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The Ultimate Fighter Moves from FX to Fox Sports 1 Starting with Season 18
Following three seasons of The Ultimate Fighter on FX, the latest installment featuring UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano as coaches will have a new broadcast home.
UFC president Dana White announced on Saturday during the TUF 17 finale broadcast that The Ultimate Fighter will shift to the new Fox Sports 1 network later this year. Fox Sports 1 officially kicks off on Saturday, August 17 with the first live UFC fight card airing later that night from Boston.
According to UFC officials, the show will now begin airing on Wednesday nights—the same night The Ultimate Fighter aired on Spike TV for 14 seasons. The debut episode will air on Wednesday, September 4 at 10pm ET.
First debuting in 2005, The Ultimate Fighter was a staple of Spike TV, but after the UFC opted to leave the network and sign a new deal with Fox, the long-running reality show had to find a new home.
The Ultimate Fighter landed on FX on Friday nights, and for the first time ever the show aired live on Friday nights with coaches Urijah Faber and bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz leading the way. Unfortunately, the format and the ratings didn't follow the show to the new night and time, so the promotion moved back to the taped version for season 16.
That didn't work either, and it was clear The Ultimate Fighter was struggling to find success on Friday nights so FX shifted the show to Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. where season 17 debuted earlier this year.
The results were immediate with the ratings rebounding, and a new, fresh format for the show seemed to reinvigorate a program that had gone stale over the past few years.
Now with Rousey and Tate leading the way as coaches, women will also be featured prominently for the first time ever in the show's history with 135-pound bantamweights competing for The Ultimate Fighter title. The bantamweight men will also be showcased as the show goes co-ed for season 18.
The move to Fox Sports 1 will create more original programming for the new network that is expected to be in direct competition with ESPN for the all-sports television market.
If there is a downside to the move, it’s the fact that just as The Ultimate Fighter was starting to gain momentum at their new home on FX, the show will move again. Currently, the Speed Channel (which will become Fox Sports 1) is not in as many homes as FX either, although with new contracts being signed ahead of the August debut date those numbers could easily change.
The Ultimate Fighter 18: Rousey vs. Zingano tryouts will kick off in the next few days in Las Vegas with the show's filming to begin in the coming weeks.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report
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