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UFC & WEC To Merge In January 2011 (Update II: Jose Aldo Defends Title At UFC 125)

In a matter of months, Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz, Uriah Faber and the rest of the WEC roster will no longer fight for the WEC. Instead, they’ll get their long overdue shot to fight on the sport’s biggest stage — the UFC.

That’s right, the WEC is finally merging with the UFC, and it’s happening in January 2011. Dana White broke the news in this video interview with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, and said their rapid global expansion and the need for more fighters to fill more cards was the reason for the merger. The “timing” was finally right.

WEC 52 and WEC 53 scheduled for Nov. 11 and Dec. 16 will serve as the promotion’s last two events. Then in January, the WEC roster will be folded into the UFC, meaning there will now be UFC featherweight and bantamweight divisions with Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz (or Scott Jorgensen) as their respective champions. Aldo is expected to make his first UFC title defense in January, though it’s unknown who his challenger will be just yet.

As for the Versus TV deal, the UFC will run four shows on the network in 2011, the maximum their Spike deal allows. The cards will consist of UFC fighters from all weight classes, not just former WEC fighters.

More details are sure to come, I’ll keep this post updated…

Update: Here’s a list of updates from the conference call with Dana White.

  • WEC fighters will now get UFC-level paydays.
  • Jose Aldo will defend his UFC featherweight title on Jan. 1 at UFC 125. His opponent is not set.
  • Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard winner will face Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis winner for the UFC lightweight title
  • TUF will likely feature bantamweight and featherweight fighters sooner rather than later.
  • All WEC employees (non-fighters) will now work for the UFC including WEC ring girl Brittany Palmer. Not sure if this includes PBP announcer Todd Harris.
  • The number of pay-per-view events won’t increase, but featherweight and bantamweight title fights will be reserved for UFC pay-per-views. Any additional shows are expected to be free.
  • The UFC cage size will remain the same, meaning WEC fighters will have to adjust to a larger cage as theirs was smaller.
  • No women’s division anytime soon.

Great news all around if you ask me. Props to Mike Chiappetta, Luke Thomas, MMA Fighting and the UFC for the conference call notes.

Update 2: The fighters seem to be ecstatic over the news. Here’s a few reactions via Cagewriter and Heavy.com.

Ben Henderson:

“I’m very excited. Now the major goal is to go over there wearing a belt,” Henderson said. “To be the best and make that claim, you’ve gotta beat the best. I want to take that one step further and beat not only the best, but everyone so there’s no doubt.”

Scott Jorgensen:

“I think I’m going to be a UFC champion come January 1! I didn’t even know what happened, I was asleep. I had a missed call from my manager and a text from you,” Jorgensen told Cagewriter. He also said that he is looking forward to being exposed to a whole new audience, who will love his style of fighting.

“I don’t put on dull fights,” Jorgensen said. “The fact that we’re on the UFC stage means that I get to show more people how exciting and how tough I really am. Every UFC fan that wasn’t a WEC fan will become my fan now.”

Anthony Njokuani:

“Oh, hell yeah. I’m ecstatic,” he told Cagewriter. “There’s nobody. Whoever I go up against, I’m just using that person to show the world what I’ve got.”

Urijah Faber:

“It feels awesome, man. I’m really stoked,” Faber told Heavy. “I’ve always wanted this to happen because it felt like I was carrying the brunt of the weight for the WEC. So now there are new benefits and opportunities.”

“When I first started in this sport seven years ago, I wanted to be a UFC champion. Now I have that chance. I can’t wait,” he said.

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