After UFC president Dana White announced they would absorb the WEC to formulate one powerhouse promotion, most immediately started to think how the monumental move would benefit them. While there are plenty of peeps sitting pretty after Thursday’s news, 5thRound has compiled a Top 5 list of the merger’s biggest winners.
Zuffa, LLC – Although they terminated one of their business units to create one behemoth of an MMA banner, they have also eliminated confusion among their ever-growing fan base. Not having to explain to rookie Octagon fans that ‘the WEC is pretty much the UFC, but not really,’ should do wonders in creating greater brand recognition.
It wasn’t a coincidence that a WEC logo wasn’t spotted anywhere in their only pay-per-view broadcast. The card was actually entitled, “UFC Presents: Aldo vs. Faber.”
Furthermore, despite not adding any fighters to their total talent pool, the merger has many feeling Zuffa’s stranglehold on the sport has increased drastically with the move.
WEC Fighters, Specifically Lightweight Elite – White acknowledged during yesterday’s conference call that WEC athletes should be getting pay raises now that they have “made it” to the big leagues. The gravy train doesn’t stop there, as fighters appearing in UFC shows – particularly on the televised portion – receive much larger sponsorship dollars than when competing for other organizations.
In addition to these perks, those sitting atop the WEC’s 155-pound food chain have shortened their UFC title path. Reigning champ Ben Henderson or WEC 53 challenger Anthony Pettis will leapfrog numerous UFC lightweights after White promised the winner would advance to unify the UFC title with the victor of the UFC 125 fight between champ Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.
It’s highly unlikely either Henderson or Pettis would have immediately been fed to the king in their UFC debut if this alliance wouldn’t have occurred.
Versus Network – Although White claimed Versus was happy with the ratings past WEC events garnered, replacing them with UFC promotions will inflate their Nielsen ratings significantly. Despite losing out on a handful of WEC shows in exchange for only four UFC events, Versus brass couldn’t be happier as it appears they are strengthening their relationship with the UFC, while Spike TV – the Ultimate Fighting Championships original freebie home – has been treading water.
Brittney Palmer – The former WEC ring girl will now be towing her numbered cards around with Arianny Celeste. Rachelle Leah, the UFC’s OG Queen Bee, posed nude in the November 2009 issue Playboy and the reigning princess is in the November 2010 edition.
Can Palmer bump Chandella Powell to become the company’s #2 hottie, then parlay that onto the pages of Playboy next November to complete the trifecta? The opportunity is certainly there.
MMA Fans – Now that all of the world’s best fighters are under the same banner – less a handful of Strikeforce and overseas talent – enthusiasts can expect to consistently see action-packed fight cards from top to bottom. The days of complaining over insignificant preliminary bouts should be long gone with the talent they now have access to.