UFC and WEC set to merge in 2011. Events to air on Versus and Spike TV
The Ultimate Fighting Championship plans to merge with World Extreme Cagefighting in January 2011. UFC president Dana White confirmed the news earlier today with MMAFighting.com, and a formal announcement is scheduled this afternoon. The merger's primary intent is to fold the WEC's bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight divisions into the UFC. "The timing was right," White said. "The reality is we purchased the WEC, (and) we started getting these lighter-weight guys exposure on television. ... Now, as the UFC continues to grow globally, and we're doing more and more fights, now we're bringing in those lighter weightclasses." WEC 52 and WEC 53, scheduled for Nov. 11 and Dec. 16, respectively, will be the final events under the existing promotion. In January, the lighter-weighted promotion will cede its talent to the UFC. White said the WEC's featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, will become the UFC featherweight champion when he first fights inside the octagon in January. Current WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz defends his title against top contender Dominick Cruz at WEC 53. The WEC's lightweight championship will also be on the line at WEC 53 as current champ Ben Henderson takes on Anthony Pettis. It's currently unclear what will become of the WEC's lightweight title, but UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta hinted of a champion vs. champion superfight at the UFC Fan Expo London 2010. "We'd love to see kind of a 'champion vs. champion' type bout with Ben and Frankie Edgar or something like that," Fertitta said. "Ben Henderson is a great fighter, and I think he could do really, really well against some of the top guys in the UFC at 155 (pounds)." Zuffa, LLC, the UFC's parent company, purchased the WEC in 2006. The lighter-weighted promotion quickly found a new television partner, Versus channel, which aired all but a few of its events. WEC 48 also went to pay-per-view and was considered a rousing success. According to White, four UFC events in 2011 will air on Versus, the current home of the WEC. Additionally, the UFC's longtime partnership with Spike TV will also remain in place.