`Ultimate Fighter' Punches Up Record Ratings For Spike9/18/2009 10:10 AM Eastern
The Sept. 16 season premiere of Spike TV's mixed martial arts reality show The Ultimate Fighter pinned down 4.1 million viewers, a network record audience for an original series.
The 10th season of the Ultimate Fighting Championship-produced show bested the 3.4 million viewers for Spike's The Joe Schmo Show season finale in 2003, according to Spike officials. The series premiere body slammed the previous Ultimate Fighter top audience of 2.8 million genrated by the season three finale in 2006.
The Spike telecast also bested all competition on television for the night - including NBC's The Jay Leno Show, and America's Got Talent; and Fox's Glee and So You Think You Can Dance - in several demos including Men 18-34 (1.5 million viewers) and men 18-49 (2.4 million viewers), said the network.
This season's Ultimate Fighter focuses on the heavyweight division and features former UFC light heavyweight champions "Suga" Rashad Evans and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as coaches. The cast includes a four former NFL players and former EliteXC fighter Kimbo Slice.
"The intriguing cast of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights has true mass appeal, and the numbers show that this sport is not just for a niche audience anymore," said Spike TV president Kevin Kay in a statement.