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Are there any negatives to the WEC-UFC merger?

By Zach Arnold | October 29, 2010

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From the crew at Cagewriter/Yahoo Sports, a discussion about some of the potential drawbacks to this merger taking place.

STEVE COFIELD: “It was not the network TV deal that was… I think speculated on more than fact-checked. It was a merge between the WEC and the UFC and it looks like a huge positive. You’ve now got a chance to get all these WEC stars who I think have been a little under-covered now get the full attention from the casual MMA fan.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Steve, I think overall very good news for the industry, for the fighters, for fans. I think overall good news. You know, there are some negatives to it. I mean, the good thing is now you’re going to take these top WEC fighters and put ’em on UFC PPV cards and they’re going to make those cards that much stronger. You think back to say, UFC 119, where a lot of fans were complaining about, you know, there wasn’t much there beyond the main event of Frank Mir and Mirko Cro Cop. You know, if you could have put, you know, a Jose Aldo or a Urijah Faber in a good fight on that undercard, you know people have less to complain. I think that’s going to, you know, be fixed. The fact that there are going to be more title fights, on the conference call one of the reporters said, well, yeah, there’s going to be a title fight on every card now. I mean, that’s ridiculous, that’s not going to happen. But there are going to be, you know, there’s two more championships now. There are going to be more championship fights, so I think that we’ll see more championship fights on the PPV cards. People seem to like that. And guys are going to be fighting for their jobs, especially in the Lightweight division. You know you’re going to merge the WEC Lightweights who weren’t as good overall top-to-bottom as the UFC and those guys now as they come into the UFC, they know they can’t afford a slip so they’re really going to fight. So I think, you know, that’s going to create a positive. The negative, of course, is you know we’re going to have people losing their jobs. Some of these fighters are just not going to be in the UFC or WEC any more. There’s not as big of a margin.

“The other thing I don’t think maybe a lot of people are thinking of that could end up being a problem is developing young talent because if we have so many fight cards and only so many spots to put these fighters, then I think it’s going to be incumbent upon the matchmakers, you know, to get rid of guys if they lose a fight whereas, you know, in the past, you know, both Sean Shelby with the WEC and Joe Silva with the UFC, they had a little bit of flexibility. If somebody lost that they liked and they thought, you know, had potential and could give them a second or a third fight, doesn’t happen too often but, you know, they did have that flexibility with people they like but, you know, they’re going to lose that to a certain degree now. You know if you’re a young fighter, you know, the UFC is going to be a pretty harsh place to be and, you know, it’s going to be tough on the matchmakers to develop fighters. That may be one of the down sides.”

STEVE COFIELD: “You know, I think what looks like a net loss now in terms of, you know, free fights and areas to develop guys in Zuffa eventually 6 or 8 months from now could turn back into a gain because I still feel like with the Spike deal up and the aggressive nature they’re approaching of the worldwide scene that I think by the second half of 2011 they’re going to wind up having more shows and you’re going to have more opportunities out there but, you’re right, for the next 6-to-8 months it is going to be an uncertain time especially on these upcoming WEC cards, I’ll tell ya what — next two cards you are fighting for your life to get in because if you don’t win and you’re not on the televised portion, there’s a good chance you ain’t coming over.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Probably won’t be a UFC fighter, yeah, no doubt. You know if they have a net loss of 5, you know, maybe 6 if you want to look at it that way, Steve, because there were 7 WEC fights on Versus this year and 2 UFC fights and when I say 7 that’s counting November and December coming up, so that would make 9 fights and then, of course, WEC 48 was a PPV and that was their first PPV, historically that had been a WEC fight on Versus. So depending on how you want to look at it, annually there were 8 or 9 shows that we’re looking at. You know, now you’re talking going back to 4 with the UFC shows on Versus so that’s a net loss of five or six, you know that’s going to be tough, you know, and it’s going to hurt the fans, it’s going to hurt some of these fighters. But I agree with you, I think at some point the UFC will come up with another deal and another vehicle to get some of these fights on TV. You know, Dana’s always working the angles and he’s been out looking and beating the streets, you know, for some other deals. The Spike deal being up, I mean I think you could see something come about where, you know, maybe they end up on NBC, maybe they end up on Fox, you know, maybe even on some kind of Disney combination.”

STEVE COFIELD: “I think The Ultimate Fighter angle is kind of interesting now. They’re going to hold tryouts within the next couple of weeks for the next season. I would love them to change their mind a little bit, bump up what they’re going to do. I think that the natural match for the first thing you come out with is a Miguel Torres-Urijah Faber season.”

