Folha de S.Paulo reports that the Ultimate Fighter Brazil has been cancelled following it's second season. We are working to confirm this story and will have more details as it unfolds.
Alarm bells are ringing. I know we've all disparaged the Ultimate Fighter (TUF) setup before, and as its ratings sagged many hoped that it would be brought to a speedy conclusion. But the UFC has long maintained that TUF is core to their business model, especially in their plans toward global expansion. And after a wildly successful first season in Brazil, it appeared that they had a point.
If they could prop up a show in the US, it would provide them with a baseline comparison for fans around the world watching similar versions of the Ultimate Fighter in their home country. When season 1 of the TUF Brazil aired it drew a massive 8 million viewers and while it may not have maintained those numbers across the entire season, it was roundly hailed a great success. The decline, however, has been steep. It portends to a reality that the TUF model goes stale quickly as fans realize that the show's fighters have a very limited ceiling, and that a format that promises excitement often fails to deliver.
Just last month Folha de S.Paulo talked to UFC Brazil CEO Grace Tourinho about the expansion plans for the UFC in Brazil. She had this to say:
What is the goal for Brazil?
Make it our main market. There is a lot of potential and we will work together more of our partners. Our audience is constantly increasing, see social media. The number of pay-per-view will grow, especially with more editions of [reality show] 'The Ultimate Fighter Brazil'. There are initiatives to give more visibility. We want to bring more events to cities. (translation via google)
Unfortunately, TUF Brazil 2: Team Nogueira vs. Team Werdum has reportedly averaged only 1 million viewers per episode, and for a major network like Rede Globo, that's probably not good enough. Ataque Total reports that the network has decided to pull the plug on the show following the conclusion of it's second season. There is no information as to whether the Zuffa will seek out another network partner for the program in Brazil, or whether Globo may look to move the program to a lower market channel.
Whatever the result, hopefully this news has done what TUF: Live couldn't and awakened the UFC brass to the idea that the future of the UFC is not, and should not be, bound up with the future of the Ultimate Fighter.
MMAJunkie has since released a statement from the UFC.
"The information is inaccurate," officials said in a statement sent to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Globo are happy with this successful partnership, which includes broadcasts of a few of the UFC's main events and exclusivity for the reality show in Brazil."
It's not much more than a band-aid, as it fails to address what parts, or in what ways, the information is inaccurate and doesn't go as far as to say a third season is in the works. More details will no doubt be available soon, and hopefully they will paint a clearer picture of what awaits the Ultimate Fighter Brazil.