Last night, shortly after the conclusion of this season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, the UFC boss addressed the media about the future of the Contender Series and of The Ultimate Fighter.
Despite widespread rumors about the show’s demise, White assured the Ultimate Fighter will continue as the UFC migrates from FOX to ESPN.
“The Ultimate Fighter will continue,” he said, point-blank. “There’s still a huge market for The Ultimate Fighter. The Ultimate Fighter still does well. People look at the ratings right now, and they’ll come at a half a million, 600, 650, but that’s the initial rating. Now with DVR and stuff like that, the number’s much bigger. Last season averaged around a million viewers. That’s a lot of people. It’s still a big show and a big brand. It’ll go on.”
“It’s something we can do with ESPN, [and streaming service] ESPN+,” he added. “Contender [Series], [Dana White:] Lookin’ For A Fight, it’s all going to keep rolling.”
While the Ultimate Fighter is expected to continue on ESPN, White says there are some changes coming. Most notably, the hallowed Ultimate Fighter gym will soon be gutted and abandoned by the promotion. They will then move to a new, state of the art facility next door to their current base of operations.
“This building goes away,” White said. “That’s the end of the TUF building. We bought the building next door to us, over at the facility — which is like 130-something-thousand square feet — to add on to what we already have. And we’re building a state of the art facility for fights. So there’s going to be a new TUF, new Contenders gym. Next season will be in the new gym. It’s going to be awesome.”
Dana White, who is widely known for his tough exterior, admits that this change is a little hard on him. The TUF gym, after all, is a historic place for the UFC.
“There’s a lot of history in this building,” he said. “It’s a very nostalgic place. So it’s going to be a little weird leaving this place.”
“I think we came in and found this building in 2004, and gutted it out and built the gym which was much smaller than it is now,” he added. “Then over the years as TUF got bigger, we expanded. It’s been a hell of a ride. Just like our old office buildings, it was fun, it’s a little tough to leave. I am actually pretty sentimental about that stuff.”
“We’re starting everything over fresh again. New offices, new TUF gym.”
While future seasons of The Ultimate Fighter will occur in a new gym, White assures there will be plenty of familiar features in the new venue.
“All the signed jerseys from every season,” he said. “Those will be in the new gym. It’ll look a lot like this gym, but a lot better. And it won’t be as hot, there will be air conditioning in this one.”
Dana White also added that, while The Ultimate Fighter is set to continue, it might continue at a reduced frequency.
“We probably won’t do two a season, we’ll probably only do one.”
What do you think the future holds for The Ultimate Fighter? Do you think it’s time for Dana White to pull the plug on the show, or are you glad to hear it will continue?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/7/2018.