UFC & WEC Merge: About Time!

Posted: October 29, 2010 in Marketing, PR, UFC

Yup.  By now, you know its official. After a year of speculation Zuffa, LLC has merged the UFC and WEC into one promotion. The UFC will now absorb the WEC’s 155, 145 and 135 pound weight classes as of January 1, 2011.  FINALLY! I feel like it was just yesterday I was writing about why I wanted this.

UFC president Dana White confirmed the news yesterday, catching a lot of people off guard who were expecting the announcement of a UFC television network.  (Amusingly, the rumor was even spread to ESPN’s “PTI” where the hosts claimed the UFC network would be announced shortly.)

According to the official press release, White noted: “As the UFC continues to evolve and grow globally, we want to be able to give fans title fights in every weight division. This is a big day for the sport and the athletes who will have the opportunity to fight on the biggest stage in the world.”

Let’s break down this deal and see what this means for the short and long-term:

Immediate Business Details:

  • According to reports from Zuffa, LLC no jobs will be lost, all WEC employees will become UFC employees. (Yes, even ring girl Britney Palmer).
  • UFC’s Octagon will not decrease in size to accommodate the smaller fighters.
  • WEC champion Jose Aldo is now the UFC Featherweight champion and will defend his title on January 1, 2011 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada at UFC 125.
  • WEC champion Ben Henderson will defend his lightweight title for the last time at WEC 53 against Anthony Pettis, the winner of this fight has been granted a title shot against the winner of the Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard lightweight title bout at UFC 125.
  • As for WEC champion Dominick Cruz, he will defend his title against Scott Jorgensen at WEC 53 with the winner becoming the UFC’s bantamweight champion.
  • As for the WEC’s television deal, the UFC has reached an agreement with VERSUS to air four live events per year instead of their usual two on the cable broadcast channel.  This means the UFC will continue to air on both SPIKE and VERSUS.

My Thoughts for Long Term:

  • Brand Consolidation – by simply calling the joint entity the UFC the organization will further build on an established brand name and limit the confusion of any casual fans that are looking to take a deeper dive into MMA.  This also helps Zuffa cut costs as it only needs to create one set of logos, championship belts, etc.
  • More Title Fights/Stronger Events for Fans – Although there is no shortage of talent, there is sometimes a shortage of decent PPV cards for the UFC.  By adding in some of these lighter classes you add the number of title fights fans can see.
  • Better Exposure for Fighters – The WEC offered some great MMA talent, but due to a lack of exposure in the WEC brand name more casual fans did not get to see the fighters in action.
  • More sponsorship opportunities for the UFC – The UFC name carries a lot more weight than WEC and that means more ad revenue.  By absorbing the WEC you now get more money per ad during events.  With four events on VERSUS, I guarantee you that large consumer brands will be willing to pay more to be associated with a UFC event instead of a WEC program.

Potential Dream Fights:
With the WEC formally joining the UFC ranks, we could potentially see fights like:

  • Donald Cerrone vs. Kenny Florian
  • Urijah Faber vs. Sean Sherk (catch-weight)
  • Jamie Varner vs. Joe Lauzon
  • Jose Aldo vs. Anybody

What say you fight fans and marketers, what do you like about this merger?

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Comments
  1. […] excited about this merger. Don’t get me wrong, as I posted I’ve been saying it needed to happen all along – but I wasn’t really sure how it would play out.  Now after these two title fights, I’m […]

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