It’s been nearly ten years since the WEC has been gone, and while many of those fighters are retired now or fighting elsewhere, there are still quite a few signed to the UFC. It’s too late for a WEC tribute event for the 10 year anniversary, but what do we think of the UFC putting on a WEC throwback event within the next year?
There are still enough of them from the WEC roster to make this happen, and if people, as well as the UFC, do want it to happen, it needs to be put together soon. In the not too distant future, we won’t have any WEC veterans left.
Who Could We Use?
Well, as mentioned above, at this point in time, there are still a decent amount of guys to go to. There is however a question that’d need to be answered, do we want it to be just the bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight divisions, or do we want all of them aside from flyweight and women’s divisions?
If you remember, the last WEC event happened on December 16 of 2010. The first ZUFFA flyweight fight took place on March 3 of 2012. Or could we still do flyweight, because some of the bantamweights made the move down once the weight class was created?
Aljamain Sterling, Cody Garbrandt, Conor McGregor, TJ Dillashaw, Petr Yan, Sean O’Malley, they have all been in the UFC for some time now, but came to the UFC after the WEC merged. They could probably still be on the card though, if they’re opposing a WEC vet.
Cory Sandhagen voiced how the WEC inspired him when he was a teenager, and that’s where he got his start, watching World Extreme Cagefighting. He could also fight a WEC veteran, Sandhagen versus anyone is a compelling match up.
Who Can’t We Use?
As we’ve said, we can’t use all of them, unfortunately. There were a lot of great fighters that just aren’t actively competing anymore, or they’re with a different promotion now, such as Demetrious Johnson. Takeya Mizugaki left the UFC back in 2016 and went to ACB and Rizin, before retiring last year in 2019.
Scott Jorgensen was a lot of fun to watch, and in his prime, a tough fight for anyone not named Dominick Cruz. Jorgensen’s prime was just very short lived though, kind of like BJ Penn.
He hasn’t been around since 2015, and by the time he was done, he’d fallen from 13-4 to 15-12. It was hard to watch, but that’s how most go out, unfortunately.
Danny Castillo had a pretty good career, and almost beat Tony Ferguson at one point, but ended his career back in 2015 as well on a four-fight losing streak. Three of those defeats were split decisions he could’ve easily gotten the nod in. He’s since switched his focus to a full time coach at Team Alpha Male.
Brad Pickett called it quits in order to switch his focus to coaching in 2017, and now has bright UFC prospects under his wing, such as Nathaniel Wood.
Chad Mendes returned after a two-year suspension in 2018, and went 1-1 upon return, before retiring. Anthony Njokuani was a great kickboxer that was all sorts of fun to watch, he was cut back in 2014. He had a couple fights in the LFA after being cut, before returning to kickboxing.
Michael McDonald was a straight-up prodigy that battled injuries throughout his young career. He was starching former world champions when he was just 20-years-0ld, there was no limit to this kids potential.
McDonald eventually left the UFC and joined Bellator. He went 2-0 with them before calling it a career in 2018 at just 27-years-old. How well rounded this kid was, and his overall raw talent, he may be the best in the world right now if he stuck with it.
Ricardo Lamas stated after his last fight that he was probably going to retire. He wanted to go out on a win, and after losing three of his last four, he won a close unanimous decision over Bill Alego, and contemplated retiring afterwards. However, if the UFC put this event together, he may want to come back for one more.
Miguel Torres was the man in the WEC for some time, much like Urijah Faber, he just wasn’t quite as popular. At one point, he was 37-1 with 31 finishes, as well as a four-time WEC Bantamweight Champion. He’d avenged his only defeat at this point, where he lost a decision and won the rematch via submission (armbar).
Torres didn’t go out in the best way though, like most, losing his prime years before he came to the UFC. Torres finished his career off with a record of 44-9 in 2016.
Does anyone remember Josh Grispi? Much like Michael McDonald, he was a prodigy from a very young age.
He could do everything; he could knock his opponents out, submit them when he’s taken down, or initiate the grappling exchange himself and walk away with the submission victory, he was a serious threat for a couple years there.
At his best, he was only 21-years-old, and he had a record of 14-1 with 13 first round finishes.
This included going 4-0 in the WEC, having finished Mark Hominick (rear naked choke), Micah Miller (TKO), Jens Pulver (guillotine choke), and LC Davis (guillotine choke). He was already so good at such a young age, and he was absolutely massive for a featherweight at the time.
