Since the summer of 2001, The WEC has been the home to the world's best lighter-weight fighters. Over the past nine plus years, Reed Harris' baby has provided us with some of the most entertaining fights ever witnessed. On October 28th, Dana White announced that the WEC would be merging with the UFC in early 2011—an announcement that would forever change the landscape of MMA. This past Thursday, the organization had its Swan Song and champions walked away with new titles.
This is not a eulogy nor is this a time to mourn. This is a time to reflect on the good times from days gone by and celebrate the life of World Extreme Cage fighting.
Between 2001 and 2006, the organization held the majority of its events in Lemoore, California with most being broadcast on Mark Cuban's HDNet. Over the course of five years Reed and company built quite an impressive fight league. So much so, that they gained the attention of the UFC and parent company Zuffa.
Much like Vince McMahon did over the past decade, Dana White and the Fertitas bought out their competition. The glaring difference is that Zuffa didn't immediately absorb the roster and change the name on the banner—instead WEC opted to terminate the weight classes the UFC already had (exception: Lightweight) while pushing the WEC to be the home of the smaller fighters.
Any college guy could have accidentally stumbled upon the WEC at anytime of the day on Versus. From Wreckage, a highlight show of past bouts, to live fights, World Extreme Cage fighting always seemed to be on. With that kind of exposure, it's no wonder guys like Urijah Faber, Chad Mendez, Miguel Torres and Joseph Benavidez have garnered the attention of AMP Energy and ESPN MMA Live while several other fighters have also found stardom.
Another piece of the puzzle is the beef between Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone and Jamie Varner. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the WEC is also the home of arguably the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artists and the 2010 Charles "Mask" Lewis Fighter of the Year winner, Jose Aldo.
Earlier this year our beloved fight promotion held its first, last and only PPV event. WEC 48: Aldo vs Faber, it was foreshadowing at its best; virtually all references of World Extreme Cage fighting were omitted, with the only exceptions being early versions of the event poster, one mention during the broadcast by Joe Rogan and the WEC logo on the championship belts themselves.
During the broadcasts, the announcers referred only to "the organization" while the WEC logo was removed from the cage and the fighter's gloves. Over 12,000 fans showed up for the event totaling just under $one million, an undeniable success. If that's the ice cream sundae, the cherry on top must be the Aldo vs. Faber DVD.
What is the best moment in WEC history? Some say it was the heroic performance by Urijah Faber who finished a five round fight with two broken hands. Others argue it was the Lenard Garcia-Korean Zombie fight which became an instant classic. Whatever your favorite moment is, remember that it was free, extremely entertaining, high-level mixed martial arts in its truest form.
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