There are 800 million users on Facebook so it’s easy to see why the UFC has attempted to harness the social media site by streaming preliminary card fights to expand its brand. However, thus far, the promotion has managed to reach only one percent of the users—evidenced by the 8.4 million “likes” on their page.

Before going any further, I may as well state the fact that I do not have a Facebook account, nor do I plan on getting one anytime soon. Despite that fact, the promotion’s decision to stream the fights on the social media giant rather than UFC.com has always left me scratching my head.

If there is one thing that the UFC has done better than any other sports league, it is harness the power of social media. UFC President Dana White has more than two million followers on his personal Twitter account and each of the hundreds of fighters on the company’s roster has thousands of followers of their own. With that sort of reach, it’s hard to argue that they don’t know what they’re doing.

Yet, as I see it, they’re complicating things for a number of fans (and writers, in this case).

Why send viewers away from their website? Isn’t the goal to draw people in and keep them there? Why force the audience to spend their time signing up elsewhere?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to think that I only have this view because I choose not to join Facebook. But I’m not alone in that fact, or the thinking that it would be easier to keep the promotion’s content all in one place.

There could be a multitude of reasons as to why UFC has taken this approach. Maybe the Facebook servers can handle streaming content better than their own. Or perhaps they are banking on casual fans stumbling across the streams through their network of friends. Either case is justifiable, but why not make the fights available in more than one location?

On at least one occasion in the past—UFC 131—the promotion advertised that the fights would stream on YouTube in addition to Facebook. However, since that time they have abandoned that practice, and it is unclear why. All the more puzzling is the fact that press conferences and weigh-ins are typically streamed live through the company’s YouTube page. Why not include the free fights in the same manner?

It would be easy to use this as an opportunity to take potshots at Facebook, but that’s not the point. Like so many fans (and media), I just want to see the fights. The easiest solution has to be UFC.com, regardless of the motivation behind the current setup. Certainly the promotion has its reasons for doing things the way it does, but offering at least one alternative way to watch the preliminary card fights would go a long way for the sport, its fighters, its fans and at least this one writer.

Photo: Bantamweights Nick Denis (L) and Roland Delorme battled on Facebook (MMAFighting.com)

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