Grispi was well on his way to becoming a real great of our sport, and he was expected to challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship in his UFC debut, the first title fight of WEC talents. However, Aldo got injured, and Grispi ended up fighting Dustin Poirier to stay active, a fight he lost, badly.
Poirier battered Grispi for three rounds, bringing Grispi’s record to 14-2. He then lost his next three-straight, going from 14-1 to 14-5, before being cut.
Grispi hasn’t fought since, and he’s currently in prison for some not so good deeds he committed, including domestic abuse, training his pit bull to attack his girlfriend, as well as multiple drug and firearm charges.
Grispi has since been given more time considering he thought it was an okay thing to do to manipulate and threaten his now ex-girlfriend from the inside. He turned out to be a real piece of work. It’s sad, he’s 32-years-old now. Anyone that remembers watching him from 2008-2010, man, we sure wouldn’t have expected this.
Mike Brown, Leonard Garcia, and Jamie Varner all fought in the UFC before they went to the WEC, but they all had good careers in the WEC, before returning to the UFC.
Garcia had some of the best fights we’ll ever see, Brown became a three-time WEC Featherweight Champion, having defeated Urijah Faber twice, and Jamie Varner became a three-time WEC Lightweight Champion.
Though Varner didn’t come right over to the UFC when the WEC merged, considering he was on a bit of a skid at that time, when he did return, he became the first man to defeat Edson Barboza, doing so via TKO in round one.
Bryan Caraway was with the UFC for a good amount of time after The Ultimate Fighter 14, but was cut a couple years ago following his defeat to Pedro Munhoz. Though he lost his only two WEC bouts, he could’ve still been eligible, he’s a WEC vet.
Brian Bowles was the man to defeat the great Miguel Torres back in 2009 when he was just 7-0, doing so via first-round KO. Bowles is another talent that was expected to be the next big thing. Defeating Torres proved for many to be no simple task, impossible even.
He lost his title to longtime WEC & UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz in his very next fight. Bowles then defeated Damacio Page again, and then Takeya Mizugaki, before losing to Urijah Faber and George Roop.
Bowles sadly hasn’t fought since his defeat to Roop back in 2013, a fight he was suspended afterward for elevated testosterone levels. He too got himself into some trouble. In 2015, Bowles was arrested on multiple felony charges, including possession and distribution of meth, marijuana, and valium, along with numerous packaging materials for distribution, and an unlawful weapons charge.
What sucks about this, Bowles wasn’t even someone the police were looking for. They were looking for a woman that they assumed would be at his address. She wasn’t there, but he was, along with all his drugs and illegal firearms. Every offense he was charged with was a felony, and he was jailed indefinitely.
Three or Seven Weight Classes?
As far as whether they do three weight classes or seven is a toss up. Not many people know, but the WEC showcased bantamweight through heavyweight up until the middle of 2008 when the heavier divisions were absorbed by the UFC.
Glover Teixeira made his professional debut at WEC 3, losing via TKO, and he went on to fight for them three more times, winning all three.
Carlos Condit was the welterweight champion when he came over to the UFC. Nick Diaz won the welterweight title there, Chris Leben won the middleweight title there, Nate Diaz fought for the lightweight title there.
Mike Swick, Jeremy Horn, Tim Kennedy, Dan Severn, Lavar Johnson, Frank Shamrock, Karo Parisyan, Chael Sonnen, Chris Lytle, Shane Carwin, James Irvin, Brandon Vera, and many more started their careers with the WEC, aside from Severn, Horn, and Shamrock of course.
They did however fight there in the promotions early years. It was only in the last couple years that the promotion started to catch on, but it still didn’t come close to generating the same revenue as the UFC, even at that time when watching MMA wasn’t necessarily the “cool” thing to do.
Point being, the lighter weight classes somehow caught on better than when they had all the weight classes.
When the WEC had every weight division, everyone just thought of it as a small promotion with bum fighters. But when they shrunk down to just three weight divisions, people realized we don’t get to watch those lower weight divisions in the UFC, and this is the biggest organization with small fighters.
It legitimized the promotion. People now knew that the very best 135 lb and 145 lb fighters on the planet are with the WEC. Lightweight didn’t really get too many excited because the UFC has a lightweight division, no one thought the WEC talents were as good as the fighters in the UFC.
Naysayers were proven wrong quite quickly however, as Donald Cerrone went 4-1 in his introduction year of 2011, and the next two UFC Lightweight Champions were Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis, who both came from WEC.
It’s actually pretty funny, because they were the last two WEC Lightweight Champions before coming over.
