The latest ‘Ultimate Fighter’ Finale was just the last one on FOX but the show will live on in the UFC’s new broadcast deal with ESPN.
UFC president Dana White confirmed on Friday night that there are already plans and funds in place for new seasons of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ once the new ESPN broadcast deal begins in 2019.
The reality show was considered the savior of the UFC when it first went on the air on Spike TV back in 2005. Lately, the series has seen dwindling ratings and a lack of interest from the casual audience but the show is cheap to produce and still turns around enough of a return in viewing that the UFC wants to keep it alive.
Add to that, the UFC is currently working on a massive campus in Las Vegas that will be able to house live fight cards as well as ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, which means even more savings when it comes to the cost of production.
“‘The Ultimate Fighter’ isn’t going anywhere,” White said on Friday. “We’re going to keep going. The design of the new facility that we’re building has ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ in mind, too. We have the money for it so it’s already done. It’s part of the money we have right now for content.”
While ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ isn’t the ratings juggernaut that it once was, the series still churns out a solid list of prospects and allows the UFC an avenue to develop prospects outside of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
The latest winners from the reality show — Juan Espino and Macy Chiasson — will jump into two of the more shallow divisions in the UFC as they compete at heavyweight and women’s featherweight respectfully.
Just over the past few seasons, several contenders have also emerged from ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ ranks including strawweight wrecking machine Tatiana Suarez, women’s flyweight contender Sijara Eubanks and Kamaru Usman, who may be next in line for a welterweight title shot.