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Fox Sports: "Zach Arnold's Fight Opinion site is one of the best spots on the Web for thought-provoking MMA pieces."

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UFC President Dana White says the WEC/UFC merger is effective ‘immediately’

By Zach Arnold | October 28, 2010

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From MMAFighting.com. Transcript available in full-page mode.

ARIEL HELWANI: “I want to take you back to July. That’s when I first heard a rumor that WEC was merging with the UFC and since then, I gathered a lot of information. Now I confidently present it to you and ask you the question: Is WEC merging with the UFC?”

DANA WHITE: “Yes.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “When?”

DANA WHITE: “The last fight for the WEC will be in December. Then, every fight from there on out, the 55 pound division will roll into our 55 pound division and we will add all those lower weight classes.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Now, people have obviously been bugging you about this for quite some time. Why now?”

DANA WHITE: “The timing was right. The reality is, you know, we purchased the WEC, we started these, you know, getting these lighter weight guys exposure on television, you know, sending them around the country and arenas. Now, as the UFC continues to grow globally and we’re doing more and more fights, now it makes sense to bring in those lighter weight classes.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Was this always the plan from the beginning? Just sort of build that brand, build those fighters, those weight classes, and then eventually merge them together with the UFC?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah. It all depended, you know. We, uh… we put the WEC out there, we knew that we could get, you know, we knew the fights were exciting, these lighter weight guys were great, get out there, build them some exposure while we were putting together The Global Plan because you never know how fast that thing’s going to go or how it’s going to work but it’s worked out incredibly. You know, we’re going to add more fights every year and add more countries and more television. Uh, networks in different countries, so now it makes sense.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Now there are two WEC events left on the calendar. On Versus, there’s one coming up in November, there’s one coming up in December. Any hesitation on your part to confirm this now before those two events are done just so that they don’t seem like, you know, lame duck events, you know what I’m saying? Like when a coach gets, you know, when someone says to a coach, OK, you’re about to get fired at the end of the season, that kind of thing?”

DANA WHITE: “But nobody’s getting fired. There’s nothing lame-duck about it. I mean, the great thing about the WEC and what people have loved about it is, tell me the last time you saw a boring WEC event from top-to-bottom. These lighter weight guys go after it and, you know, I actually think it’s cool that you’ll have the opportunity to see two more WEC events before they roll into the UFC.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “So have you started to think, I mean obviously people are wanting to see, you know, Urijah Faber in the UFC, Jose Aldo, all those guys. Have you started to think about, you know, how you’re going to introduce them to the UFC audience?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah. I think that, you know, I think the people that watch it on Versus are the UFC audience anyway. I mean you’re a fan of Mixed Martial Arts and, um… you know, once they come into the UFC, they’re just going to be part of the whole machine. The way that we promote fights and do it now, they’re just part of the whole deal.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Sort of along those lines, there was a rumor that Jose Aldo was offered a fight against Kenny Florian and that got people to think that maybe this was happening sooner rather than later. A, was that in fact true? And was that your plan in terms of introducing him to the 155 pound weight class in UFC?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah. The answer is yes to both. Yeah, you know, we already knew this was going to happen and, you know, we’ve been working on it for a while and… he had talked about going to 155 pounds and Kenny Florian would have been a great test to see if he was ready for that title.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “So who turned down the fight?”

DANA WHITE: “Jose Aldo did.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Are you surprised by that?”

DANA WHITE: “Um, yeah, I thought that he wanted to fight at 55. If he doesn’t, that’s fine, but you know, we heard he did and so we offered it to him.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “But now that 135 and 145 are coming to the UFC, doesn’t it sort of make sense to keep him there at 145 so he can be sort of the poster boy, the dominant champion at that weight class?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Depends on what he wants, you know, if he wants a few more fights there and then maybe try to move up to 55, it’s all up to him. I don’t ever try to tell guys, it’s like at the last press conference with Diego Sanchez thing, I think Diego Sanchez in shape looks awesome at 170 pounds. Better than 155, so. I say that that’s how I feel but at the end of the day he needs to make his own decision.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Any idea when we still start to see 135 and 145 pound bouts in the UFC?”

