The Ultimate Fighter is heading into its seventeenth season in the United States on a new night and in a new time slot, hoping to regain the popularity it once had. Internationally, the series is thriving.
UFC president Dana White recently said in a keynote speech at NMX 2013 that The Ultimate Fighter Brazil is drawing NFL-type numbers.
“I didn’t see Brazil coming and becoming as big as it has. Their economy has taken off there. It’s one of the fourth largest economies in the world now,” said White.
“Brazil has been a rocket ship for us. We did a television deal down there which is the equivalent of being on Fox, but with no competitors. The ratings that we pull down there, just on the reality show, are the equivalent of what the NFL does here on television.”
It’s no surprise that The Ultimate Fighter and the UFC have seen success in Brazil. Brazil has a long tradition of mixed martial arts and its own brand of jiu-jitsu. The UFC’s roots are grounded in Brazil, but the level of success has far exceeded expectations.
“As far as the fights, when we do a live fight on free TV (in Brazil) 65 million people watch,” said the UFC president. “We’ve been on TV down there for a couple years and we’re pulling 65 million viewers, pretty strong.”
The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2 is currently in production, featuring welterweights. Brazilian legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum are slated to be the opposing coaches.