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So, Is the UFC-WEC Merger Good for Everybody Except the Hardcore Fans?

(Take a good look, people. It’s the last time you’ll be seeing stuff like this for free. PicProps:

OK, wait just a goddamned minute. There’s some sleight of hand going on here, isn’t there? Ever since Dana White organized another of his can’t-miss, super-special, earth-shattering, blow-your-fuckin’-mind announcement conference calls yesterday to let us know that the insatiable goatsucker that is the UFC will soon devour the scared gazelle of the WEC, people have been blowing nonstop smoke up our asses about how great this is going to be. And yeah, in a lot of ways it will be great. Specifically, it’ll be great for the fighters – except most WEC lightweights, who’ll certainly be fired as soon as they lose their first UFC fights — since the little guys finally get the long overdue opportunity to be UFC fighters, get UFC groupies and bank UFC paychecks. That’s all fine and good. Seriously, those guys deserve it.

But what about us? What about the hardcore fans who have been religiously tuning in to the WEC over the last couple of years to see what have consistently been the best shows in the industry? I mean, we’re kinda getting screwed on this deal, right? Granted, we’re no mathematicians, but it’s unclear how Zuffa reducing its programming on Versus from nine shows during 2010 to four shows during 2011 means anything other than fewer free fights for the fans. And let’s be honest, the UFC is absorbing the WEC for one reason only: So it can charge us for something we used to get for free.

Here’s the truth, P-Nation: Championship fights sell pay-per-views. If the numbers are accurate, there is some fairly convincing anecdotal evidence that casual fans will mindlessly reach into their wallets to order PPVs whenever they see a UFC title belt photo-shopped onto a poster. Yet title fights are something the UFC has been running a little low on lately.

In fact, even considering the epic awesomness of UFC 121’s main event, the UFC is currently balls deep in a stretch where it will do seven consecutive shows containing just one championship fight. One. By the time we break the monotony with GSP vs. Koscheck in December, we’ll have suffered through such “main events” as Marquardt vs. Palhares, Mir vs. CroCop, Bisping vs. Akiyama and a “TUF 12” finale which currently features Demian Maia vs. Kendall Grove as its most high-profile fight. Couple that with last year’s well-publicized fall PPV swoon and it doesn’t take a genius to see that the UFC has a developing main event problem. A problem which is only going to get worse as Zuffa continues to test the elasticity of its brand.

Take September’s UFC 119 for example. The debacle that was Frank Mir vs. Mirko CroCop had a bunch of axe-grinding internet bloggers asking aloud things like: “Will UFC 119 Break 440K PPV Buys?” and “Will UFC 119 Be the Worst Performing UFC in Years?” and “Mir vs. CroCop: Has the UFC Oversaturated the Market?”

Yeah, chances are that event didn’t pull a great number. But wait: Enter the WEC, with its heretofore untapped reservoir of exciting and marketable fighters and – most importantly – their title belts. What if the UFC could take historically weak cards like UFC 119 (and/or the upcoming UFC 122) and add featherweight and  bantamweight title fights to the mix? Suddenly those cards seem a lot more marketable. Can’t get Anderson Silva to go to Germany? Send Jose Aldo. Shogun needs another knee surgery? No problem, stick Dominick Cruz in his place. That should be enough to get the local sports bar crammed with in dudes in Tapout shirts who are suffering from Imaginary Lat Syndrome.

As for the rest of us? Well, the sad truth is that we’re going to buy most of the UFC’s PPVs no matter what. We’re suckers that way. We’re also kind of irrelevant, once you consider that the UFC marketing machine is necessarily more concerned with people who don’t already buy its product than people who do. On the real, though? White better come through on his promise to score a network deal this year or even start that certain-to-be-insufferable UFC channel we’ve been hearing about. For a guy who seems so concerned with “giving back” to fans, it’d be nice for him to find a way to restore the sanctity of our free fights.

Cagepotato Comments

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Daley- October 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm
I'm still not sure how I feel about this. For all the benefits of a merger there is 1 huge lingering doubt in my mind. That simply is that WEC puts on the best cards by miles, in any WEC show you will find more entertaining fights than in 6 months worth of UFC shows.
Now the questions that will be answered are, will the lighter weights prove that they are more entertaining to watch and its a weight class thing not a promotion thing or (the nightmare) will it be proven that the UFC as a promotion or as a 'system', for want of a better term, produces boring fights by creating tentative fighters through their various policies, specifically the 'quick fire' approach they take to contracts.

