With all due respect to UFC President Dana White, I'm not going to "shut up" about wanting to see Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson and neither should anyone else. It was a No. 1 contender fight in the UFC's deepest weight class and the co-main event on the Fox debut undercard. If people weren't clamoring to see this lightweight epic, White should be worried.
I'm not going to rehash the argument of whether they should have aired the fight, whose decision it was to air or not air or anything of the like. What's done is done and all both sides can do now is learn from this kickoff to a potentially great relationship.
What I do want to dish about is what the UFC needs to do to rectify the situation now. Unless you just woke up from a Nyquil-induced nap, you've likely heard that Henderson defeated Guida in a fun and spirited battle that could only be seen domestically in the U.S. on Facebook, FoxSports.com or Fox Sports Deportes.
While it's idealistic to think that millions huddled around their laptops and watched, my guess is that the 18-34 demographic didn't do that in droves on Saturday at 8:30 PM EST. While video consumption these days is staggering, bars aren't streaming Facebook fights and it's a bit antisocial at parties to watch a computer screen for 15-20 minutes.
Luckily for everyone involved, the UFC is sitting on a very desired and hot piece of content that a large amount of people want to see for the first time or relive -- content that can serve as the kickoff to what should be a great battle between 155-pound champion Frankie Edgar and Henderson in February. The solution is cheap, easy to implement and is accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and computer.
All the UFC has to do is make the fight available on UFC.com for free streaming immediately.
Obviously, the desire is to have the ability to watch the fight in full HD-TV glory but where could that be done ASAP? An option could be a bonus 30-minute show following this week's The Ultimate Fighter, but that seems like an unlikely option with the fractured UFC/Spike relationship and logistics involved. UFC Unleashed is fine, but no one should have to wait that long.
Making Henderson/Guida available online would help the promotion capitalize on the buzz, driving traffic to their slick website and promoted via the UFC's favorite social media tool of choice: Twitter...with some Facebook promotion thrown in there too.
By not making the fight available immediately, the UFC is missing out on a goodwill opportunity with their fans and also giving a subconscious nod toward one of their most hated rivals: piracy. How so? If you didn't see the fight live and really wanted to check it out, where did you go? Yeah, that's what I thought: a site that makes the videos available illegally. I'm not judging, but everyone does it from time-to-time or in some cases, all the time.
Now imagine you're one of these "new fans" that jumped on board after Saturday's Fox event and heard that Henderson/Guida was awesome. You weren't aware of the Facebook stream and really want to quench your thirst for some more UFC. You do some Google searching for the fight video and are amazed to find out you don't really have to pay for anything if you choose not to. Why should the UFC lose that traffic to illegal sites? It's not a pay-per-view event where you're trying to entice replay buys. It was a free fight on Facebook that can have a long tail effect. When's the last time that happened?
That we've had to wait this long for some resolution is frustrating, but my gut instinct is that the Henderson/Guida replay will find its way onto Saturday's UFC 139 as a bonus for those ordering the show. If that was to happen, it would be a nice gesture but wouldn't have the impact as putting it on the UFC website now.
Despite what White suggested, buying a ticket to the event wasn't an option for this writer and because of a Saturday night social commitment with non-UFC fans, streaming via Facebook wasn't either. Does that means I should be penalized? Of course not. It's 2011 and all the UFC has to do to make this right by everyone involved (including the fighters who should have their talents promoted far and wide) is to put Henderson/Guida on UFC.com and let the magic of social networks and a rabid fanbase/media do the rest.