by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Love him or hate him, whether you feel he’s developing into a legitimate mixed martial artist or not, there’s no arguing Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson’s effect on The Ultimate Fighter and the UFC.
He brings the eyeballs.
Spike TV on Tuesday revealed that Kimbo’s fight with Houston Alexander led the charge for “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights” finale, drawing a peak of 5.2 million viewers. The season 10 finale averaged 3.7 million viewers over the course of the three-hour telecast.
The ratings were strong enough to make the Kimbo versus Alexander fight the most watched UFC bout of 2009, the finale the most watched final episode in Ultimate Fighter history, and shattered the series’ average viewership.
The previous nine seasons of the series averaged two million viewers per episode. Season 10 averaged 3.4 million, which was bolstered by the episode featuring Kimbo versus eventual season winner Roy Nelson. Their episode drew an average of 5.3 million viewers, including 6.1 million that tuned in during the time of their fight.
Both of Kimbo’s fights this season are firmly notched amongst the top ten most watched non-pay-per-view fights in mixed martial arts history in the United States, as are his two bouts for EliteXC on CBS.
Perhaps more important than the totals and averages is Kimbo’s and the UFC’s drawing power in key advertiser demographics. The Ultimate Fighter was consistently one of, if not the top draw amongst the coveted Men 18-34 and Men 18-49 demographics. Saturday night’s Ultimate Fighter finale was no different, with Spike TV boasting it as “the most-watched show on cable with Men 18-34 and Men 18-49 for the day.”
Sports are big business these days, and mixed martial arts is no different. Whether he’s ever going to crack the top tier of talent in the UFC is definitely at question, but don’t expect Kimbo Slice to leave the confines of the Octagon any time soon.