When Randy Couture left the UFC in January for a more comprehensive role with Spike, one of the projects he signed on for was a reality show featuring Bellator, a UFC competitor airing on Spike that Viacom bought a majority stake of late in 2011. That reality show is called Fight Master, and it debuted last week.
Fight Master is Spike's attempt at replicating the initial success of The Ultimate Fighter back in 2005. Essentially, it's the same type of fighting-based show that you're used to, however, the fighters choose one of four coaches (including Couture) as opposed to the coaches choosing the fighters. Through two episodes, and just 11 of the 16 elimination fights, ratings haven't been great. The second episode of the series that aired Wednesday on Spike drew 545,000 viewers and a 0.4 rating.
While that is an improvement on the debut episode's 432,000 viewers (which had a lead-in of live Bellator fights), it's a far cry from the 1.5 million viewers that the final season of The Ultimate Fighter got on Spike, and even the series-low 821,000 viewers that episode 11 of the first season of TUF on FX drew.
And now, this is where we sit. Spike thought it could simply replace the UFC with an alternative, and that the fans would continue to flock to the network as opposed to the brand. So far, a year and a half in to the UFC's deal with Fox, that hasn't happened, and the UFC brand continues to be the most recognizable in MMA.