October 28, 2010
UFC-WEC merger means more fights
By JOSE RODRIGUEZ, QMI Agency
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is lightening up.
UFC president Dana White announced Thursday the company is folding its World Extreme Cagefighting promotion into the mother show.
The move means the UFC will immediately inherit 145-pound and 135lb weight classes.
"As the UFC continues to evolve and grow globally, we want to be able to give fans title fights in every weight division," said White.
"This is a big day for the sport and the athletes who will have the opportunity to fight on the biggest stage in the world.
"We've always wanted to have every weight class in the UFC. Now that we are rolling into more and more countries we can."
The only duplication between the two fight clubs was the lightweight division -- 155 lbs.
White said the winner of the UFC lightweight title fight between champ Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard -- slated for early 2011 -- will face the winner of the bout between WEC champ Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis set to take place in December.
White said Jose Aldo will immediately be recognized as the UFC featherweight (145 lb) champ and Dominick Cruz will be the UFC bantamweight (135 lb) champ.
Aldo will make his UFC debut at UFC 125 on Jan. 1 in La Vegas.
White also announced a new TV deal with the U.S.-based Versus network to air four free UFC fights a year. Versus had aired the WEC previously, as did The Score in Canada. The UFC's TV deal with Spike and Rogers Sportsnet will remain in place as well.
White said the timing for the merger was right because of the growing global market.
He made no bones about his company's plans to host an event in Mexico -- especially now that the UFC has its first Mexican-American heavyweight champ in Cain Velasquez.
He said a move to Mexico -- a historical hotbed for lighter weight fighters -- and China will expand the UFC's reach and create more shows each year.
White did rule out a super-heavyweight class (265 lb-plus) and a women's division.
"That isn't going to happen any time soon. There isn't enough women out there to create an entire division," said White.
The merger brings the total UFC weight classes to seven.
They are: Heavyweight (265 lb), light-heavyweight (205 lb), middleweight (185 lb), welterweight (170 lb) lightweight (155 lb) featherweight (145 lb) and bantamweight (135 lb).