The question was never, would TUF’s ratings drop without Kimbo Slice? It was always, how far would they drop without Kimbo Slice? It looks like the answer is far, but not too far.

In unsurprising ratings news, Spike TV today announced that the debut episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 11” witnessed a 53 percent decline in viewership from the first episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 10.”

Despite the drop-off, the 1.9 million viewers that tuned in represents a 9 percent increase from 2009’s “The Ultimate Fighter 9” debut.

The overall ratings for the program include a 1.8 in men 18-49, a 2.1 in men 18-34, a 1.3 in men 18-24 and a strong 2.6 in men 25-34.

In other words, the core TUF audience is still there, plus a small group of new fans Kimbo brought in that actually found something appealing about last season. Or that’s my theory at least.

Ratings for UFC Fight Night 21 are also in. They were on par with previous Fight Night cards drawing an average viewership of 1.6 million.

The March 31 broadcast peaked with 2 million viewers, who tuned in for Kenny Florian’s third-round submission win over Japanese import Takanori Gomi.

The broadcast was the No. 1 rated program in its timeslot among men 18-34 and men 18-49.

The peak matches the 2 million viewers for January’s UFC Fight Night 20 event in Virginia. That card featured a main-event between “The Ultimate Fighter” veterans Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz, though the average viewership of 1.7 million viewers for the full card was slightly higher than that of UFC Fight Night 21.

1.6 million isn’t anything to write home to mom about, but it’s not bad either, especially considering all the programming the UFC dropped on us in the past two weeks. Plus, it was still better than the 1.2 million that tuned in for the Versus card.

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