UFC Drops Live “Ultimate Fighter” Gimmick, Says FX Remains Behind Show

UFC President Dana White confirmed Wednesday that the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter” will return to the taped format that drove its success for fourteen seasons.

“TUF” is coming off its worst ratings to date for the debut season (and fifteenth overall) on FX, and though it is likely the Friday night timeslot hurt worse than the live gimmick, most feel going live was ultimately a negative.

Promoted at least in part as a way to keep spoilers from leaking, the unfortunate consequence is that UFC’s production team had limited ability to create narratives throughout the season. When taped, the producers know exactly how the season plays out–from results of the tournament to actions in the house–and can string together creative, compelling “reality” television that focuses on the true stars of the season.

As a live show, however, UFC had no idea how the season would shake out and thus primarily had to treat each episode as a week-to-week build for a live fight involving unknown fighters. In addition to producing less exciting television, that editing limitation also prevented UFC from creating true “stars” throughout the season.

As for the disappointing ratings, White told Yahoo! Sports that FX remains committed to its partnership with UFC. If ratings do not improve for the Friday airings this fall, FX has apparently promised to move the show to Tuesday or Wednesday in time for season 17.

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