Pettis took Henderson’s WEC belt in Henderson’s hometown of Seattle, Washington, and Pettis took Henderson’s UFC belt in his own hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After losing the last fight in WEC history, Henderson went on to win his next three fights, quite dominantly, and was awarded a title shot against Frankie Edgar.
Henderson won the belt and defended it three times, which is still tied for the record today with BJ Penn and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Pettis was supposed to get an immediate title shot upon joining the UFC.
However, then champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard battled to a draw in their title fight rematch, and the UFC booked the trilogy following their draw.
Pettis fought Clay Guida in his UFC debut in order to stay active, and lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Pettis went on a tear after that however, and worked his way up to a title shot against, you guessed it, Benson Henderson, again. Honestly, a script could never be written that beautifully, it really was a sight to see.
Jose Aldo also defeated three-time UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar as soon as Edgar moved down to featherweight, a much more natural weight class for him. The WEC bred all sorts of elite talents.
Ben Henderson left the UFC for Bellator back in 2016, but Anthony Pettis is still here and could be a name to add to the card. Donald Cerrone’s still here, Erik Koch returned in the middle of last year, debuting at welterweight. James Krause was a lightweight when he fought in the WEC, and he’s now a welterweight.
Maybe the UFC could put Krause and Koch together? Koch hasn’t been consistently active in some time, and Krause has turned the majority of his focus to coaching and hasn’t been the most active himself.
Unfortunately, aside from Dustin Poirier, Pettis and Cerrone, no one from the WEC’s lightweight division is around anymore, and Poirier deserves a higher ranked opponent than one of them. However, they could do a WEC versus WSOF fight and have him rematch Justin Gaethje.
As we all know, he’s rematching Conor McGregor in January, but we’ve all wanted to see his rematch with Gaethje pretty much since the first one ended. That was one of the best fights any of us will ever have the pleasure of watching.
As far as featherweights go, we still have Cub Swanson and Chan Sung Jung. Swanson picked up his first victory in his last five fights by defeating Kron Gracie in October of 2019, but Jung just got completely out-classed in his last fight with Brian Ortega, so it does make sense.
That’d be a great fight between two elite boxers that can both kick and grapple very well. They could match those two up together, Jung and Swanson, or put each of them on the card against another opponent to fill a spot.
By the way, did anyone catch this last fight pictured above? It went down at WEC 52 between Cub Swanson and Mackens Semerzier, and if you haven’t seen it, look it up on Fight Pass. You can thank us later.
Another Return of ‘The California Kid’?
Urijah Faber just came back last year in June after three years of retirement and TKO’d Ricky Simon in just 46 seconds, his first knockout victory since January 2007, surely he’d want to be on the card.
Seeing ‘The California Kid’ in that WEC blue again, man that would really be a pleasure and a trip at the same time, it is truly missed.
Faber’s best years weren’t his physical prime years per se. He won the WEC Featherweight Championship and defended it five times before Mike Brown was able to snatch it from him.
His prime was actually from around 2011-2014, around the time he fought Dominick Cruz the second time, up until he fought Renan Barao the second time. We saw drastic improvements from him with everything he did in that time, it was really great to see, it’s just too bad he couldn’t capture that UFC belt.
Thinking about it, Faber being a former WEC champion, the WEC bantamweight and featherweight belts were UFC belts more or less. Both Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz were promoted to UFC champion upon merging. So to say Urijah Faber never won a UFC belt, it’s not quite as true as people make it seem.
Another interesting fact, Jose Aldo is actually the youngest world champion in the history of mixed martial arts, not Jon Jones. Aldo had just turned 23-years-old when he fought Mike Brown, and Jones was nearly 24-years-old when he fought Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua.
Jose Aldo, Eddie Wineland, Iuri Alcantara, Rani Yahya, and Raphael Assuncao are all still in the UFC as well, after all these years.
A fight with Faber and Yahya would be incredibly exciting to see, they’re two of the best MMA grapplers in the history of the sport, both have been around a long time, and both have very underrated striking.
A rematch between Faber and Assuncao would also be a great fight, as their first one was.
Joseph Benavidez stated that he’d like to have one more fight and go out on a win after his second defeat to Deiveson Figueiredo, but he said on MMAJunkie radio more recently that he again believes he can be champion.
Match Benavidez up with anyone, and people are going to tune in. He’s one of, if not the best fighter ever to have never won a major title.
Another Return of ‘The Dominator’?
