UFC president Dana White on Thursday made his major announcement, revealing that the promotion is not yet implementing a UFC Network, but is folding the WEC into the UFC.
“There is no more WEC, those weight classes are rolling into the UFC,” said White. “Those fighters will remain in the UFC.”
And that means all the fighters in the WEC and then some. White confirmed that he intends to fold the promotion’s entire roster into the UFC and that there is enough worldwide demand to continue signing even more fighters than that.
“It’s time, as we continue to grow globally, we’re doing enough fights to fold this thing into the UFC,” he said. “All of these weight classes should be in the UFC. Now, as we continue to grow and go into different markets, we can continue to add weight divisions.”
As for the WEC’s current champions, a roadmap for their move into the UFC is already laid out. Current featherweight champion Jose Aldo is now the UFC featherweight champion. Dominick Cruz puts his WEC bantamweight title on the line on Dec. 16 against Scott Jorgensen, and the winner of that fight will be the UFC bantamweight titleholder.
The only crossover division between the two promotions is the lightweight class where Frankie Edgar holds the UFC title and Ben Henderson the WEC belt. Henderson will defend that belt against Anthony Pettis on Dec. 16 in Las Vegas. Edgar defends his strap against Gray Maynard. The winner of the Henderson-Pettis bout will then automatically get a shot at the winner of the Edgar-Maynard bout in a title unification bout.
The winner of Henderson-Pettis will be the WEC lightweight champion challenging the UFC champion.
“There is a still a lot of work to be done,” said White.
Especially on the television front, things get complicated. The UFC has been a mainstay on Spike TV for years, since the emergence of The Ultimate Fighter reality series, and WEC has had a home on Versus.
The UFC will be the promotion’s sole presence on Versus, although it won’t exactly be picking up the WEC’s presence on the sports network.
“We ended up getting a deal for the UFC on Versus. We’re allowed to do four fights on Versus, that’s what we can do now,” said White. That deal is one that was struck while the WEC was still on Versus and the UFC on Spike, and that deal won’t change, at least not immediately.
The UFC plans on doing four events on Versus in 2011. What the future of TV holds remains to be seen, “I have no clue.” Although he did say, “We’re maxed out on pay-per-view.”
The additional weight classes in the UFC will allow the promotion to put on more title fights and give them more match-ups for their pay-per-view events, but it won’t increase the number of pay-per-view events.
The merger of the UFC and the WEC has been bantered about for a long time, so why now? There’s no clear answer, they just felt it was time to make the move as the UFC’s global expansion continues, according to White.
“Now is the time, it made sense.”