Cat Zingano on Saturday night earned The Ultimate Fighter 18 coaching spot opposite UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey with a third-round stoppage of Miesha Tate.
TUF 18, however, isn’t breaking ground solely with women coaches and both male and female fighters in the house for the first time, it’s also going to be the first season of the venerable reality show to air on the upcoming Fox Sports 1 network.
“The next season of the Ultimate Fighter is moving to Fox Sports 1,” UFC president Dana White announced after Zingano’s victory. “We’re going to be a big part of the programming and we’re really excited about it.”
TUF 18 not only moves to Fox Sports 1, but also moves to a new time slot on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET. The West Coast tape dealy in the United States will also be a thing of the past with the show airing at the same time across the country. The series will launch at 10 p.m. ET on Sept. 4.
“Bringing The Ultimate Fighter to FOX Sports 1 is like adding a big bat to an exciting young lineup,” said Fox Sports president Eric Shanks. “TUF has jump-started the careers of dozens of fighters, many who have gone on to become UFC champions. It’s going to be a welcomed addition to FOX Sports 1, and the perfect anchor for our Wednesday prime time UFC block. We’re absolutely thrilled to have it.”
At launch, Fox Sports 1 will be available in over 90 million homes, making it the biggest sports cable network launch in history, and one of the largest network launches ever.
It boasts nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually. In addition to TUF 18, over the course of the year FS1’s Wednesday night UFC programming includes live fight events; UFC Tonight, the weekly authority for UFC news and information; and the best library programs.
The Ultimate Fighter has already seen significant growth from its first season on FX. The most recent season, TUF 17, was up 34 percent over season 16 and up 19 percent over season 15. Moving to a sports centric network in FS1, the expectation is that TUF 18 will only improve upon the viewership growth it saw with season 17.
(Follow @KenPishna on Twitter)
- Sports & Recreation