Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts

Hardcore fight fans know the WEC has a great product and now those fighters will get to show their skills on the big stage at UFC shows. UFC president Dana White announced this afternoon that the WEC is merging with the UFC. The WEC features the 135, 145 and 155 pound weight classes. So greats like Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz, Ben Henderson, Urijah Faber, Joe Benavidez and Miguel Torres will all be branded as UFC fighters.

This is also a big boost for Versus. The WEC's network will air four UFC cards in 2011. That should deliver a huge ratings boost. It appears simply because of the name WEC, the 2010 WEC shows were consistently delivering only a third the audience that similar UFC shows were on Spike. That gap should be closed significantly in 2011.

Here are the key points discussed during today's conference call: 

- The final WEC card is Dec. 16 in Phoenix

- Versus will present four UFC cards in 2011

- The winner of the Ben Henderson-Anthony Pettis fight on Dec. 16 will carry the WEC lightweight belt over to the UFC and get an immediate shot at the winner of UFC champ Frank Edgar versus Gray Maynard. It could be promoted as a unification bout, UFC versus WEC. 

- Jose Aldo is now the UFC featherweight champion and will battle a fighter TBA at UFC 125 on Jan. 1. Rumors have swirled that it's Mark Hominick with Josh Grispi as the alternate.

- Dominick Cruz defends his 135-title against Scott Jorgensen on Dec. 16. Whoever wins is the new UFC bantamweight champ.

- It's likely that all UFC featherweight and bantamweight title fights will now be on pay-per-view

- All employees of the WEC, including GM Reed Harris and matchmaker Sean Shelby, are still part of the Zuffa family. WEC ring girl Brittney Palmer's status is unknown. 

UPDATE: Palmer is coming over the UFC. According to Fighter's Only Magazine, White confirmed that via Twitter. 

- This opens the door for "The Ultimate Fighter" to feature fighters from the 135 and 145 pound weight classes.

- The promotion hasn't discussed future TUF's but this could mean a coaching showdown between Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres

- WEC fighters will have to adjust to a bigger cage. The Octagon is larger than the current WEC cage by five-feet in diameter.

- The reported story that the UFC was going announce a network with deal with Fox or NBC plus the addition of a UFC network was purely speculation (5:26 mark - Part 1 video).

- A 125-pound weight class is on the way but White had no timetable for its arrival. 

Listen here for part three.

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