KEVIN IOLE: “I mean that would certainly be really good and both of them have great personalities, so they would be tremendous coaches on the show. I think that would really, really be good. And, you know, one of the problems, you know, that they would have with that is that the coaches themselves maybe aren’t as well-known to the massive audience that, you know, the UFC fighters are, you know, so maybe they do that with the second one but I agree with you, I mean I think that, you know, it would be very good television because Urijah and Miguel both have good personalities, you know they’re both really talented guys with something to prove. You know they both were champions, lost their belts, you know, kind of on the comeback trail right now. They happen both to be fighting at 135. I think that would be a terrific way to go. I also think, you know, maybe now with these extra fighters that they may come up with some other, you know, in addition to just The Ultimate Fighter everybody wants to say, well The Ultimate Fighter Canada, the Ultimate Fighter Mexico, maybe they’ll come up with a different concept that they can do but still incorporate fights onto another, you know, TV organization so, you know, I think this [is worth] watching.”

STEVE COFIELD: “And the reason I mention those two guys, I think that division is the biggest winner out of all of them. I think it’s a great division, 135 pound division. They automatically as they move over to UFC have five guys basically that are all in the same area who I think are just going to kind of round-robin against each other unless they get locked up in a reality show but between the champ (Dominick) Cruz, (Joseph) Benavidez, Torres, Faber, and don’t forget about Brian Bowles, too.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Yeah, no, I mean Brian Bowles has been injured but when he comes back I certainly think, you know, he’s a legitimate guy in there. He knocked out Miguel Torres, so, you know, you knock Miguel Torres and you’re telling me that you’re a good fighter, I agree with you. I think there’s a lot of good fights to be made, you know, in that weight class. You know, I think as they introduce these guys, you know, I think you’re going to see Faber and Torres be, you know, kind of at the head of the pack just because they are among the most well-known but they’re going to bring the other fighters with them.”

STEVE COFIELD: “And most important point we have to address, since the press conference we did get confirmation that the key person in this whole deal who will be retained is, she’s not an Octagon girl, I guess she’s a cage girl, Brittney Palmer will be coming over.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Yeah, Brittney Palmer! I couldn’t believe it on Twitter I’m getting more questions about ‘is Brittney Palmer going to go over to the UFC?’ than I am about the implications of the fights but we have confirmed for anybody who was worried, Brittney will be with the UFC so she’s going to be an Octagon girl, I’m assuming at UFC 122. Haven’t confirmed that but look for her pretty soon.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, WEC, Zach Arnold | 15 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

15 Responses to “Are there any negatives to the WEC-UFC merger?”

  1. robthom says:

    I dont see any drawback unless the UFC makes it into one.

    The WEC was basically a competing and simultaneously failing brand.

    How does that make any good sense?

    This is a opportunity to remake the few assets the WEC had into a few more advantageous assets for the bread and butter brand.

    I seem to recall that the last British UFC card was a turd.

    This is an opportunity to help that to have to happen again.

    BTW: I sure do appreciate you transcribing these things for us Zach. But you really can leave out the “you know”‘s. Its like transcribing a burp or a sigh.
    It doesn’t take away from or add to the content.
    It only makes it a little more difficult to read.


  2. 45 Huddle says:

    So a 6 card difference….

    We are going to see the Lightweight Division go on the chopping block. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of loser leaves the UFC fights coming up. To the effect that they are likely to cut the number of fighters that were in the WEC Lightweight Division. Those cut fighters probably are 2 cards worth of fights. So now the difference is 4. They could increase the number of cards or just put 1 extra fight on the current cards and everything would be a wash.

    It’s not going to become a huge deal once they get rid of some of their lesser talent. They have some extra fat that can easily be cut.

    And if they increase their number of cards, I would like to see them increase the sizes of their smaller weight divisions. Some of that will happen organically. I wouldn’t be shocked if over the next 6 months we see 5 to 10 UFC Lightweights ask to be put at Featherweight.

  3. The negative for fans is less free MMA shows in the short term. That’s it. Who the hell cares if they cut a ton of subpar lightweights? OMG GUYZ, ED RADCLIFF MIGHT HAVE TO GO FIGHT IN NIGHTCLUBS AGAIN.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Ed Radcliff is UFC material…. oh wait, no he’s not.

      I just can’t wait to see what the Featherweight Division looks like by the end of 2011. Whatever the rankings look like right now are pointless. It’s going to be drastically different. Manny Gamburyan and Leonard Garcia couldn’t cut it at Lightweight and were forced to move down in weight and lose exposure just to be able to be relevent. And both of them were able to crack the Top 10 with relative ease.

      Imagine what happens now when guys who were either moderately successful or successful at Lightweight start dropping down. It will be an entirely new division.

