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UFC absorbs WEC divisions, announces deal with Versus

PRESS RELEASE / Las Vegas, NV (USA) – In a media conference call today, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White announced the UFC is adding two new championship divisions at bantamweight and featherweight, while also announcing a new television deal with the VERSUS Network to air four UFC fights in 2011.

“As the UFC continues to evolve and grow globally, we want to be able to give fans title fights in every weight division,” said White. “This is a big day for the sport and the athletes who will have the opportunity to fight on the biggest stage in the world.”

The two new divisions feature WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who will now be recognized as the reigning UFC featherweight champion, and WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. White confirmed that the winner of the Dec. 16 lightweight title fight between WEC champion Ben Henderson and top contender Anthony Pettis live on VERSUS will take on the winner of the UFC 125 main event title bout between champion Frank Edgar and Gray Maynard. This upcoming fight will serve as a UFC lightweight title unification bout to be held next year.

White also stated the UFC is expanding its presence on the VERSUS Network in 2011, and will increase its number of UFC events from two to four per year. Versus is scheduled to air the two remaining live WEC events in 2010 on November 11th and December 16th. The 11/11 event in Las Vegas will feature “The California Kid” Urijah Faber’s debut at bantamweight as he takes on Takeya Mizugaki, while the December event in Glendale, Ariz. will feature Henderson-Pettis and a bantamweight title clash between Dominick Cruz and challenger Scott Jorgensen with the winner becoming the new UFC bantamweight champion.

“We have a great relationship with the VERSUS network, and we look forward to working with them to give UFC fans even more free fights in 2011,” said White.

16 COMMENTS
  • hindsightufuk says:

    i kinda got mixed emotions on this, i’m excited but sad as well
    WEC is always guarenteed to be entertaining, guarenteed. where as so many UFC ppv’s have been sub par this year. so i guess the wee guys will make the UFC events better, hopefully i never again have to watch most of the shite that was fed to us at UFC 120. howver i just feel now we are going to see less of the fights. probably only one or two of each WEC card would get on a UFC ppv, and it sounds like a lot of the lower weight classes will be on versus/spike ie short shows with no prelims shown. i just hope Zuffa give these guys the props they deserve and start to put them on instead of trying to showcase these fucking chumps who fail to impress, or even win on TUF, but give them air time cos people know them from acting like cunts on the telly
    so many WEC fights are mentioned in FOTY conversations for good reason. and i’m willing to bet Henderson/Pettis and Cruz/Jorgensen will be added to that list soon enough

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  • MCM says:

    YEAH!!

    read about this on another site. Aldo will be fighting at UFC 125.

    I think it’s really good timing for Zuffa now that they have several established “stars” in the smaller weight classes. It’s also gonna help them get that footing into Japan that they’ve wanted for so long. With Dream not paying most of their guys and the UFC now having weight classes they can be competitive at, I see a lot more Japanese fighters making it to and be successful in the UFC.

    Plus we’ll get to see Jose Aldo really test himself now.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  • twyg says:

    I will take my props for being the first to talk about this on the link club thread. The ufc now has every mens weight division in mma. These guys will get more publicity, and the pay should increase. This in turn will lure the best talent away from other promotions. If they ever decide to add a 125 weight class they will complete their domination of the sport. Four versus cards a year, fight nights on spike, TUF ( the next coaches should be faber and torres), and the numer events. The time is coming when the letters UFC and MMA will be one and the same.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  • MickeyC says:

    Holy Crap! We are gona see some good fights at 155! The Cowboy & Kenny, Maynard and Henderson! Im sure depending on his fight with Maynard we may see Edgar drop to 145. We may see him and Faber fight in the future. Tons of good match ups! Good Stuff!

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • Lethal Liquid says:

    Cards should fill out nicely now. Although you have to figure that means more shows. So that doesn’t mean the end of crappy cards per se. I do love the fact these guys pay will go up. Their exposure to the masses will only help Ufc with their star problem.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • sides666 says:

    I am very happy that they finaly made this happen. The only thing that makes me leary is the fact that you can only fit so many fights on one card we may miss out on a lot of good fights from both promotions,hopefully they take that into consideration and increase the running time of their shows. Hopefully they are not planning on holding twice as many ppv because that can start getting pricey at 60 bucks a show. Once a month i can handle twice i am not so sure about.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • sides666 says:

    I also really like the fact that alot of guys will not be as hesitant to drop down in weight classes i think we will see alot of the smaller 155ers drop down to try to pose problems for mr aldo i am looking forward to the prospects

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    ’bout f#cking time!.
    Now if we could just get WVR, Dream, SF and Bellator to merge with the UFC.

