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UFC on FOX Experiences Ratings Decline

It’s been a tough week for MMA in the New York metropolitan area. The stretch began Saturday night at the IZOD Center when New Jersey’s Jim Miller suffered the first submission loss of his seven-year career once Nate Diaz made him tap to a guillotine choke in Round 2 of their main event. Days later, the crusty clowns in the New York State Assembly yet again didn’t bother to put the bill to sanction the sport up for a vote.

Then the Nielsen ratings for UFC on Fox 3 were released, and it indicated a significant dive from the debut show on November 12, 2011, when the heavyweight championship bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos drew 5.675 million viewers. The second show, headlined by Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis, did 4.661 million. Last Saturday, UFC on Fox 3 had 2.418 million total viewers and finished last in its time slot.

One can spin this all he or she wants — the event won its primary demographic (people 18-49), yet the 1.471 viewers was well below the 3.776 and 3.072 of UFC on Fox 1 and 2, respectively — but UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta is anything but worried. The two sides are in this deal for the long haul and the education is ongoing.

"Would we like to see the numbers be trending differently? Yes, of course," Fertitta told Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole. "But we’re not concerned and we don’t think it’s an overall reflection of our business.

"There are reasons for it. If you think about it, for the first [Fox] fight we had a massive amount of promotion within the NFL on Fox. And we led with our big show, the heavyweight championship, so of course, we were going to draw a much broader range of viewers."

Upcoming fights for the locals:
Gian Villante, a Wantagh, N.Y., resident and teammate of Chris Weidman at the Serra-Longo Academy, will meet Derrick Mehmen on the undercard of Strikeforce: Bartlett vs. Cormier Saturday, May 19, in San Jose, Calf.

Raised in Phoenix but relocated to Whippany, N.J., former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner competes in the Octagon for the first time since UFC 68 in 2007 against Edson Barboza at UFC 146 Memorial Day weekend. Varner was named as an injury replacement for Evan Dunham.

The UFC returns to Atlantic City for the first time in seven years June 22 at Revel. Gray Maynard fights Clay Guida in the main event.

Former UFC lightweight king Frankie Edgar’s rematch with Benson Henderson is official for UFC 150 August 11 in Denver. UFC president Dana White made the official announcement on FUEL TV’s UFC Tonight.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC