Another season of The Ultimate Fighter is on its way, and it will be shown on yet another different channel—Fox Sports 1.

The change marks the third broadcast home for the show since it debuted on Spike TV in 2005. It stayed on that network until 2011, when the UFC and Fox made their historic agreement. TUF was then broadcast on FX starting in March 2012 with The Ultimate Fighter: Live, which many considered to be a flop, and continuing with the recently concluded TUF 17, which saw a bump in production value. TUF 18, premiering in September, looks to build off of the momentum Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen have given to the TUF series. One has to wonder, however, if the UFC and Fox are making a mistake in removing it from a prominent channel such as FX and bringing it to a completely new channel.

What is Fox Sports 1? Essentially, it is the channel Fox Sports is introducing to compete with ESPN. As it stands now, each region has its own Fox Sports channel. Here in Southern California, for example, we have Fox Sports West and Fox Sports Prime Ticket. These channels provide regional sports coverage. The one thing missing from the way Fox Sports does things is that it doesn’t have one flagship national sports channel like ESPN and NBC do. That’s going to change with Fox Sports 1.

Fox Sports 1 is going to replace the channel known as Speed. The initial thought is that this transition from Speed to Fox Sports 1 is going to go similar to how Versus changed over to NBC Sports Network. Personally, I believe Fox Sports 1 is going to hit the ground running and having the TUF series there to help promote the network is going to be a win-win for both the show and the network. Fox is going learn from what NBC Sports Network has done (or not done) with regard to cross-advertising on its national channel. One can expect to see Fox Sports 1 commercials featuring Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano pumped throughout Fox programming, including a prominent advertising presence around the Fox NFL Sunday show.

For one reason or another, the TUF show didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the programming on FX. I believe it was the intention of the UFC and Fox to get viewers to think of FX as a home of the UFC, but it always seemed a bit out of place. The initial tagline when TUF first started on FX was, “Live Friday Night Fights on FX.”

There is also something still a bit strange about having most of the UFC’s programming on a channel called FuelTV, which serves as another host for the fight promotion’s programming since its move to the Fox family of networks. But the increase in viewers on Fuel proves that fans are finding where the channel is located and they are watching. If they can find Fuel, they’ll find Fox Sports 1.

The UFC has yet to disappoint a network when it comes to ratings. Spike TV saw its viewership and advertising revenue skyrocket as the UFC approached mainstream status. Fuel TV is seeing the same type of positive jump in its ratings with seemingly daily UFC programming. There’s no reason to believe Fox Sports 1 can’t also benefit from having the UFC brand on board.

Both Fox and the UFC have made tremendous strides over the last couple of years. Until I see a project fail that these two companies are working on together, I’ll continue to believe in what they are doing to progress the sport of MMA.

By the time the new season of TUF arrives, people are going to know it’s on Fox Sports 1. The only hitch will be people taking the time to find out where that channel resides in their cable lineup. By the look of things, it’s going to be programmed on cable guides right next to the other major sports networks, so even that may be a moot point.

The TUF series is poised to have a great run this fall with Rousey and Zingano coaching teams of both men and women. And a fresh new network in Fox Sports 1 is going to be a perfect platform for the new endeavor.

Photo: Fox Sports 1 Logo (Fox Sports)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.