Jones and Chael Sonnen
debut as coaches on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter” this
January on FX, it will not be on Friday night.
Network executive Chuck Saftler revealed the news on Wednesday
during a media conference call. While Saftler did not disclose
which night of the week will house the UFC’s reality show, the
executive did have a specific message for rival cable network Spike
TV, which previously partnered with the UFC to broadcast the first
14 seasons of “TUF” from 2005 to 2011.
“The show is going to move off of Friday nights,” said Saftler. “I
can’t confirm the day right now, but it is definitely moving to a
weekday. There will be an announcement on that sometime in the next
30 to 45 days.
“But I will say that Spike should watch their ass.”
Spike and the UFC ended their relationship at the conclusion of
last year. However, the cable network retained the rights to
broadcast UFC content through 2012 and has done so successfully.
Spike will once again launch live MMA content this January, when
the Viacom-owned station airs Season 8 of the Bellator Fighting
“Clearly, Spike has been dogging us for most of this year with the
launch of [Seasons 15 and 16] of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ by trying
to create viewer confusion and scheduling old episodes against ‘The
Ultimate Fighter’ and trying to pass it off as new content,” said
Saftler. “They will be out of the UFC game effective in January.
They’re going to try to launch their own reality show that competes
with ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ or does very similar things with their
“I’m just saying that we’ve watched how they behaved, and we’re
well aware of their behavior and how they’ve acted competitively,”
Saftler continued. “I’m not ready to commit to [saying we will go
head-to-head with counter-programming], but we will certainly be
watching how they schedule, what they schedule and who they
Since moving to Friday nights on FX, “TUF” has seen a ratings
decline, as evidenced by the most recent episode of the series
netting an all-time low 624,000 viewers. While UFC President Dana
White denied that Jones and Sonnen were selected as coaches this
season as a way to boost ratings, Saftler nevertheless expects the
results of the move to be favorable.
“We were absolutely monitoring the Friday situation and we want to
see if there's a day that can work better for the show,” Saftler
said. “Certainly with Jones and Sonnen as the coaches for this
upcoming season, we have probably the best casting that we've seen
for this show. And we have really high expectations for what the
ratings will be as a result. We think we can move off of Friday,
and with the casting, we have very, very big expectations for the
ratings. They should be epic.”