Bottom line is I love the WEC so fuck Zuffa/UFC for taking those shows away from me.
ashkenaziTROLL- October 30, 2010 at 5:23 am
we've made sports writing just unbearable .. we also crap on park benches and blame the niggers
Extremesyko420- October 29, 2010 at 10:25 pm
I feel the people that get screwed the worst is really the 125lbers. Before there seemed to be something slightly in the works with the division, and now it looks like the idea is completely dead.

Ask any of the people at Zuffa and they'll be so misinformed with MMA when it comes to the 125lbs division they'll say there isn't enough talent, like they've said in the past.
NinjaNerd8- October 29, 2010 at 5:54 pm
It's called a sports bar.

Get a drink and watch for free.

Problem solved.

Shut the fuck up.
tnbp- October 29, 2010 at 5:45 pm

You won't get free title fights. You don't get them now in the UFC and if the WEC were a bigger draw, you wouldn't have gotten any of those free, either. But now, with 7 weight classes, you're likely to get a title fight headlining a PPV card every month of the year and with an expanded roster, stronger PPV cards and more fighters to accommodate more fight cards, in general. Considering that PPV cards with title fights do way more buys than cards without, we were lucky the WEC was small enough and didn't get the attention they deserve as long as they did without our having to pay for them.
Canadian Chronic- October 29, 2010 at 5:16 pm
dont know if its been mentioned, but, more free fights doesnt necessarily mean more free Title fights.

Damn the Dark Lord!
tnbp- October 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I get that. But the article implies this move is good for everyone except hardcore fans, which I couldn't disagree with more. Hardcore fans are still going to buy or go out to watch every PPV like they did before. But the quality of every PPV is going to go up. And there will be even more free fights. I would argue that someone only watched those top draws from the WEC because they're free aren't exactly hardcore fans in the first place. The hardcore fans-- the ones who follow the sport and the fighters and really want to watch as much as they can-- benefit the most, in my eyes. It's just that on CP, every cloud seems to have a black lining, unfortunately.
budsellers- October 29, 2010 at 1:59 pm
i am happy to see the smaller guys get paid, but i would also like to see the ufc expand the number of belts by adding divisions(165,195 & 225). perhaps that can happen when gsp vacates moves up to 185.
ksgbobo- October 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm
What gets me is that pretty much every WEC event was a great event...whats going to happen now is my more gay ass boring UFC events please
KarmaAteMyCat- October 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm
You do realize this opens an Ultimate Fighter Venue for 135lbs and 145lbs. It keeps it going. This excites me for several reasons. One being that I don't think anyone could handle another season of heavy weights gassing out in the first round and or being smothered by a fat experienced jujitsu guy(I LIKE ROY NELSON BTW). The second being that these weight divisions put on amazing fights I love watching the WEC and have said for years that these divisions will stand and bang with one another more so then the 170lb bracket and up will. Even the grappling aspect of these weight divisions is exciting. I think the Third and final reason this excites me is because they are going to be looking for 145lb Fighters soon I mean honestly do you see anyone out there taking Aldo out? Did anyone other then Karo, Manny or his camp think Manny had a fucking chance? Not me thats for sure. Look I think as die hard fans it is our job to stand behind the positive changes being made in "Our" sport. Think about it this way guys the NFL still hasn't negotiated new contracts and come 2011 MMA will be the front runner for all those affliction wearing meat heads(New Helmet hit rule FUCKED that all up) I'm excited so I think I'll go drink a vanilla Latte and salute The Potato Nation and our ever evolving sport.
DiazBrotherFromAnotherMother- October 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm
leave it to CP to try and find something horribly wrong with something as awesome as this. classic journalists. more fighters = bigger cards and more cards. more cards = more free cards, and if not we just have epic ppv's. and the free ones obviously dont have to be on versus, we just had a free ufc on spike 2 weeks ago if u had forgotten already and another one coming up in november. so quit ur pointless whining about nothing and just enjoy the fact that the rest of the world will finally kno how sick jose aldo is, and i will no longer have to show people shitty quality youtube highlights so that they know who im talking about.
And i guarrenty the next TUF will be feather and bantom weight to help market the new weight classes.. sooo mafuckin pumped.
ArmFarmer- October 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm
You're going to watch the fuckin ufc events anyway.. now you're crying because the cards will be way more stacked? This just consolodates all the good shit for convenient, one stop shopping.. like walmart. I know walmart is evil, but man do I love having one 3 minutes from my house.

