There are several reasons for this drop-off in viewers:
-- Lack of star power: The main card was not stocked with bankable stars, like in the past two events. There was no belt on the line, no outspoken promoter like Chael Sonnen, no well-known former champ like Rashad Evans. While Josh Koscheck has the reputation of being an MMA bad boy, it wasn't anywhere near what Sonnen and Davis brought to the last card. The shame is that the performances were great and had nothing to do with the names written on a fight card.
-- Mayweather/Cotto: Though the UFC did not go up directly against the marquee boxing match-up of the year, the Floyd Mayweather/Miguel Cotto bout did not help. Much of the week's pre-fight coverage was devoted to the big boxing event instead of MMA bouts, and contributed to the lack of buzz around the UFC fights.
-- No football: Something that hurt the UFC that they had no control over is that there was no football to promote the events. For the UFC's first two events on Fox, the NFL was in-season and gave considerable promotion to fights. Cain Velasquez appeared on set with the NFL on Fox crew, and ads were run throughout games. Without football and its broad audience and huge ratings, the UFC didn't have as much of a promotional push to pull in casual fans.
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- Martial Arts