Eclipsing most every other story to emerge this week in the MMA world was Thursday’s announcement of the impending UFC-WEC merger. Many have begun speculating on the long term implications of the merger as well as positing intriguing match ups between the two promotion’s best fighters.
Though the MMA community is clearly buzzing with excitement, there not be any fans quite as excited as the WEC’s stars and champions are. SI.com’s Josh Gross spoke with the promotion-on-borrowed-time’s three champions as well as the long-running promotional poster boy Urijah Faber to get their take on the merger.
Dominick Cruz, the champion of the WEC’s lightest division at bantamweight (135-pounds) said of the news that he will soon be a UFC bantamweight champion, “I can’t explain the excitement.”
Perhaps the most buzzed about fighter making his way from the WEC to the UFC is Jose Aldo, who many are already picking to make a run at the UFC lightweight belt; others are predicting which UFC lightweights will drop to his division of featherweight in order to take on the Brazilian dynamo. For his part, Aldo stated simply, “It’s our time now.”
Benson Henderson, the WEC 155-pound champion is looking at defending his WEC belt on the last show under that banner come December. Should he retain his belt he will be taking on the winner of the upcoming UFC lightweight title fight between champ Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. “Smooth” told SI, “The news finally came and it’s awesome.”
Urijah Faber, former WEC featherweight champ and hyper-popular featherweight-turned-bantamweight fighter, has long expressed his interest in moving up to the UFC’s lightweight division (before losing his belt and dropping a weight class) and he told Gross, “this is something I’ve been pushing for a long time.”
The WEC has proven time and again that the immensely talented fighters on its roster bring it every time out and never fail to entertain. Bringing them into the UFC fold not only will give them the hype and exposure they deserve but will also lend a breath of fresh air to the UFC.