The UFC's poor decision making has squandered the opportunity for the promotion to promote Ben Henderson. Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Yesterday during the UFC on Fox conference call with UFC President Dana White, champion Cain Velasquez, and challenger Junior dos Santos, news was finally released regarding the status of the main card festivities, specifically whether the one-hour special would feature more than one fight. White confirmed during the call that the special event on November 12 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California would only feature the UFC heavyweight championship bout on the network broadcast, even if it only lasts thirty seconds.
The news leaves the scheduled lightweight bout between former WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson and UFC veteran Clay Guida out in the cold. It was originally thought that Fox executives and the UFC would find a way to include the anticipated bout on the broadcast, likely as a fill-in fight if the title bout ended quickly. Unfortunately, that won't be the case.
The decision to include Henderson vs. Guida on the UFC on Fox card seemed like an obvious and brilliant move at the time. The UFC needs to build stars, and youthful fighters like Ben Henderson and Rory MacDonald were constantly brought up by fans as possible fighters the UFC could push on the platform. Henderson just so happened to wallop surging UFC veteran Jim Miller at UFC on Versus 5 in August, raising his stock considerably with the win and putting himself within striking distance of the title.
Now, the fight is stuck headlining the preliminary card, which won't receive the attention from casual fans it deserves. The logic behind adding Henderson vs. Guida to the UFC on Fox card in the first place reeks of poor decision making by the UFC. It's something we aren't accustomed to seeing on a regular basis, and that's likely why the UFC is one of the most successful organizations in the business. Unfortunately, this is a major slip-up.
The premature move to add the fight to the UFC on Fox card makes one wonder if the UFC assumed this fight would make the broadcast because of its relevance to the division or their desire to push a guy like Henderson. Perhaps Fox said no to the request later in the ballgame, but one must wonder how the UFC didn't foresee that conclusion? If they had, Henderson vs. Guida could have served as a headliner for UFC 138 or perhaps a main card bout on UFC 139.
Now, the relevant, highly-anticipated lightweight bout is relegated to the void of the Facebook preliminary card. Hardcore fans will obviously watch the fight in all its glory, but how does the UFC push the winner of this fight into contention with a performance that wasn't under the magnifying glass of casual fans?
I don't think they will. Not only has the UFC squandered a great opportunity to promote both fighters, but I think the poor decision creates another layer between contention and a title shot for both men. The UFC will undoubtedly want to create buzz around any potential lightweight title fight, and that can't be done when your fight is headlining the preliminary card on Facebook. They have to make up for the lost opportunity, and pitting the winner of Henderson vs. Guida against another worthy challenger, perhaps Cerrone vs. Diaz, may be the solution for next year.
The UFC made a major mistake in pushing Bendo vs. Guida to the UFC on Fox card too soon. Hoping for the possibility that the fight makes the network broadcast seems uncharacteristic of a promoter like Dana White, who has been always hesitant to confirm fights until the ink has dried on a contract. In this instance, it obviously wasn't confirmed that the fight was taking place on the UFC on Fox broadcast yet, so why was the fight scheduled to take place on the card regardless? It doesn't make any sense and that error has not only cost the UFC money, but it has wasted a golden opportunity to promote a youthful fighter like Ben Henderson.