At the Press Conference following UFC 101, Dana White said that the idea of combining the two Zuffa-owned organizations was being discussed.
According to reports, Versus, the main outlet for the WEC, and DirecTV aren’t quite seeing eye-to-eye, which could lead to the network, and therefore the WEC, being dropped altogether when their contract expires on August 31.
With the real possibility existing that the end of the month could mean the end of the line in terms of television exposure for the WEC, a possible merger with the UFC makes sense now more than ever.
While there would certainly be a great number of logistical questions that would need to be answered (staffing, operations, etc.), bringing the ultra-entertaining lighter weights into the UFC fold would certainly present some interesting options.
Zuffa’s outstanding relationship with Spike TV could serve as a strong starting point.
Instead of hours of Unleashed featuring fights even casual fans have seen a time or two, some of that airtime could be dedicated to creating exposure for WEC standouts like Mike Brown, Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres and Brian Bowles.
Last weekend illustrated the loyalty of UFC fans, as a rebroadcast of UFC 100 drew much larger numbers than Strikeforce’s live event on Showtime. Though both were clearly successful for their respective brands, it’s clear that if you put “UFC” in front of it, a large number of viewers are going to tune in.
Additionally, why wouldn’t you want to add a new level of excitement and energy to your organization?
WEC events are routinely more entertaining and full of action than their UFC counterparts, as was the case when the two organizations went live on back-to-back nights at the start of the month.
Though UFC 101 featured the bigger names and certainly drew a bigger audience, as a whole, WEC 42 was a much more complete card with more entertaining fights, including Brian Bowles’ upset of Miguel Torres in the main event.
Certainly fight fans would be more interested in seeing three rounds of excitement like that delivered by Dominick Cruz and Joseph Benavidez than the boredom that was Kendall Grove versus Ricardo Almeida?
Opponents to such a merger often cite the inevitable release of various fighters to accommodate such a move, as the UFC would undoubtedly have to make some roster deletions should this take place.
That being said, the UFC routinely trims their rosters to make room for newly acquired talent, so how would this potential merger and influx of talent be any different?
In fact, it would be an even more reasonable move as the UFC would be bringing in some of the top fighters in the world in the Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions, as well as some talented lightweights at the expense of fighters currently residing at the bottom of their respective divisional totem poles.
Honestly, who would you rather see fight: WEC lightweights Jamie Varner, Donald Cerrone and Ben “Smooth” Henderson or guys like Rolando Delgado, Alex Karalexis and Dennis Siver, fighters who reside in the bottom quarter of the UFC depth chart?
Just in the last two weeks, the UFC has cut ties with fighters like Thales Leites and Tamdan McCrory at the expense of veteran acquisitions Vladimir Matyushenko and Phil Baroni, to name two.
Doesn’t Urijah Faber have more appeal and drawing power than those two returning warriors combined?
With the market for Mixed Martial Arts and the exposure of the UFC growing with each passing day, an influx of championship-caliber competitors to what is already the deepest and most talented roster of fighters in the business would only further strengthen the standing of the UFC as the premier organization in the world.
Not only that, but adding the two new divisions would provide two new titles for the organization, giving them even more championship fights to serve as headliner for pay-per-view cards.
Though it would certainly take some time to introduce the incoming fighters and champions to those who currently reside in the UFC vacuum, it wouldn’t take long for the talents of some of the top WEC fighters to shine through, transforming them from unknown quantities to fan favorites and headlining acts.
Of course, all of this remains speculative at this point.
Some will be strongly opposed to such action, while others will see the merits of this potential move.
Either way, we’ll keep you posted on any progress.
In the meantime, tell us what you think…