After months of openly considering the move, Zuffa LLC is now committed to folding some of the WEC's heavier weight classes into the UFC, and UFC President Dana White today said the process is already underway.
White confirmed the partial WEC-UFC merger while a guest on today's edition of TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com
), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
"We're working on that now," White said of the merger.
Ever since Zuffa LLC (the UFC's parent company) purchased the organization in December 2006, White has maintained that the WEC would be run as a separate entity -- not a feeder system for the UFC -- with a focus on the sport's lighter weight classes.
Although some fighters -- including current WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner, former UFC title-holder Jens Pulver and featherweight prospect Leonard Garcia -- went from the UFC to the WEC, they weren't necessarily demotions. In fact, Pulver and Garcia made the moves so they could fight at 145 pounds (a weight class not offered in the UFC), and Varner joined the WEC with the promise of a title shot.
However, the organization has struggled to stock its middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, and rather than pull talent from the UFC, White said the WEC's 205-pound and 185-pound divisions will be folded into the UFC.
"The answer is yes, and we're working on that right now," White said.
Although the light-heavyweight division offers some decent prospects in current WEC title-holder Steve Cantwell and former champ Brian Stann, neither is likely to make much of an immediate impact in the UFC's stacked 205-pound division.
However, a couple of WEC 185-pounders could make some waves in the UFC. Current WEC middleweight champ Paulo Filho is generally considered one of the world's top three 185-pounders, and his upcoming Sept. 10 opponent, Chael Sonnen, gave Filho all he could handle in their previous match-up. UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Filho are friends and, in the past, said they're unlikely to fight each other. However, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson all provide intriguing match-ups for the undefeated Brazilian.
In any manner, White didn't mention a timetable for the merger but confirmed the wheels are in motion.