What’s going on with the WEC seems to be the big question coming out of Portland this weekend.
Yesterday, at the UFC 102 pre-fight press conference, Dana White said the UFC is probably adding lighter weight classes “soon,” but did that necessarily mean Zuffa is merging the WEC with the UFC? Not exactly. In fact, they just inked a new deal with Versus to air more WEC programming.
“(The chances of us bringing lighter weight classes to the UFC are) very good, and probably real soon,” White said. “We’re doing like three fights a month next year.”
“That has nothing to do with anything,” White said. “I’m not saying the WEC’s going away. There’s obviously some things I need to figure out and things that I’m working on right now. But I have a new TV deal with VERSUS (to air WEC programming).”
So, now the question is, does that mean the top talent in the WEC will move over to the UFC and the WEC will essentially become a minor league for the lighter weight classes? Dana didn’t say, but he conceded that the WEC fighters are underpaid.
“Even with all the things that we know how to do and the deal that we have with Versus — which is a great deal — it’s still hard to make money and to pay the guys what they deserve to be paid, or what they think they deserve to be paid, and to run the business and make it a profitable business,” said White. “There is always going to be huge discrepancy in the pay between WEC and UFC.”
“There’s obviously some things that need to be worked out, but we can figure this thing out,” White said. “We’ve had bigger problems.”
I really can’t see the UFC taking on the lighter weight classes, but not bringing over the best fighters in those divisions especially when they already have most of them under Zuffa contract. Why even do it if you’re not going to feature guys like Mike Brown, Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres, Brian Bowles, etc.? The UFC is supposed to be about showcasing the world’s best fighters, so it wouldn’t make much sense for them to sign second-tier fighters to fill the UFC’s featherweight, bantamweight, and possibly even lighter weight classes.
So regardless of whether they officially merge or not, I suspect fans and the fighters are going to get what they want here. How they’ll be able to keep people interested in the WEC if that’s the direction they go in, I have no idea, but honestly, I really don’t care it. I just want to see the lighter guys get the recognition and paydays they deserve.