Most Watched "The Ultimate Fighter" Finale In Franchise History And Biggest Audience For A Live UFC Fight In 2009
New York, NY, December 8, 2009 – Spike TV’s telecast of "The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights" live finale on Saturday, December 5 was the most watched final episode in the 10 seasons of the TUF franchise, peaking with 5.2 million viewers and a 5.9 rating with Men 18-34 for the Kimbo Slice-Houston Alexander fight. The over 5 million viewers were the most to watch a live UFC fight in 2009.
Overall, the three-hour fight card drew 3.7 million viewers, a 2.4 household rating, a 4.6 in Men 18-34 and was the most-watched show on cable with Men 18-34 and Men 18-49 for the day.
"The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights" live finale was the third most-watched UFC fight card ever.
Kimbo came up just shy of Fedor's 5.46 million viewers, but of course Spike's narrower reach on cable makes these numbers ultra impressive. None of it is particularly shocking, obviously, but impressive nonetheless.
As everyone is rightly suspecting, all bets are on Slice's future fights being part of a PPV card. The UFC is ready to make serious money from his popularity now that he's been partially legitimized and cleaned up. In evaluating what these numbers mean for Slice, we have indisputable proof the masses are still interested in what he can do. If one considers that Slice has been under similar forms of pressure since November 2007, the idea that people are still hanging on to the idea of what he could become speaks volumes about how much more his popularity can be developed...provided he can win. Slice will be spotted the requisite forgiveness after a couple of losses in the UFC, but to have any career momentum he's got to win and win big. Period.
Which is where the real rub is. The win over Alexander is legitimate and no one can say otherwise. But we can't overextend ourselves in evaluating Slice's game. If he enters the heavyweight division, the easiest tasks are arguably Al-Turk or Hardonk, both of whom are more than capable of defeating Slice. For the forseeable future, the UFC has to find talent that is dangerous but also limited and lopsided. Alexander was a credible challenge, but the matchmaking was tailored to maximize Slice's chances of winning. Alexander has no ground game to speak of and less polished striking than Slice. Finding opposition that won't categorically exploit his shortcomings or overshadow his strengths is a delicate balancing act, so expect more potential catchweight fights with carefully screened opponents.
In the meantime, I hope Slice is being nicely compensated for single-handidly delivering a season's worth of ratings from two fights. After all of the insults, dismissals, questions and doubts, that's one hell of an achievement. Kimbo Slice is the real peoples' champion.