It’s official: World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) will merge into Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) effective early 2011. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) aficionados, who have been begging for the merger for years, will no doubt be satisfied when their favorite World Extreme Cagefighting competitors will get to showcase their talents in the forum they so rightly deserve to compete in.
UFC President Dana White held a conference call today confirming the news. There will be two more events-WEC 52 (Urijah Faber vs Takeya Mizugaki) and WEC 53 (Ben Henderson vs Anthony Pettis for the WEC Lightweight Title)-before WEC fighters step into the octagon as UFC fighters beginning in 2011. The winner of Henderson/Pettis is expected to face the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard in a champion vs. champion showdown possibly in mid-2011.
Meanwhile, current WEC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo will compete at the New Years UFC show as the first UFC Featherweight Champion. UFC will continue airing events on Versus, the television outlet of WEC since 2007 and select UFC shows first airing earlier this year-although the void that will be left by missing WEC events will not be filled by anymore UFC events other than the four events that the UFC provides Versus in accordance to their broadcasting agreement.
In December 2006, Zuffa-owners of the popular MMA brand Ultimate Fighting Championship-purchased World Extreme Cagefighting, a lesser-known brand which showcased up-and-coming prospects. What set the WEC apart from other organizations was the fact that the promotion showcased lighter fighters-most notably from the 145-pound and 135-pound weight classes.
Slowly over the years, the heavier weight classes that the WEC also featured merged with UFC’s existing weight classes. However, the WEC was still alive, surviving and flourishing with its lighter-weight classes. Because of the speed and agility of the fighters who fought for these weight classes, the WEC developed a reputation of broadcasting exciting events on Versus, leading MMA fans and journalists to call for a merger between the WEC and UFC so lighter fighters could get the limelight and money a top fighter does in the most recognizable MMA promotion worldwide.
(Information in this article is taken from a conference call held by UFC President Dana White on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2010, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Included in the conference call was the announcement of the WEC-UFC merger and a Q&A session for journalists present.)