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After both companies took last weekend off from airing fights, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and Bellator bested their marks from the Nov. 16 levels, but both shows fell just under their fall/winter season average.
The Ultimate Fighter on Friday night did 804,000 viewers, up 25 percent from the 643,000 on Nov. 16. The show featured two quarterfinal fights in the current season's welterweight tournament with Jon Manley beating Joey Rivera and Montreal's Mike Ricci beating fellow Canadian Michael Hill. The Ricci vs. Hill match that had some pre-fight heat stemming from Ricci asking for the fight even though the two Canadians had an agreement not to fight until the finals.
The next-to-last regular episode of the season was above bottom numbers, but it was only seventh place in audience among the 11 episodes. It also came on a night with less than usual major sports competition, since the only NBA game on ESPN didn't start until 10:41 p.m.
The season is averaging 835,000 viewers per episode, down from about 1 million for the spring season.
The two winners will meet on Dec. 15 on the TUF finale show from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.
Ricci has been the one fighter this season who has had television exposure outside of the show in recent weeks. He was featured as one of the best friends and a training partner of Rory MacDonald on FOX's "Road to the Octagon" show that aired on Sunday. He also was shown training in a Fuel TV feature looking at the Tri-Star Gym a few weeks ago that had a number of airings.
Bellator 82 drew 156,000 viewers. The show was headlined by 22-year-old Andrey Koreshkov of Omsk, Russia, winning the season-long welterweight tournament with a decision win over Lyman Good, That's in the normal range of what the show has been doing all season, up slightly from the 149,000 figure of the Nov. 16 show, and the best number the show has done since Nov. 2. Bellator has two more episodes on MTV 2, with the season finishing on Dec. 14, before it moves to Spike in January on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET.
Bellator is averaging 165,000 viewers this season, up from the 155,000 average for the spring season.
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