Mixed martial arts programming took a ratings hit on Friday night, as both “The Ultimate Fighter” on FX and Bellator 61 on MTV2 showed a decrease in viewership from the previous week.
Now in its 15th season, episode two of “TUF” attracted 1.1 million average viewers on FX, a downturn from last week’s 1.3 million observers. Meanwhile, Bellator 61 netted an average viewership of 108,000, the second-lowest viewer turnout for the promotion since it signed on with MTV Networks prior to Season 4. Falling between the two figures was Spike TV’s counter-programming broadcast of “TUF” Season 7 highlights, which averaged 346,000 viewers.
The deck was stacked against both promotions on Friday night, as Bellator 61 and “TUF 15” episode two had to contend with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which likely diverted attention from both programs. Sherdog.com confirmed the information with an industry source on Tuesday.
The UFC’s reality series previously aired for 14 seasons in a pre-recorded format on Spike TV. Now airing on Fox-owned cable network FX, “TUF 15” marks the first season to feature live fights on a weekly basis. Episode two showcased the season’s first quarterfinal matchup, as Team Cruz’s James Vick delivered a shocking knockout of Team Faber’s Daron Cruickshank.
Taking place at the Riverdome at Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, La., Bellator 61 saw four men advance in Bellator’s sixth-season middleweight tournament. While Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky and Bruno Santos all put forth winning performances, it was Brian Rogers who stole the show with his spectacular, jumping-knee knockout of Vitor Vianna.