Cagefighters add punch to UFC

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

In one fell swoop, the Ultimate Fighting Championship just silenced a bunch of boos in the stands.

The biggest knock on the UFC by once-a-month fans and fairweather event-goers has always been lumbering, tactical clinch-and-ground scraps that are more chess matches than wars.

By folding its World Extreme Cagefighting into the big show, it has immediately added speed and served notice to the higher weight classes that boring fights are even less acceptable in the new UFC.

With seven weight classes now vying for pay-per-view time, it would stand to reason some of the low-hanging fruit in each weight division -- if there is such a thing -- will be cut in the months to come.

The pressure to perform has been heightened.

President Dana White wouldn't commit to saying rosters will need to be trimmed.

"I don't know. We'll see how it goes," says White.

"I mean, the way it works in here is you come in and you keep winning, you know you stick around. Or if you lose fights but you're incredibly exciting you're sticking around for a while, too.

"I don't know there's going to be a short leash and some guys are going. Who knows?"

White says bringing in the bantamweight class (135 lbs.) and the featherweight division (145 lbs.) to the UFC has always been part of the plan.

But the timing was never quite right to absorb big-name WEC fighters like Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber.

This week, that changed.

"I mean, the fights in the lighter weight divisions have always been exciting, so it's never been like all the sudden we woke up and said wow, these fights are exciting," says White.

"You know, we always wanted to do this. We've always wanted to have every weight class in the UFC. The problem was we didn't have enough ... whether it was pay-per- view time or television time, etcetera to do it.

"Now, as we continue to roll into these other countries and do more and more fights it makes sense."

Mexico, China and India are on the radar and White says lighter classes make sense as a lure for countries like Mexico -- which has a rich history of lighter-weight fighters.

It is virtually guaranteed that some of those lighter weight classes will be featured at Toronto's first UFC card in 2011.

With London, Ont.'s Mark Hominick and Chris Horodecki riding winning streaks, one or both could be on Ontario's first major mixed martial arts event -- something White says will be historic.

"I think it's going to be huge," says White.

"Listen, in my 10 years of doing fights in the UFC, you know there's a few that stick out that are very memorable. I have a feeling that I'll never forget that event as long as I live.

"I think it's going to be huge. I think it's going to break every record. Believe me, I'm looking very forward to it."

jose.rodriguez@sunmedia.ca


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