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UFC The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a U.S.-based mixed martial arts organization, recognized as the largest MMA promotion in the world. The UFC is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada and is owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC. This promotion is responsible for solidifying the sport's postion in the history-books. UFC is currently undergoing a remarkable surge in popularity, along with greater mainstream media coverage. UFC programming can now be seen on FOX, FX, and FUEL TV in the United States, as well as in 35 other countries worldwide.

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Old 12-15-2010, 05:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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End of an era, WEC stars reflect

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GLENDALE, Ariz. As of today, the WEC is still their home. By Friday morning, it will just be a memory.

The WEC fighters and staff, they know this. At least, they know it in a hypothetical sense, the way you know that nothing lasts forever. But when the final fight is over at WEC 53 and the little blue cage is taken apart and packed away for the last time, that's when it's going to get real.

Even with as much as they've thought about this day over the past couple months, nobody can be sure exactly how that moment will feel when it arrives.

"I think it's going to be kind of bittersweet," said WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson. "It's already bittersweet to me now. I try not to think about it too much, but it's already pretty bittersweet to me. It's been great. It's been a great ride."

Only now the ride is over. For guys like Henderson, that's much more good news than bad. Win or lose against challenger Anthony Pettis on Thursday night, it's all but certain that he'll get a chance to prove himself in the UFC's lightweight division once the WEC is dissolved. With the big show comes bigger paychecks, more exposure, and tougher competition.

Again, more good than bad. But not every fighter on Thursday night's final WEC card is in Henderson's position.

Take Donald Cerrone and Chris Horodecki, for instance. Both are hoping for a spot in the UFC's crowded lightweight division, but as Cerrone said on Tuesday, the loser of their fight could easily find himself on the chopping block. Even once they're officially on the UFC roster, it doesn't necessarily mean their jobs will be any more secure.

"It's like going to a new school in a way," said Cerrone. "We're going to be the guys who get picked on until we make our mark."

But for men like Reed Harris, who co-founded the WEC nine and a half years ago, it's not so simple. Back when they put on the WEC's first event at the Tachi Palace Casino in 2001, they weren't at all sure there would be a WEC 2, much less a WEC 53.

"It was like throwing a party," said Harris. "Literally, it was like throwing a party. We thought, we'll do this show, we'll kind of step back afterwards, and we'll see if the casino likes it. Our first show, we were supposed to have Chuck Liddell fight. Then the UFC signed Chuck Liddell and they sent me a cease and desist letter, which is how I met [UFC president] Dana [White]."

Then, even more so than now, starting an MMA organization was a great way to lose a lot of money in a hurry. That Harris managed to keep it going for so long is a minor miracle in itself. That he managed to do so without alienating his wife, he pointed out, is a major one.

"I was a real estate developer that came home one day and said, 'Look, I want to do fights. We have ring girls and there's a lot of drinking going on at the shows and then these guys are going to beat the sh-t out of each other, but don't worry it won't affect our home life,'" Harris laughed. "And it did, obviously. I've been gone a lot, but she supported me a lot."

In part because the WEC has been the smaller, less heralded MMA organization under the Zuffa banner in recent years, it's fostered a unique family atmosphere among its employees.

For instance, ask any WEC fighter what he'll miss once the organization is gone and he's likely to say something about how much he's enjoyed busting the chops of Dave Sholler, the WEC's good-humored PR manager.

But it's more than just that.

"I'm going to miss the fans," said Pettis. "The WEC fans are hardcore. They come to all the shows. I'm going to miss fighting in the blue gloves, too. But it's one of those things we get asked in all the interviews, is how we stack up against the UFC guys. Now we get to show them."

After years of hearing how they're not up to the level of competition in the UFC, it's a sentiment shared by most of the WEC's lightweights, including the champ.

"I don't think we're getting a whole lot of respect from those [UFC] 155-pounders," said Henderson. "I think they're writing us off out of hand. 'Oh yeah, the WEC guys are coming up, they're going to be weeded out pretty quickly, yada yada yada.' That's fine. That's their opinion. I don't think they're really paying attention to us. Which is fine. Don't pay attention to me. You will in a little bit."

At least for this week, the spotlight is still firmly on them. As Cerrone pointed out, if the beginning of their UFC careers is like going to a new school, then Thursday night is like the last day before summer break.

"This is the day we have fun," he grinned.

And as for the blue cage, even when it's disassembled for the last time at the Jobing.com Arena, it will still live on somewhere, according to the man who was first responsible for putting it up.

"I've actually got a place in California and I'm thinking of putting it on my tennis court," said Harris. "So if they want, they can just come by there and see it. There's room, and I don't play tennis."
Source: MMAFighting.com

I'm really gonna miss the little show that could, it's had a damn good run :/
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Old 12-15-2010, 09:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks that was a good article, and I'm gonna miss them having a show for themselves but will still be watching the ones I can. I don't see anybody in their right minds cutting Cowboy if he somehow gets upset by the Polish hammer though.
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Old 12-16-2010, 08:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Budhilein let's not get Emotional here.. otherwise I am going too..

damn you succeeded..

Congratulations^^
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Old 12-16-2010, 11:43 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Like they said, I'll miss the blue gloves and ring... The WEC was just something special, it really was... The show tonight is stacked so they should at least go out with a bang
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Old 12-16-2010, 11:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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With a BANG

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Old 12-17-2010, 12:50 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The Matrix kick by Petis was ridiculous.
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Old 12-17-2010, 05:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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WEC = pure excitement!

I'll admit not watching them from the start, because i didn't know much about WEC. I grew up with Pride, UFC and Dream.

But the last 2 years gave me a chance to watch WEC fights and ...DAAAAAMN!!!

Imo they put the most exciting fights together! NO doubt!

WEC will be missed!
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limba View Post
WEC = pure excitement!

I'll admit not watching them from the start, because i didn't know much about WEC. I grew up with Pride, UFC and Dream.

But the last 2 years gave me a chance to watch WEC fights and ...DAAAAAMN!!!

Imo they put the most exciting fights together! NO doubt!

WEC will be missed!
Same here. Grew up on Pride/UFC, didn't give WEC a chance until Benderson/Cerrone I and bam, instant fan.
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Old 12-19-2010, 02:44 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The evolution of the WEC as an organization was amazing to watch. It basically went from a third tier promotion, to a second tier promotion, to being the UFC of the lighter two weightclasses.

The jump that they made and the characters who were involved (the numerous tier two fighters that came up through the organization and the rise that was largely led by Urijah Faber) makes for a lot of great stories.

A great organization, and it's good to see it brought into the UFC, which is exactly where the road should end for it.

EDIT: Also, because it can't be said enough, it was a great card by any standards. It would've been less awesome to see it go out with a weak event, but there was no disappointment in that respect. It made everything that much better.
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Old 12-20-2010, 03:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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<3 the WEC, that was the way to go out for sure, amazing cars as always.
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