The season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter Season 22 was watched by an average of 622,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1 this past Wednesday night.
That’s the highest start to a season of TUF since the 18th season two years ago which drew 762,000 viewers largely thanks to having Ronda Rousey on-board opposite Miesha Tate as coaches, while the fact that it was a first chance to see women competing on the long-running reality show for the first time.
For TUF 22 it’s Conor McGregor who takes the coaching reigns opposite Urijah Faber, and so it’s clearly ‘The Notorious’ Irishman’s star power that’s helped boost the ratings beyond the likes of TUF 19 (595,000), TUF 20 (536,000) and TUF 21 (490,000) premieres.
So, it’s a solid if not spectacular start for the show, though the real test now will be whether interest in McGregor will help hold those ratings in the coming weeks or if they’ll start to slide.
The ratings could have been stronger if there was more heat between the two team coaches, but even before the season started the two pretty much admitted that they don’t really have any animosity towards each other.
McGregor also didn’t exactly hype up his stint on the show when he revealed to the media that he wasn’t all that enthused by the idea of going straight into TUF following his interim title victory, and indeed in recent days it’s emerged that he was a ‘hands-off’ coach during the season who often failed to turn up for his teams practice sessions.
The truth is that TUF just doesn’t have the stature it once did. In it’s heyday on Spike TV several years ago it was able to rake in a couple of million viewers which made it a vehicle that the promotion’s biggest stars were eager to sign up for as coaches due to the exposure and attention it could bring.
Nowadays, even with big names on-board it’s still unable to even get close to a million viewers and so for a fighter with McGregor’s ambition who’s able to draw more people to buy his PPV fights than TUF can for it’s free-to-air episodes on FOX Sports 1, it’s no great surprise that he’s not been fully committed to it.