Top 5 Casualties From UFC and WEC Merger

Written by Tom Ngo
October 31st, 2010

WEC General Manager Reed Harris

Lost in the euphoria of Thursday’s watershed announcement that the UFC would swallow up the WEC was the fact not everyone benefited from the merger. Although the move has many tickled pink, 5thRound has compiled a Top 5 list of the biggest casualties from this week’s news. 

Freebie-Hungry MMA Fans – While president Dana White said the UFC’s new contract with Versus will expand their partnership by airing two live events in 2011 to four, it’s still an overall net loss for freebie fights.

In 2009, Versus hosted eight free WEC events and will close out 2010 with nine shows. “Aldo vs. Faber” this past April was on pay-per-view. That means, fans will be missing out on roughly seven gratis MMA broadcasts per year.

Most UFC Lightweights – The UFC’s 155-pound division was already one of its deepest, but they will now attempt to mesh roughly 20 WEC lightweights into their 50ish pool of fighters. There are bound to be casualties, particularly for those who can’t win or refuse to press the action.

“The way that it works in here is you come in and you keep winning, you stick around. Or if you lose fights, but you’re incredibly exciting you stick around for a while too,” White said of the division being on a shorter leash.

The elite 55ers from both organizations are all good. However, the title path for future contenders is now that much longer, with the pressures of posting thrilling performances at a premium.

All WEC lightweights were stoked about the promotion, so their UFC counterparts likely felt the opposite reaction of now having to protect what was already theirs.

Octagon brass do have access to unprecedented depth and talent, which is a bonus for fans. However, the 155-pound hot seat has never been more heated.

Rival MMA Promotions – Despite not adding any fighters to their total talent pool, and terminating one of their business units to create one behemoth of an MMA banner, the merger has many believing Zuffa LLC’s stranglehold on the sport of mixed martial arts is at an all-time high.

Furthermore, they 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.

Does anyone remember seeing a WEC logo anywhere near the organization’s only pay-per-view event? It wasn’t a coincidence their lone fan-funded show was entitled “UFC Presents: Aldo vs. Faber.”

WEC Executive Reed Harris – Although Harris told MMAJunkie he was thrilled with the merger and excited to announce his new role with the UFC in early 2011, going from being a company’s frontman to the invisible man doesn’t sound like much of an upgrade. While it’s likely Harris will be rewarded with a C-level gig, he won’t be getting the same camera time he did before. As we all know full well, there can only be one Tony Soprano in this family.

Spike TV – 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 has been treading water.

It has been reported the clock is ticking on the UFC’s contract with their longtime partners. TV Math: More cards on Versus means less that could be on Spike = no bueno for the Ultimate Fighting Championships’ original freebie home.

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