The Ultimate Fighter Season 31 aired last Tuesday on ESPN with Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler as the head coaches. The first episode on ESPN averaged 294K viewers with 14% in the 18-49 demographic.
#TUF31 Episode 1 on ESPN averaged 294K viewers (0.14 in the 18-49 demo)
The last season on FS1:
TUF 28 Episode 1: 186K (0.07)
The last time Conor McGregor coached (also on FS1)
TUF 22 Episode 1: 622K (0.31)
— Jed I. Goodman © (@jedigoodman) June 5, 2023
The Ultimate Fighter has lacked viewership over each of the last two seasons. Dana White believed that bringing in Conor McGregor would bring some life into the newest season but it didn't pull in the numbers most expected it to do.
If you put it into perspective, the last time The Ultimate Fighter aired on FS1 for season 28 instead of ESPN had 186K views on the very first episode. The coaches for that season were Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum who do not have the same type of following that Conor McGregor or even Michael Chandler possess. This season only did 108K more views in episode 1 than in episode 1 of season 28.
When Conor McGregor first made his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter back on Season 22, the first episode 1 more than double the viewership of Season 31's debut. This could be because maybe Conor McGregor isn't the draw that Dana White and the UFC brass think he is anymore.
McGregor does have millions of followers across all social accounts but it's his inconsistencies with fighting that leave a lot less to be desired. He just doesn't seem to have that same hunger he once has when he was the double champ in the UFC and that has shown in his recent losses.
Now, Dana White and the UFC do not have a timetable for his return or if he will return at all to fight Michael Chandler who he was supposedly scheduled to fight at a later date this year. Maybe, just maybe Conor McGregor just doesn't sell as much as Dana White thinks he can and that is why we may not see Conor McGregor fight again in the UFC.