After watching the ratings for “The Ultimate Fighter” steadily decline in recent years, despite the coaching additions of some of MMA’s biggest superstars, the UFC decided change was a necessity for the reality show. What better time to launch TUF 2.0 than after scoring their monumental television broadcast deal with FOX?
Starting with season 15, which is scheduled to premiere in the Spring of 2012, each elimination bout will air live on TV. FX will broadcast the shows on Friday nights. There will be two seasons every year, with each session comprising of a 13-week tournament.
“Over the last seven years and the last 14 cycles of ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ they’ve been taped over six weeks, then they’re in the can and edited for 3 to 4 months and then they make their way to air,” FX Networks president John Landgraf said during Thursday’s press conference.
“Now, the show’s going to be shot over 13 weeks and each installment will be edited the week of and then aired that [same] week. What happened that week will be airing on FX Friday night followed by a live fight.”
As if providing live elimination scraps weren’t enough, UFC president Dana White announced a couple of additional wrinkles that should help rejuvenate the show. The promoter called the changes “revolutionary.”
For starters, fanboys will now have the power each week to vote on which contests they want to see in an elimination bout. The results will be announced on the following episode.
The winds of change certainly didn’t stop blowing there. The TUF coaches will now be training alongside their protégés throughout the season to prepare for their pay-per-view matchups.
“Their training camp will be there for that 12 weeks – and all these fights leading right into the Finale, and also when the coaches fight on pay-per-view – will all line right up and it will be live,” White excitingly stated.
Filming for “The Ultimate Fighter 14” is already underway and marks the final season the show will air on Spike TV. The edgy network is the only place the series has ever called home.