      Urijah Faber is dropping down to Bantamweight at the right time. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Jose Aldo make the move as well within the next 2 years. At least Faber will have a small window of opportunity to shine before Aldo beats him again…

      • Jose Aldo is going to get beat up BADLY in the next calendar year, or he’s gonna start losing a lot of his muscle mass and appear as a 135lb fighter. No way he goes to 155 and no way he beats a new murderers row of opposition with fighters like Clay Guida, Tyson Griffin, etc. Its gonna be a shock for some. May even call into question how good the WEC ever was at its “peak”.

        • Jonathan says:

          I wonder if that is going to happen. If WEC fighters start losing en masse to “regular” UFC talent, is that going to take some of the tarnish off of the “elite” WEC fighters?

          I do not think that it will factor too long though because as soon as people start seeing exciting fights at the lower weight classes, all will be good.

          However, I would say that the top tier WEC fighters do have alot to lose compared to say, some middle of the road guys in the WEC. The upside for them is so high right now, but if you were considered “elite” in the WEC and then come in and have mediocre performances, you’ll quickly fall down in the pack.

          I am thinking specifically of Miguel Torres here.

          Also, do you guys think that Frankie Edgar will move down to featherweight, and if so, what will happen at 155? Will Penn regain top slot? Will Maynard beat Edgar and claim the title? Will Benson Henderson…*lol* Cannot bring myself to say it.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Dana White confirmed to Jose Aldo was offered or at least in discussions to fight Kenny Florian and turned it down. I kind of laugh when people talk about him moving up to Lightweight. Aldo isn’t a big Featherweight and would get wrecked in the Lightweight Division.

          I don’t know if it tarnishes the WEC’s legacy completely. People still will always think of it as having some of the most exciting fights around. But it will certainly make the WEC belts less meaningful when the hardcore fans can see how the best Featherweights in the world were really just competing as undersized Lightweights due to the money differences.

          As for Frank Edgar….. I think a lot of it depends on how he does on January 1st. If that fight goes anything like their first fight does, I could easily see Maynard pushing Edgar out of the Lightweight Division.

          And BJ Penn…. He is either on the downside of his career or Edgar was just the worst style match-up for him possible. We won’t know the answer to that for another fight or two.

          Let’s also not forget about Bantamweight. If we see an influx of Lightweight fighters moving to Featherweight, that will almost by default for any average to undersized Featherweight to move down to Bantamweight and make that division stronger as well.

        • david m says:

          Alan–I don’t see Aldo losing to a 145 pound Clay Guida or Tyson Griffin; he is athletically so far beyond those guys speed-wise that they aren’t going to be able to do anything with him. Manny Gamburyan and Mike Brown aren’t that different from Guida and Griffin, and they couldn’t do anything except get embarrassed. I think Aldo waxes everyone who can make 145; even Edgar loses to him IMO.

          How many examples are there of guys moving down in weight and becoming champion? Diego moved to 170 after reaching a similar status as Griffin reached at 155, and was embarrassed by BJ Penn to the point that he should have been forcibly retired. Griffin would look like he was moving in slow motion next to Aldo. Guida is not a top-level fighter, be serious.

          Benson Henderson is being underrated; Gray Maynard is the same dude who escaped with a very controversial split decision win over Nate Diaz; let’s not paint him as some unstoppable monster.

        • edub says:

          I agree on a couple points david m, but there are also a few I think can be argued:

          You speak like the Maynard-Diaz fight was super close. In reality it wasn’t. Maynard fought pretty much a perfect fight, and hit Diaz all night keeping the fight exactly where he wanted. I went to the event and I thought the decision could go either way. When I got home and watched the replay on TV I thought Maynard won every round.

          I agree on pretty much all your other points.

        • When Aldo goes from fighting lousy lightweights to fighting top notch lightweights who were capable of making the drop in weight, the differences will be striking. Honestly, if you look back at the fight with Aldo and Manny Gamburyan, there is little difference in hand speed. Technique and size, yes, but in terms of how fast either can could move the hands? It just wasn’t there. If he goes in there and fights someone much more athletic, skilled, and experienced like Tyson Griffin or Clay Guida, he’s gonna be smashed. Mark my words if you’d like.

        • And Ben Henderson is terribly overrated. Any time someone is on TV and wins a lot, people think they’re great, regardless of who they’re fighting. Unlike the Strikeforce and DREAM guys who are ranked based on a variety historical rankings and placement in the lightweight division going back to the days of PRIDE, the WEC guys haven’t ranked anywhere. They were put there because they weren’t good enough to be in the UFC. I personally don’t care to pay money to see Henderson fight Gray Maynard and lose, but if you do, have at it. Just don’t ask me to pretend that its something that it isn’t. I’m not in the business of apologizing for promoters for crappy fights like some.

    • robthom says:

      “…less free MMA shows in the short term.”

      Good lord please!

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Aldo vs. Grispi is now being rumored for UFC 125.

  5. Zack says:

    You know!


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