It's not to try to pry away MMA hipsters, but the casual fans Bellator is going for by using Tito and Rampage. So the UFC might want to give them an alternative by using a free card as direct competition. I'm sure the UFC wants to keep Bellator from getting every dollar they can after all of Spike's counter-programming.
They have a Fight for the troops scheduled a few days later, It doesn't even have a venue yet so it's probably easy to move to Saturday. The only problem would be if FS1 has a college football game for that Saturday evening.
there are very good reasons why the UFC should not (and probably won't) counter program this.
1st is purely logical, you only have a certain amount of time and energy in a day. As a company owner, you want to use that time and energy, not to act against your competitors by preventing them to succeed, but by ensuring that your own business is successful and always evolving.
2nd is related to image and communication
You don't want to draw attention to your competitors, you don't want your target audience to believe that you are threatened by your competitors, they have to see you above the game, especially for the UFC, to have this "untouchable" image.
Not only by counter programming, they would draw extra attention to bellator's PPV, but also they will send the message that they feel threatened enough to use their time and energy against their competitors rather than for themselves.
Zuffa has proven time and time again that they are very good, excellent businessmen. they have a clear vision of what they are doing and where they want to go. I really can't imagine them doing such a "rookie mistake" business wise.
What bellator does is even more retarded, they're going toe to toe against the biggest fish in the pond. They're giving up their extremely positive image, which has proven very successful in drawing hardcore MMA fans as well as casuals on the way, establishing a very solid and faithful fanbase, they're giving it up to become what they claimed they were up against, losing credibility amongst their most loyal fans in the process.
I was really starting to look forward to what bellator had in stores for us in terms of quality competitive fights, and somehow I still hope they can keep this thing going, but the tito/rampage thing is proper ridiculous.
The only gain they have from it is that it effectively promotes their brand by making people talk more about it. So was it what they were after? it's possible, but at the cost of some credibility amongst their most loyal fans.