Strikeforce had been showing significant improvement in their ratings thus far in 2011, but that train seems to have come to a screeching halt with the release of the ratings for this past Saturday's Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semi-Finals. After the first two Grand Prix events landed in the top two all time Strikeforce ratings slots (741k viewers for Fedor vs. Silva and 624k viewers for Overeem vs. Werdum), Saturday's show pulled in just 274,000 viewers. This made the event the second worst major Strikeforce event performance since the Showtime deal.
This was the product of a card that, while solid in terms of fights, featured almost no one of significant name value.
Josh Barnett may be a former UFC champion, but that was well before the "boom period" for the sport and he has had basically no fights of consequence for casual fans in years. Nobody but hardcore MMA fans know who Sergei Kharitonov is. Daniel Cormier is a rising star but he's also a nobody in terms of being a draw.
The Strikeforce brand is simply not big enough to be a draw on its own and Zuffa provided very little support in pumping up the event, instead (understandably) focusing their PR on the much bigger news of the upcoming Fox event and the news that Brock Lesnar would return and face Alistair Overeem.
So an under-supported card featuring no names for a promotion that is clearly being picked over by its "big brother" drew terrible ratings. I suppose that shouldn't be a shock. But seeing that Bellator was almost able to pull off the same numbers is still pretty amazing.