The very strong two-hour season debut of The Ultimate Fighter last week on FX pulled in a record audience since the show's move to the network, drawing 1.51 million viewers. Last night's episode, the standard TUF fare with training footage, in-house shots and an elimination fight, saw those numbers dip to 1.27 million according to TV By The Numbers.
Some falloff was likely expected from the show's debut and the 1.27 million number represents a drop of roughly 16%. This is almost the same drop-off that Bellator experienced between their debut card on Spike and last week's follow-up. Not that the two are perfect comparisons, but it does help to show some of the standard fluctuations with MMA programming on cable.
The move from Friday to Tuesday has done good things for TUF through two weeks, but it's still early and the quality of the show and the entertainment value of the cast will determine things over the weeks to come.
Speaking just based on hearsay and common sense, I think if they can keep that average over 1.2 million per week they're going to be happy with the overall performance of the show. Continual growth would be ideal (obviously) but the wild week-to-week fluctuations of past FX seasons can't continue. So stability and "decent" numbers are probably the key to this season, even with the talk of the "big expectations" from Fox brass.