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Despite ho-hum ratings, UFC will move forward with The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) on ESPN

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The upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) will be the last to air on FOX Sports 1, as the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is closing up shop and relocating to ESPN following this summer’s landmark television deal.

Promotion president Dana White was expected to retire the combat sports reality show after 13 years on the air; however, it will in fact return in 2019, though UFC will close the current TUF gym and move next door to a new, state-of-the-art facility.

“The Ultimate Fighter will continue,” White said (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “There’s still a huge market for The Ultimate Fighter. The Ultimate Fighter still does well. It’s still a big show and a big brand. Yeah, it’ll go on. We can do it with ESPN, ESPN+.”

That might come as a surprise when you consider this:

White insists TUF 27 returned “about a million viewers” each week after tallying up episodes recorded to DVR and that fans (and pundits) should not to be fooled by the “initial ratings” because the numbers are “much bigger.”

TUF 28, coached by middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and top 185-pound contender Kelvin Gastelum, debuts Aug. 29 with the live finale taking place on Nov. 30 on FOX Sports 1 at The Pearl inside Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For much more on TUF click here.