    P.S. Oh and M1. LOL.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  • Creature says:

    holyyy shittt.. words cannot describe how pumped i am about this :) aldo vs frank edgar, henderson vs tyson griffin, kenflo, maynard, or dunham.. fabor/edgar.. wow the cowboy vs evan dunham would be sickkkk.. fight of the year i think :D

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  • qat says:

    so twyg, you wanna get props for reading it somewhere else and posting it in a comment under another news? well, congratulations, you are truly awesome!

    besides that, im really excited about that. as non-American it was often tough to get hands on the wec-events. that wont be a problem anymore in 2011.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  • gy614x says:

    Im shaking at the though of Henderson vs. Edgar, or Henderson vs. Maynard, that would be awesome. This also means there will either be more PPVs per year, or more title fights per card!

    Oh man this is awesome

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Angry Mike says:

    Zuffa didn’t have to collapse WEC to have their fighters match up with their counterparts in UFC. Shutting down WEC just means that some of the fighters will lose their contracts. UFC won’t keep its entire roster and also WEC’s where their weight classes overlap. More orgs and more competition, please!

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  • mma.Australia says:

    Unifying MMA, i.e. the UFC IS MMA, is not a bad thing.

    So we’ll either get longer, or more cards.

    The not-yet-there or passed-it fighters will fight in Division 2, ie Strikeforce, Bellator, no problems.

    The more these things happen, the more ridiculous the boxing champion of WBEFGA debale becomes

    Great news. Closer to a global sport and less entertainment like bloody WWE the better

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Angry Mike says:

    Zuffa owns WEC and UFC, so they’re already unified. If WEC is absorbed by UFC, some of the fighters on their rosters will be dropped. How many WEC fighters made it to the UFC middle weight division? Some of the WEC welterweights and lightweights will be dropped, too.

    From a purely economic standpoint, unification under the UFC isn’t good for the fighters, the sport or the fans. Look what happened in professional baseball until free agency. Ownership called all the shots, and the players had little control over their own careers. Once any business has a monopoly, and there’s no competition, it can set prices, too. Not good.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • Dufresne says:

    I’m excited about this because we finally get to see the top contenders in the WEC’s lightweight division go at it with the UFC’s lightweight division. I’m also happy because having the UFC brand attached will bring the 135 and 145 guys more attention and, hopefully, more money as well.

    The only problem I have with it is what Angry Mike has pointed out. When Zuffa bought WEC and started abolishing/merging in the WEC’s HW, LHW, MW, and WW divisions, how many fighters made the jump?
    Heck, if I remember correctly, when they “merged” those divisions there wash a huge string of layoffs from the UFC as well.
    Obviously there won’t be near as many fighters being cut this time through since there is only one weightclass that overlaps, but I still hate it when a fighter gets cut purely due to business reasons instead of due to a lack of performance.

    As for how this compares to the other major sports in the US and how their athletes are compensated… I’m not sure we can make that call yet.
    It’s true that free agency in baseball was a godsend to the players, but I personally think the thing that really got the players fair compensation (and in some cases ridiculously over-compensated) was the Players Union.
    As far as I know the only big name competitions in the USA that don’t have a major athletes’ union are NASCAR, MMA, and boxing. And in all three I’ve seen cases where an athlete got hosed because of it.
    As much as I’d love to see every fighter able to fight any other fighter in the world, whether that’s through co-promotion or by having them all under one brand, I really think the next step necessary in the evolution of MMA is some sort of union. With an international union the new talent fighters would have access to fairer contracts because they would have real lawyers helping make deals instead of the owner of their local karate gym, fighters would have more say in how often they fought, and some sort of legitimate pay scale could be worked out.

    The only real problem I see with an MMA union when compared to the major sports that have one is the fact that in all of those sports the athletes are part of an organization inside the sport. Players are a part of a team which has managers and owners and in most cases are designed and run as a business in and of themselves. They pay top dollar for the top athletes because it helps them win and brings in more money. If a pitcher doesn’t like your offer, there’s probably another team that will give them something closer to what they want. In MMA the fighters are individuals. If one organization doesn’t offer them a contract that they think is fair, they only have a few other “big name” organizations to look to as opposed to having 20+ options.

    Obviously the way MMA is set up makes simply adapting a union styled after the one in the NBA, NFL, or MLB impossible, but I’m sure there are greater minds than mine that can figure out how to pull it off.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  • Dufresne says:

    And again the caffeine turned my comment into a small novel….

    Stupid adhd…

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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