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Dana White: UFC on ESPN could spell the end of TUF

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor - News Conference Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Currently airing season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), FOX Sports 1 has committed to one final round of the combat sports reality show — designed to help Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) populate its featherweight division — in the second half of 2018.

What happens after that is anyone’s guess.

That’s because UFC will be leaving FOX for greener pastures on ESPN, and promotion president Dana White didn’t sound too convinced that TUF would be part of the network’s programming line up.

“We’re coming up on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter,” White told MMA Junkie (via MMA Fighting). “We don’t know. It might be the last one. 13 years, The Ultimate Fighter has gone, it’s incredible.”

TUF has produced several UFC champions since its 2005 debut. All four winners of the first four seasons went on to capture the crown in their respective weight classes and in recent years, TJ Dillashaw, Rose Namajunas, and Nicco Montano all walked away with division titles.

That said, it’s been difficult to maintain fan interest, at least from a ratings perspective, as the formula has remained largely unchanged. In fact, moving from Spike TV to FOX took away most of the alcohol-induced antics, leaving more “reality” in the “show.”

For better or for worse.