The numbers are in and week three of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen drew 1.2 million viewers, according to MMAWeekly.com industry sources.
Although that is still a strong number, it has to be a little disappointing for UFC brass that heavily promoted what will likely be the knockout of the season.
“I think we know who’s winning the $25,000 this year for knockout. You guys had better start going for fight or submission or something,” said UFC president Dana White on the show following Uriah Hall’s brutal first-round, hook kick knockout of Adam Cella.
Unfortunately, the knockout was a victory for Hall, but didn’t translate into a TV ratings boost… not that the show is suffering. At least, no compared to recent seasons.
Seasons 15 (TUF Live) and 16 were caught in a downward TV ratings spiral, mired in a stagnant format and, worse yet, a Friday night timeslot.
TUF 17 follows the same basic formula, but received a few tweaks to the production process and features a more documentary-type feel than seasons past.
The season opened strong at 1.51 million viewers for the two-hour premier, but is currently averaging 1.34 million viewers per episode, three weeks into the season.
That is still well above season 16, which had yet to draw a million viewers to a single episode by its third week.