Former WEC & UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz would make a great addition to the card as well, and if we’re lucky, he would be healthy enough to make this happen, so he can also compete this said night.
Cruz’ career has been one of the saddest in our sports history, only Cain Velasquez’ career can compete with the travesty of constant injuries Cruz has been forced to endure. Cruz was a five-time WEC & UFC Bantamweight Champion, before he finally got stripped of his title for inactivity.
‘The Dominator’ came back exactly three years later to face top five opponent Takeya Mizugaki, who was on a five-fight win streak at the time. Cruz stormed right through him and was awarded the KO victory just 61 seconds into round one.
Anyone that was excited for his comeback, we knew what his fights looked like, and that wasn’t it. That was the single best performance of his career, he really looked incredible. No one had done that to Mizugaki before, it was absolutely extraordinary.
After this, he got injured again, and was out another 15-and-a-half months before finally returning to challenge TJ Dillashaw for the UFC Bantamweight Championship, the belt he never lost in a fight.
Cruz defeated Dillashaw via split decision, and was able to defend his title for the first time in nearly five years against Urijah Faber in their trilogy.
Cruz ended up losing his title to Cody Garbrandt at the end of the year, a fight he also had injuries coming into, he just wasn’t going to be denied of fighting this time. He was actually injured going into his fight with Dillashaw as well, he hasn’t been able to catch a break since 2011.
Cruz has fought just one time since this, where he challenged Henry Cejudo for the UFC Bantamweight Championship earlier this year in May after a three-and-a-half year layoff. Though he lost the fight, and was finished, he showed us, he’s still got it.
Cejudo took round one from him pretty handily, before Cruz started making the proper adjustments in round two. It was a very competitive fight, up until that knee of Cejudo landed and wobbled Cruz. While Cruz was working his way up to his feet, the fight was stopped, very unjustly might we add.
He was merely stunned by the knee, he wasn’t out, not even close. When a fighter’s working their way up, they’re going to eat a couple shots at the least. It’s too bad, at least we get to see him return again at UFC 259 against Casey Kenney!
Nonetheless, Cruz is now 22-3 and hasn’t won a fight since 2016. He’s shown us before however, that doesn’t matter, not with him. He can still compete with some of the best in the sport today, and he’d make a great addition to this card.
Notice there are only 14 names up there that are eligible for this card, most fight cards have 12 or 13 fights, sometimes even 14. Sometimes they’ll lose one of them, or multiple fights on one card, and end up with 10 or 11, but they always aim for at least 13.
Seven, Or Eight Weight Divisions May Be A Must
This may require them to add welterweight at the least, if not more, considering there aren’t quite enough names from 135 lbs to 155 lbs to make enough match ups for this card. Joseph Benavidez is the only flyweight in the UFC that’s a WEC veteran, it’d have to be WEC talents versus whoever the UFC matches them up with.
Erik Koch, Carlos Condit, James Krause, and the Diaz brothers, why not? Koch vs Krause, and Diaz vs Condit II. Boom, there’s two welterweight bouts.
Koch versus Krause would be interesting to see because they’re both well rounded talents that’ve been around forever, and as mentioned above, neither are the most active. It’s a fair, fun fight.
The Return of Nick Diaz?
This could be No. 15 on the list, and if Nate comes along for the ride, we could have 16 of them. Nick Diaz has expressed interest in a 2021 return, and as long as they give Nate a big fight with enough money, he’ll take it.
They may only be able to get one of them for this event though, the Diaz’ have mentioned before they don’t want to fight on the same card as one another because all their focus won’t be on just one of them.
Regardless, a Diaz short and that’s still 15 names that could be a part of this event. Some of them could face other opponents, some of them could face one another.
Or, or we could have the newer breed fight the WEC vets, like the WEC versus WSOF suggestion for Poirier vs. Gaethje II. It’d be so great to see that blue one more time, especially before it’s too late.
This would be a really fun night of fights should this happen. There are all sorts of match ups they could make, and no one would deny one last WEC event. It would be a great marketing ploy, and the fighters would probably love it. It doesn’t have to be a giant pay-per-view event, just a nice Fight Night card would suffice.
It’s been ten years down to the month since we’ve seen anyone wear WEC gloves, since we’ve seen that blue cage.
It would be nice to see, because like previously stated, before too long, it’ll be too late. In a year, maybe two years, we won’t have any of them left. That’s the sport though, and that’s life. Father time will always remain undefeated.
How Do We Feel About The UFC Putting On A WEC Throwback Event?
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.