“They made it sound so great that a company went under. The simple fact of the matter was that the WEC failed and they put it with the UFC to carry it… To compare WEC lightweights to Strikeforce and the UFC is not fair because if they were that good, they would have been fighting for the UFC. I think the world of (Jamie) Varner, but I beat Hermes (Franca) and Hermes beat Varner. Varner was the WEC champ for awhile. So, where does that leave us?”
—Strikeforce lightweight contender Josh Thomson, via The Las Vegas Sun, commenting on the UFC-WEC merger
Josh Thomson raises a very interesting question. Was the WEC a failure? I don’t think so, but I suppose it depends on how you look at it. No, it didn’t draw the ratings or attention or pull in the revenue like the UFC or maybe even Strikeforce, but I don’t think that makes it failure. It was a solid little promotion that put on great fights, and in the last few years, very meaningful fights. Not only that, it gave a place for the lighter weight fighters to showcase their skills even if they weren’t making the big bucks like their bigger brothers. I have no idea what the WEC’s financials were like, but I imagine they were squeaking out a tiny profit or at least doing enough to stay afloat. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me the merger was more about Zuffa maximizing their assets than cutting their losses. The WEC has a great run, but in the end, merging it with the UFC not only made business sense, it made practical sense as well.
As for the WEC lightweights, I think Thomson’s probably right, but the good thing is that debate will actually get settled inside the cage.