The WEC 53 main event was excellent -- as most of the promotion's headliners were -- and ended with Pettis hitting what is famously known as the "Showtime Kick." The WEC almost never failed to deliver but as the 155 and 170-pounders made their way to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), it was felt they would soon be exposed.
Big fish in a small pond seemed to be the mentality surrounding WEC fighters and once they entered the Octagon, the sharks of the UFC would turn them into chum.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Octagon.
Last night (Aug. 11, 2012) at UFC 150, Henderson defended his 155-pound crown, besting Frankie Edgar for the second time over five rounds. Meanwhile, in the co-main event, his fellow WEC veteran knocked out The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 2 alumni Melvin Guillard in less than a minute and a half.
Weren't these guys supposed to be run out of the UFC?
Let's do a quick rundown of former WEC fighters, shall we?
- Ben Henderson - The current and defending lightweight champion. He's undefeated in the Octagon with wins over Jim Miller, Clay Guida and two over Edgar. Should he have lost last night? Maybe. But he's going back to his hotel room with 12 pounds of gold and that's all that matters.
- Anthony Pettis - 2-1 in the UFC with a match-up against Cerrone on the horizon. The winner will likely get the next title shot after Nate Diaz gets a crack at "Smooth."
- Donald Cerrone - Speaking of "Cowboy," he's been the most active fighter to make the transition. Seven fights inside the Octagon and he come up victorious in all but one. Last night was his most impressive showing, surviving an early knockdown against former teammate Guillard and putting "The Young Assassin" to sleep at the 76 second mark.
- Carlos Condit - The last WEC welterweight champion lost his first fight inside the Octagon but has gone on a five fight tear since then and is now the UFC's interim champion. He awaits 170-pound kingpin Georges St. Pierre for a unification bout in late 2012.
- Jamie Varner - Since going 1-1 inside the Octagon half a decade ago, Varner has become a champion, unemployed and the best comeback story in recent memory. He knocked out Edson Barboza on short notice and even though he came up short against Joe Lauzon -- another short notice bout -- he earned tons of credit for putting on one a fantastic fight.
While there are examples of fighters either performing poorly or not as well as the aforementioned fighters -- Shane Roller or Anthony Njokuani, for example -- it was assumed all fighters coming from WEC's blue cage would flounder in the deeper waters of UFC.
But that hasn't been the case.
WEC never die.