This may be a cash grab, call it what you want, but I'm gonna enjoy the hell out of it and that's all I care about. If it makes more money for the ufc that's fine by me, they deserve it and it just makes it easier for them to expand and bring in more high dollar competitors.
jimbonics- October 29, 2010 at 1:16 pm
for all intensive purposes

for all intents and purposes

Sorry, Ballkick, had to.
HEY- October 29, 2010 at 12:59 pm
What? No. It's awesome.

C'mon. This is good for the both of us.

Just the tip. Just for a second. Just to see how it feels...
knucklesamitch- October 29, 2010 at 12:47 pm
@Bodysnatcher...Spike and Versus are basic cable channels for I count that as "free"...At least to the extent that they are not premium pay channels (like say a UFC channel would be). I get Spike and Versus by just paying for cable, I don't have to pay anything extra for the sole purpose of seeing UFC and WEC fights...Now Strikeforce/Showtime...They rape me for $15 extra dollars each month for a sub par product.
RwilsonR- October 29, 2010 at 12:47 pm
I get where this article is coming from, but the major upside to this merger is that we will get more stacked UFC cards. Rather than have a fight like Alessio Sakara vs. Drew McFedries fill out a main card, they can now fill it out with a quality and relevant match from the lower weight classes. So while the overall number of mma fights may drop, the quality of what we do see will hopefully increase. Maybe I'm just optimistic. But at least that leaves me plenty of room to be disappointed and complain about unachieved expectations.
bodysnatcher- October 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm
Unless you're stealing your cable, those WEC fights weren't free in the first place. Fact is, the UFC has never put on a free fight. PPV or paid cable channels, pick your poison.

LET IT RAIN- October 29, 2010 at 11:51 am
i wouldn't necessarilly say this is just a cash grab. There's always two sides to every coin. I'm not saying we should all tongue DW's ass for the free fights we have received thus far from the WEC, but they were building a brand. Making sure that there was an audience for bantam and feather before introducing it into the limelight. Did your first drug dealer charge you for your crack, or just give it to you to get you hooked first? I'm not saying they aren't doing it for money, but i'm sure there are a few factors involved. 1)All fighters are now under one roof/brand, 2)The number one brand, just ate the number two brand, who's fighting for table scraps now?, 3) wider range of fighters for PPVs should equate to more PPV purchases, 4) UFC Undisputed 2011 just got better, 5) I'm sure there's a shit ton of other reasons that I didn't think of.
Stak40- October 29, 2010 at 11:49 am
Man i dont understand why paying or not paying for a PPV is such a big deal. Don't most places have a bar that airs the fights for free. Out here damn near any bar or restaurant airs the fights for free. Is it the fact that you cant watch the fights in the comfort of your moms basement for free?
otownpyle- October 29, 2010 at 11:47 am
Great Article.
Ballkick- October 29, 2010 at 11:43 am

Oh rest assured that Canadians foolishly embrace the love affair with Capitalism as much as the US.
We are, for all intensive purposes,... sheep up here above the 49th Parallel, following blindly along with the doctrine introduced by your corporations/government.
Makes me sick to my stomach actually.
I swear to you now, I will never again pay to watch the UFC.
Crap Factory- October 29, 2010 at 11:43 am
@ Fedor Penn:

Exactly. This is why I haven't paid to watch a UFC event in over two years. If they plan on more PPV's, then I plan on breaking the law some more.
Fedor Penn- October 29, 2010 at 11:35 am
Illegal stream party!!!
Almost North- October 29, 2010 at 11:35 am
For those of us who don't have cable this makes absolutely no difference. More of us than you think.
knucklesamitch- October 29, 2010 at 11:34 am

The downside is you won't see any of the top draws from the WEC for free any more...And all the free cards will be filled with fights that you'll still watch, but if you didn't, you wouldn't feel like you missed anything.