The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen opened to the series’ strongest ratings ever since making the move to FX last January.
The third season on FX opened to 1.51 million viewers.
We’re only two episodes into the TUF 17 season, but the early returns are good. The second week of the series held strong at 1.3 million viewers in the follow-up to last week’s two-hour season premier.
The ratings are an obvious improvement over the past few seasons already but it remains to be seen what exactly the jump in ratings can be attributed to. Is it the star power of coaches Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, or is it the style of filming that is drawing in viewers?
Maia renews emphasis on submissions
Like so many fighters before and after him, Maia failed to do a thing against the iconic middleweight champion. Splitting four fights over the next two years, including a lopsided decision loss to Chris Weidman in January 2010, Maia was propelled to shed 15 pounds and begin anew at welterweight.
“I needed to be reborn,” Maia said over the phone from his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where he’ll meet Jon Fitch on Saturday during the pay-per-view portion of UFC 156. “I felt when I was hitting guys or going for a takedown at 185, sometimes it was like hitting a wall. Now in this weight division, it’s more fair for me.”
Competing at his natural weight (around 185 pounds on fight night) also has helped, as has a renewed emphasis on submissions.
“Now that I learned I’m able to do well with boxing, I was able to train more jiu-jitsu again,” he said. “I’ve come back to my grappling.”
A Demian Maia that is more interested in taking his opponents down and submitting rather than striking is a dangerous threat to any fighter at 170 lbs. He has looked fantastic so far at welterweight, and a decisive win over Jon Fitch this Saturday will only further launch him back into title contention.
If the 39-year-old has any regrets in his octagon career, it’s that he wasn’t able to move up to middleweight to fight for a title. He said he would have fought Evan Tanner for the belt if Tanner had beaten his longtime friend Rich Franklin at UFC 53, but Franklin won, and told the UFC he wouldn’t face Franklin at the conclusion of “The Ultimate Fighter 2.”
“Anderson Silva,” Hughes said of the fighter he most wanted to face. “I always wanted to go up to 185 to put the belts together.”
Instead, Hughes settled in at welterweight. He said his first rematch with Penn, which saw him earn a third-round TKO, and a first-round TKO of Royce Gracie remain among his favorite memories in the UFC.
The potential Hughes-Tanner bout has been a good MMA trivia question for a long time. It's also interesting to think about what would have been if Frank Trigg had finished what he started in the first round against Hughes at UFC 52. It would have been him as a coach on "TUF 2" against Franklin.
Benavidez in no rush for second title shot
Benavidez says he’s in no rush to get back to the title, although a win over McCall might solidify his spot as the No. 1 contender, despite his loss to Johnson was just four months ago.
Actually, if given the option, he might even prefer getting at least two fights in before taking another shot at the belt, but he’ll leave that decision to the UFC. Right now, he’s focused on improving and reminding himself to enjoy it. If he does that, there’s still hope everything he had imagined would happen in September isn’t dead yet.
“Talent-wise, he’s right there at the top,” Gifford said. “All the everyday things I see him do—I know he’s the best. I said to him in the gym the other day after his workout, ‘You were only off by one year, bro. You said 2012, you’ll get the belt in 2013.’
It's tough to be in Benavidez's spot, who like his teammate Urijah Faber, is now one of the toughest and most talented fighters in a division in the UFC to not hold a title.
Benavidez was dug in as the number two bantamweight in the world while he was at 135 lbs and with a win over Ian McCall on Saturday night, he'll be right back in the same spot at flyweight. I'm confident though that one day his talent will overcome his shortcomings and have him holding UFC gold. I'm just not sure when that will be.
Cung Le on talk of fighting Anderson Silva: 'I'm totally open for it'
That possibility came from Silva’s manager Ed Soares, who admitted even while saying it that he didn’t know whether it was a fight that would interest the UFC.
The mention flattered Le, who has been idle since his Nov. 10 knockout win against Rich Franklin. The 40-year-old, who has one foot planted in the fight world and the other in Hollywood, is in a position where he can pick the path of his future, and he admitted that a fight with Silva is something that would interest him.
“If the UFC wants me to fight after our discussion, I’m totally open for it,” he said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
While it's a good move on Le's part to step up to the plate and strike while the iron his hot, I don't think anyone seriously wants to see this fight other than Le, Silva and Soares. Silva would destroy Le inside of four minutes, and that's giving Le the benefit of the doubt.
Dana White said that Silva and Soares throwing around names of potential opponents is commonplace, and it's true. We've seen it before. And I don't know if the non-interest in Weidman is because of the threat he poses or his lack of name value. What I do know is that there are better choices out there for a title defense than Le.
The preliminary ratings for UFC on Fox 6 have been returned, and according to a report from TVByTheNumbers.com, the show headlined by flyweights Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson actually pulled in the third highest viewership yet for a UFC on Fox card.
