I'm not sure if you guys heard, but the WEC has recently merged with the UFC, with the last WEC event taking place this past Thursday. Now I think it's pretty safe to assume that the 145 and 135ers are pretty safe, at least for a while, since the UFC doesn't currently carry these weight classes. However, the UFC already has a stacked lightweight division. It's been said, and there is probably some truth to it, that if the WEC LWs were "that" good, they'd already be in the UFC. While I'm sure there are extenuating circumstances when it comes to this, I also believe that there is something to be said for the verity of that statement. So seeing as were coming down to the end of this year and are about to embark upon year numero uno with 7 weight classes in the UFC, which WEC lightweights do you guys think will still be employed when the year 2012 rolls around? Below, I gave my opinions, but they are just that - opinions. Feel free to give yours and discuss.
Anthony Pettis - even had he LOST the fight to "Smooth" the other night, I still don't think he'd be in any danger of getting a pink slip from Dana. Always exciting, and very well rounded for someone his age. He'll be in the UFC 'til he retires, possibly with a strap around his waist at some point.
Ben Henderson - I'm sure he wasn't planning on going into the UFC on the heels of a loss, but he is without a doubt one of the true talents of the WEC lightweight division. Has got some slick subs and has arguably been in the past two MMA "fight(s) of the year."
Donald Cerrone - brings it every time in the cage. Only career losses are to Henderson (twice) and Jamie Varner when he actually had some merit. Crazy good submission game, especially his triangle, and no slouch when throwing his hands either.
Anthony Njokuani - despite his recent rough patch, I personally think very highly of this young man. Fantastic striker; can stand and bang with the best of em. Always put on exciting fights, which Dana recognizes almost as much as wins. Might not retire in the big leagues, but I say he still has his name on a dotted line come 2012.
Shane Roller - division 1 collegiate wrestler at a powerhouse school - not a bad way to get into MMA. Great offensive and defensive wrestling and a very solid grappler. Only WEC losses came at the hands of Henderson and Pettis. Unfortunately the UFC is full of 155ers of their caliber. Would be willing to bet he could string some undercard wins together and hang around for a little while.
Kamal Shalorus - another great wrestler. Comes equipped with heavy hands and a big fat goose egg in the loss column. Only problem is he hasn't faced top flight competition yet, with his best win coming the other night against Bart Palaszewski. That could spell disaster once he starts fighting some better guys, or he could surprise some people, which I think he definitely could.
Tiequan Zhang - not as impressed with his game as I thought I would be when he first came to the U.S. However, I think he might stick around for a little bit longer than he deserves so Dana can possibly make some more money in China. Coming of a decision loss, I think he has a better shot to stick around if he drops to 145.
Jamie Varner - will undoubtedly get at least one fight in the big show due to name recognition, but something tells me he'll be one and done. Simply has not been the same since he beat Cowboy at WEC 38. On a 4 fight winless streak; if he makes it 5, its a wrap for Mr. C-4
Danny Castillo - exciting fighter with fast hands and losses to only the top tier of fighters in the WEC. However he has some cardio issues and is very streaky. He cannot afford to be streaky in the UFC. Might hang on if he strings together a couple of wins, but seeing as he's essentially been relegated to gatekeeper status in the WEC, things do not look good in the long term for "Last Call."
Chris Horodecki - a lot of fights under his belt for someone his age, but unfortunately, no big wins. Decent hands and decent wrestling, but I just don't think it'll be enough to hang with the big dogs. Coming in off his loss to Cowboy, probably needs to win his debut to see another fight in the UFC.
Bart Palaszewski - this highly experienced fighter just had his 4 fight winning streak halted by Kamal Shalorus this past Thursday. Good all around game, but I don't think he'll be able to put together enough wins in the UFC. He does have a decision victory over "Showtime" Pettis, however, something that not even Ben Henderson could achieve, so you never know.
Ricardo Lamas - despite a good record, does not have a key win in the WEC. Coming off a loss and not very exciting to watch. I don't see him with a contract much past one fight, if at all.
Dave Jansen - good ground game, but is on a two fight losing streak in the WEC against less than spectacular competition. All three of his WEC fights have gone to the judges, as well, and the only thing worse than an boring fighter is a boring fighter who loses.
Will Kerr - another fighter 1-2 under contract by Zuffa, with his only win coming against someone who was cut by the WEC (Karen Darabedyan). Been stopped twice in his career, both coming in the WEC at the hands of Kamal Shalorus and Danny Castillo. Will most likely get stopped, and then cut, if he gets a fight in the UFC.
Ed Ratcliff - besides a great nickname, he doesn't have much of a case. Despite good hands, he is lacking in his ground game and is on a 2 fight losing streak. "9mm" can be exciting to watch, but he will have to really come with it in his UFC debut if he wants to see a second fight in the Octagon.