If you are part of the MMA industry on any level then you know that there are a lot of talented fighters. So many of them have seen the lime-light on PPV cards, yet they sit on a bench waiting to be called into the octagon once again. Many organizations have offered the growing talent pool a larger platform to showcase the sport of MMA like Affliction, The IFL League, Pride, WEC, Bodog, Strikeforce and Elite XC. Few of these remain independently standing. Yes, there are several small operations that are regional and they boost fight careers and records for local fighters, which is really the only chance a fighter has to make it to a big show.
The World Extreme Cagefighting was formed in 2001 and in 2006 they were bought by Zuffa, Inc. They focus on the lighter weight classes including:
Lightweight 145lb to 155lbs
Welterweight 155 to 170 lbs
Middleweight 170 to 185 lb
WEC as an organization has played a critical role in properly representing the sport of mixed martial arts. Without them, Jose Aldo, Urijah Faber, Rob McCullough, Gilbert Melendez, Dominick Cruz and Ben Henderson would be some of the most talented, yet unknown fighters in the world. Other than the UFC (which is WEC), WEC has been the only surviving American organization that receives tremendous attention from the media while growing a large MMA fan base through its broadcasts. The broadcast of the WEC events in the US is on Versus, on Steanta Sports in Australia, Sportv in Brazil and The Score in Canada.
So as the UFC merges with the WEC in the New Year, fewer MMA fighters that perfectly represent the sport of MMA between 125 pounds and 155 pounds will be seen; since they will be sitting on a shelf . Although the UFC will still provide us with 4 events on Versus, which is allowed per their SPIKE contract, I do not think as many smaller weight class bouts will been seen overall in the course of a year. For the stars like Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo, they will have better careers because they will probably be bumped to UFC cards on PPV (Jose Aldo most likely in Jan 2011). The problem with this, is that I want to see the rising stars too. The four UFC events that will take over the WEC viewers is not enough when the stable of fighters already on the UFC shelf is twice as long. Although Dana White has the timing right for Zuffa to make this move as their marketplaces expand, I am worried about the future of the little guys.