Nearly 3.78 million viewers (3.7766 to be exact) on average watched the two-hour long broadcast that featured Johnson vs. Dodson in the main event, as well as the farewell fight for Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as he lost to Glover Teixeira in what should likely be his last trip to the Octagon.
The ratings signify a 13-percent increase from the numbers returned for the UFC on Fox 5 card in December.
Now that the UFC has dedicated themselves to putting together fun and exciting cards with some value for the FOX shows, the ratings are starting to steadily improve.
I'm a big fan of putting title fights on network TV. Even though you likely won't see GSP and Anderson Silva on FOX anytime soon, the non-marquee divisions will slowly gain respect and star power through all of the eyeballs they are catching.
White says UFC was close to Fedor Emelianenko-Brock Lesnar stadium fight
“We were in deep talks with him,” White said following the post-fight news conference for UFC on FOX 6 in Chicago. “We were that close to signing him recently. Right before his dad died. We were right there. When I was talking about doing the big Dallas Texas stadium show? It was going to be Brock Lesnar vs. (Fedor).
“Remember when I met with him and said it didn’t go well? It actually went well. It went well, and Brock wanted to fight Fedor. Then (Fedor’s) dad died, and he was done.”
“He said, ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with my family,’” White said. “(UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta met with him). We were negotiating for months. After his dad died and he said he was done or whatever, Brock said, ‘I’m done, too.”’
And here we all thought that a trip to Cowboys Stadium would only have involved Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva.
But in his decision, Linares wrote that Alvarez failed to satisfy the burden of showing a reasonable probability of success and irreparable harm.
“It is speculative to suggest, as Alvarez does, that an inability to compete in the April 27 event will result in irreparable harm in the form of a lost opportunity to obtain notoriety, endorsements, and a wider exposure to viewers,” he wrote.
Linares did note that Alvarez had at least one potential battleground issue in his ongoing litigation, acknowledging that the difference between broadcast network FOX and cable channel Spike could lead a court or jury to find that the Bellator has not matched Zuffa’s contract.
It's a shame that Alvarez will continue to be stuck in limbo for the time being. Just because he was denied an injunction, doesn't mean that the legal battle is over. The case could still go to trial, and Alvarez now has the words of a judge that the difference between FOX and Spike has the potential to be recognized as vast.
The one thing that concerns me is the relationship status between Alvarez and Bellator if he has to end up staying in the organization. What an awkward situation to be in.
I understand why Bellator is refusing to back down. They want to have the precedent set in stone in case another situation like this arises in the future. But after all of the negative publicity and accusations thrown back and forth, it might make more sense just to let Eddie walk at this point. Like Dana said, he isn't even their champion.
Notes and nuggets from Chicago
Jackson talks often about no longer being happy in UFC and looks forward to leaving the promotion after Saturday night’s bout against Teixeira. But Jackson won’t be all smiles when it’s over.
“I will miss a lot of things. I will miss Burt Watson backstage. He’s funny; he’s cool to hang around,” Jackson told ESPN.com. “Honestly, if you are on Dana’s good side, he’s one of the coolest guys. Lorenzo Fertitta’s always been cool with me; and Frank [Fertitta]. I will miss the good fans. When you’re walking back to the locker room, when you win, the fans are cheering you on. There are a lot of things about the UFC that I will miss.”
HT to The UG for the find.
Alvarez hopes for court decision, UFC move
Alvarez is in the middle of a legal tug-of-war between UFC and his former promoter, Bellator. The fighter wants to compete in UFC; Bellator, however, isn’t ready to relinquish his services.
But on Friday, Alvarez’s future could become a little clearer. His attorneys and those representing Bellator will appear before United States District Court judge Jose L. Linares at the Martin Luther King Federal Building in Newark, N.J., to argue whether Alvarez can compete at an upcoming UFC event in April.
“I’ll be very relieved [when the Friday hearing concludes],” Alvarez told ESPN.com. “Hopefully, they will come to a judgment this Friday. But I’m not setting my expectations too high; I’ll just be setting myself up for disappointment.
“I just want to take things as they go; I’m not trying to control things that are not in my control. If we manage to get this thing settled this weekend I will be very happy. If not, then me, my management team [Authentic Sports Management] and the attorneys who are working this on my behalf are patient; we’ll wait and get the result that we want.”
If the judge sides in Alvarez's favor and he is free to go to the UFC, it is widely expected that Alvarez will fight in the co-main event at UFC 159 on April 27 in New Jersey, potentially against either Gray Maynard or Jim Miller in a title eliminator.
It could honestly go either way, and it really all comes down to how Judge Linares is going to interpret the PPV portion of the offer. The UFC is obviously a mainstay and Bellator claims that they will go that route if they do retain Alvarez's services, but they have never have to date. Will their promise be enough to hold up in court?