DANA WHITE: “Immediately. I mean, these guys are going to roll right into the UFC now, starting in January. So…”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Is it possible that maybe you know you need an extra fight on the December card or something that we might see it before January?”

DANA WHITE: “Uh, probably not. No, probably it’ll happen in January, it’ll be the first one. But who knows, I never say never, anything can happen.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Obviously people want to see Aldo. Any idea when he debut in the UFC?”

DANA WHITE: “Probably, probably in January.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “You think he will defend the title, which I presume will now be the UFC Featherweight title?”

DANA WHITE: “Yes.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Against who?”

DANA WHITE: “I don’t know, yet.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Some people were talking about Mark Hominick. All that stuff, a little premature, right?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “OK. Let me ask you in terms of TV, um… obviously UFC is on Versus now, but also WEC is on Versus. What does it mean to have the WEC guys going into the UFC for your relationship with Versus?”

DANA WHITE: “We kicked this thing off. We did two UFC fights on Versus and now we’re going to do a deal with them for four fights in 2011.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “So there will be four fights on Versus that are UFC obviously fights. What about Spike? Same deal?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah, we’ll, you know, like you said, we have the deal with Versus right now and we have our deal with Spike, so it’s all good.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “And, just curious, obviously you used to put on more than four events on Versus in the past, WEC and UFC combined. What about those extra events that are just kind of up in the air. Is it just, you know, because you’re now giving them the four main UFC cards, it just kind of evens out?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah, in our Spike deal we can do four other fights. So, we’re doing as many as we can on another network.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Any idea when the first UFC on Versus officially we know with the guys coming in will be on Versus?”

DANA WHITE: “I don’t, yet.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “OK. Would the thinking be to put those guys on those cards, you know, the guys who have made a name for themselves on the Versus cards, to keep them fighting on those Versus telecasts?”

DANA WHITE: “Uh, no. We’re going to put UFC fights. These guys are UFC fighters. Once this thing rolls in, they’re UFC fighters. They’ll be fighting everywhere. On Spike, Versus, and PPV, and everywhere.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “And what does this mean in terms of your staff? You know, we know that there are people who work for WEC only. What does it mean for them?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah, they’re going to roll into the UFC now, too. Listen, this thing isn’t getting smaller. It’s getting bigger. You know, we need the staff.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Was there a reason why you did it now in terms of you’re putting on so many events, you need more title holders and things like that or is it just the timing with the TV deals and whatnot?”

DANA WHITE: “No, no, it’s, we’re at that point now where we’re doing more fights in more places and we need more guys. I’ve been waiting for this day! You know, this is actually a great thing for Mixed Martial Arts and I can’t wait until we add more weight classes now.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Good point because 125 is one that people have been talking about for a long time. Is that ever going to happen?”

DANA WHITE: “Yeah, it’s absolutely, positively going to be happen and, you know, this merger happening is great for everybody. it’s great for the sport, it’s great for the lighter weight guys, um… and, uh, it’s great for the guys who don’t have a place to fight right now.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Speaking of TV situations, you recently talked to Broadcasting & Cable and they were asking a bunch of questions about TV deals and whatnot. Since we’re breaking news here, anything else you want to break?”

DANA WHITE: “No, I think they pretty much asked me everything. You know, listen… The guy asked a lot of great questions and… that I really can’t answer right now, so I did my best.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, WEC, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

One Response to “UFC President Dana White says the WEC/UFC merger is effective ‘immediately’”

  1. Robert Poole says:

    My takeaway from this is mostly that I am happy that White at least publically is stating that the fighters and moreso the staffers who probably make significantly less, are all going to keep their jobs. Merging companies can be a rough deal. My work’s parent company bought a competitor and rolled them into our company and we had to lay off over 70% of their staff and close down one entire location in North Carolina. That’s rough, especially with the job market being as difficult as it is, to have to put people out of work.

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