier: 4.1 Million viewers
- Season 15 premier: 1.28 Million viewers
- Season 20 premier: 2.54 Million viewers
The rapid decline of viewership has undoubtedly put a strain on the UFC and Fox and more than likely put the series in jeopardy.
Another factor to consider is the amount of talent on the UFC roster. The UFC roster is currently sitting around 500 active fighters. When The Ultimate Fighter was first introduced, the object was to find the best fighters in the world not signed with the UFC.
However, with the influx of talent the company has seen, it’s hard to find a top fighter that isn’t signed with the company. Sure, you might find one or two guys who can make an impact, but gone are the days of Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, and Rashad Evans type guys stepping in and contributing immediately.
My true opinion is that The Ultimate Fighter should step aside and allow Dana White’s “Looking For A Fight” to shine for a little while. When it premiered, it was immediately a hit. It’s fresh and new and exciting to watch fighters like Sage Northcutt and Mickey Gall on the independent circuit. Plus, it’s always fun when you get to watch Matt Serra and Nick the Tooth go at it.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. If The Ultimate Fighter is pulled from television, I do hope that it can make a return one day in a new and exciting format, because it still is one of my favorite shows to watch. Nothing can make you root for a fighter more than watching them learn and grow. Plus, coaches trash talking is pretty fun too.