As was first reported by MMA Fighting, the UFC and the WEC will merge in January 2011. The WEC will have its two scheduled events, Urijah Faber vs. Takeya Mizugaki in Las Vegas on Nov. 11 and Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis in Arizona on Dec. 16. After that, the fighters will be rolled into the UFC.
Henderson, the WEC lightweight champion, texted with Cagewriter after the news broke. He gave a simple reaction: :-). He couldn't be happier about the news that not only will the UFC and WEC merge, but that the winner of his bout with Pettis will fight the winner of Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar for the UFC lightweight belt.
"I'm very excited. Now the major goal is to go over there wearing a belt," Henderson said. "To be the best and make that claim, you've gotta beat the best. I want to take that one step further and beat not only the best, but everyone so there's no doubt."
His opponent on Dec. 16, Anthony Pettis, is just as excited about the merger.
"When I heard about it, I was finishing up my morning training session, and I wanted to go right back to the gym and train," Pettis told Cagewriter. "My fight with Ben was big enough, and now I'm two fights away from being the UFC champion. It's two championships in two fights."
He said he will always be grateful for his beginnings with the WEC.
"I look at it like college, and now I'm going to the NBA, and it just so happens that I'm the first-round draft pick. The UFC is where I want to be."
Henderson and Pettis both said they had no idea that the merger was coming, which was echoed by other fighters. Cagewriter broke the news to bantamweight Scott Jorgensen, who will fight Dominick Cruz for the title in December, and lightweight Anthony Njokuani, who will battle Edward Faaloloto in November.
"I think I'm going to be a UFC champion come January 1! I didn't even know what happened, I was asleep. I had a missed call from my manager and a text from you," Jorgensen told Cagewriter. He also said that he is looking forward to being exposed to a whole new audience, who will love his style of fighting.
"I don't put on dull fights," Jorgensen said. "The fact that we're on the UFC stage means that I get to show more people how exciting and how tough I really am. Every UFC fan that wasn't a WEC fan will become my fan now."
Njokuani didn't have any specific UFC fighter that he wanted to call out. He was just happy about the news.
"Oh, hell yeah. I'm ecstatic," he told Cagewriter. "There's nobody. Whoever I go up against, I'm just using that person to show the world what I've got."