White: TUF gym to close, TUF will continue with ESPN, ESPN+
"The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
UFC president Dana White spoke with the media following the latest Tuesday Night Contender Series, and said that while the TUF gym will close, the long-running reality television series The Ultimate Fighter will live on at ESPN.
“‘The Ultimate Fighter’ will continue,” said White, as transcribed by Simon Samano and John Morgan for MMAjunkie. “There’s still a huge market for ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ still does well.”
“People will look at the ratings, and they’ll come in at a half-million, 600, 650, but that’s the initial rating. Now, with DVR and stuff like that, the numbers are much bigger. Last season’s ‘Ultimate Fighter’ (27) averaged about a million viewers. That’s a lot of people. It’s still a big show and a big brand. Yeah, it’ll go on.”
White was asked if TUF will become part of the EPSN+ app, but did not answer definitively.
“Yup," he said. "We can do it with ESPN, ESPN+.”
Reality television series have a shelf life, and the endurance of TUF is remarkable. However, the latest season, TUF 27 which featured Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier as opposing coaches, reportedly averaged just 200,000 viewers for its premiere episode.
TUF 28 will star UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum, and eight male heavyweights and eight female featherweights. Hopefully, it is the beginning of an actual UFC women's featherweight division. There after, White said there will be one TUF season per year, rather than two as has been the case traditionally.