Reports, this time from MMAWeekly.com, are once again circulating that the UFC is on the verge of closing a deal to purchase World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) ... if it hasn't done so already.
Here's a snip:
"... the UFC is buying the WEC for many reasons, one of which is to serve as a venue in which to groom up-and-coming talent, and another is so that they can attempt to secure a high-profile national television deal for the WEC in a strategic maneuver to impede the chances of other MMA promotions (specifically the IFL or Pride) to secure a national TV deal in the United States."
Historically, the WEC has already been considered somewhat of a farm system or "feeder" organization for larger mixed martial arts promotions such as the UFC.
Hermes Franca, Joe Riggs, Chris Lytle, Clay Guida, Brad Imes and James Irvin (in no particular order) are just a few of the current UFC fighters who have experience in the WEC pentagon (not an octagon, a PENTAGON).
Clearly, the cable television deal seems to be the biggest factor behind this decision by Zuffa.
With Pro Elite already inking a deal with Showtime, and PRIDE desperately seeking a broadcast partner, this move would ensure the UFC – the most recognized MMA organization in North America – could negotiate an exclusive deal with a cable giant like HBO and honor its commitment to Spike.
That much is known.
But, there are still several questions as to how the UFC and WEC are going to coexist.
--Does Dana White take a prominent role similar to his one with the UFC, does he play puppet master with current WEC President Scott Adams, or is he hands off?
--Will the UFC and WEC brands overlap?
--Will casual viewers tune into a product that has been – perhaps prematurely – labeled a "minor league" of sorts?
--Will Zuffa turn the WEC into a chop shop in which underpaid fighters are used and abused for the lure of one day making it to the Big Show?
--Will we get to see another Buffer emerge from the backwoods?
There are several other major questions regarding how this thing is going to work and how it will affect the landscape of MMA.
Once thing is for certain, however: Dana White and the Zuffa brass wouldn't mess with "their baby" if they didn't have some type of grand plan in place.
We'll just have to wait to see how it unfolds.