Numbers never lie. The figures clearly show that female fights on The Ultimate Fighter 18 are watched by more viewers than when men step into the Octagon on the reality series.

According to Nielsen ratings obtained by MMAPayout, the trend of viewership increased when women fought, up until week eight when the show took a break to recap the high and low lights from the season. To put the difference in perspective, about 422,000 more people watched the females go to battle than the men from episodes two through seven.

So, why exactly do women draw more viewers?

I can’t speak on behalf of all MMA fans, but, in my view, the women attract more viewers because they bring something different to the table. With this being the first season where women are featured on The Ultimate Fighter, casual fans wanted to see just how women perform once the cage door is locked. The second episode did not disappoint. It outdrew the premiere—a rarity in television—with Julianna Pena and Shayna Baszler drawing 870,000 people to tune in.

The debut was able to set up the Pena vs. Baszler fight very well. It highlighted the two fighters as the top selections by coaches Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey, respectively. This allowed the promotion to hype the fight to a great extent, and thus draw viewers of many demographics.

However, fans who have watched the sport for years know that the girls hardly ever fail to put on a boring fight. So far, all of the women’s fights this season have ended by knockout or submission, with the exception of Raquel Pennington’s clash with Jessamyn Duke. Yet, even that bout entertained. It will more than likely be declared “Fight of the Season” once things come to a close.

Thanks to the women paving the way to help the season gain success, the trend of consistent ratings should carry over once the finale takes place on Saturday, Nov. 30, from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Now that the eighteenth American season is almost wrapped up, it’s time for the UFC to take things up a notch and put together a season featuring only women.

Rumors have been floating around about the UFC adding a 115-pound division, and UFC President Dana White confirmed that the promotion is indeed working on adding another class for the ladies. Whenever the promotion brought over Rousey and Tate, among others, to build a women’s bantamweight division, it opted to include females with men in a season of its reality show. The UFC could do the same once a 115-pound division is constructed, but instead of combining both genders, why not have strictly women?

It wouldn’t be difficult to find 32 ladies to join the cast, but the question of who would serve as coaches raises a red flag. Rousey has said she would never coach on The Ultimate Fighter again, and if she continues to remain the champion, it’s not clear who would be able to serve as a big name to draw casual fans to watch. It could be a year or two before the UFC is able to successfully plan out this idea, but it’s not to argue that it won’t happen in the future.

Remember, ratings equal dollar signs, and in all sporting organizations, including the UFC, the bottom line is that the sport translates into a business. White will be the first to tell you that the women draw attention, and as he continues to develop the women’s divisions and brings more women to the UFC, a new brand of TUF will be born.

It’s hard to believe that before the Strikeforce shutdown, the head man said he would never allow women to step foot inside the Octagon. Transition to present time and those ladies are leading this year’s season in viewership and could pave the way for a different look to the Fox Sports 1 program.

Photo: TUF 18 Cast (Zuffa, LLC)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.