Rogers Media has secured the Canadian rights to The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), an American reality television series and mixed martial arts (MMA) competition.
The show, which follows unknown, professional MMA fighters as they train and compete against each other in order to secure a contract with the UFC, will air Friday nights on FX Canada beginning next March.
Owned by Rogers Media and FX Networks, FX Canada is a Canadian version of Fox Entertainment Group's FX Channel. The digital specialty channel began airing on Rogers, and Eastlink cable on November 1st. The station is not currently available on Shaw Cable, Shaw Direct, Cogeco, Videotron or Bell TV.
The Ultimate Fighter was originally an experimental series financed by the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The series was aired on Spike TV for free as a last resort measure to gain mainstream exposure for mixed martial arts (MMA). Airing after World Wrestling Entertainment's flagship show Monday Night RAW, The Ultimate Fighter's debut episode was able to garner a 57% retention rate in viewers from RAW, which was double the usual rate for Spike TV. The live finale for the first season saw what fans consider to be an historic bout between Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar. The bout ended in a unanimous decision victory for Griffin and led to the show's renewal on Spike TV. A renewal that many MMA fans say was influential in building the popularity of the sport in North America. The fourteenth season was the last on Spike TV with subsequent seasons airing on FX Channel in the United States.
For the upcoming 15th season, TUF features a new series format. Each 60-minute episode focuses on two fighters training for the big fight. In the last 15 minutes of each episode, the competitors face off in an elimination bout, with the winner moving on to the next round. Coaches train alongside their fighters for the first 12 weeks of the season in preparation for the championship, which takes place in episode 13 in a three-hour finale.
Readers who don't have access to FX Canada are encouraged to contact Rogers Media and ask that the show air on available Rogers stations in their region of the country.
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