World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) was an American Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion. It was purchased by Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), in 2006. In its final incarnation, it was made up of 3 weight classes: 135, 145 and 155 lbs. To accommodate the smaller fighters, WEC’s cage was 25 ft. in diameter—5 ft. smaller than the standard UFC cage.
The organization was started in 2001, by Scott Adams and Reed Harris. Between 2001 and 2006, most of their events were held at Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California, and aired on HDNet.
In December 2006, Zuffa purchased WEC. With the purchase, WEC continued as a separate promotion with its own roster of fighters. Adams was retained after the purchase as the organization’s matchmaker. Harris and Adams were named co-General Managers and were both active in the new WEC. In 2008, Sean Shelby was named the new match-maker for the promotion by Zuffa.
Zuffa made several changes to the promotion after the purchase. It discontinued its pentagonal cage for a modified version of the UFC‘s octagonal cage. The championships of fighters who were contracted UFC fighters were vacated. The promotion moved to focus on lighter weight classes, abandoning their heavyweight and super heavyweight divisions and championships and retaining their bantamweight and featherweight divisions—two divisions not then present in the UFC. After the purchase, several WEC events were held in Zuffa‘s hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, much like the UFC.
WEC aired their events live on Versus (formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network and now as the NBC Sports Network) in the United States and on TSN (and later The Score) in Canada. WEC’s first live event was broadcast on June 3, 2007 on Versus from The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Todd Harris was the play by play announcer on every televised WEC event on Versus, and was joined by former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir on color commentary until the spring of 2010, when Mir was replaced by UFC light heavyweight Stephan Bonnar. Fellow Zuffa fighters Kenny Florian & Jens Pulver have also filled in on color commentary due to Mir or Bonnar’s absences. UFC announcers Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan called WEC’s only pay-per-view event, WEC 48 in April 2010. Postfight interviews on the Versus-televised cards were typically done by either Harris or Versus sportscaster Craig Hummer.
Joe Martinez served as the announcer for Zuffa-promoted WEC events until April 2010, when he left the organization and was replaced by UFC announcer Bruce Buffer. However, Martinez made a one-off return at WEC 52 that November when Buffer was overseas for a UFC event.
WEC announced that it would dissolve their light heavyweight and middleweight divisions after their December 3, 2008 event to further their concentration on lighter classes. Fighters from the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions started fighting in the UFC after the dissolution of their divisions. Also, on February 3, 2009, WEC officially announced the creation of a 125 lb. flyweight division and the dissolution of its welterweight division (flyweight would have been the last division under the “Unified Rules of MMA” to be activated under Zuffa, excluding Super Heavyweight). Fighters from the welterweight division started fighting in the UFC after the dissolution of their division. The only weight class that still crossed over between WEC and the UFC prior to the merger was the 155 lb lightweight division.
On January 8, 2010, World Extreme Cagefighting announced that AMP Energy would be the official energy drink of WEC. Amp Energy also sponsored three of WEC’s top stars – featherweight Urijah Faber, featherweight Chad Mendes and bantamweight Joseph Benavidez.
On April 24, 2010, WEC held its only pay-per-view event, WEC 48, which featured two championship fights. The main event featured WEC Featherweight Champion José Aldo defending his title against former champion Urijah Faber.
On October 28, 2010, UFC President Dana White announced that WEC would merge with the UFC.
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