As much as the UFC denies that the Zuffa-owned World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) promotion is not a farm system, it's hard not to view it as one.
UFC fighter Joe Riggs (25-9) — who suffered a disappointing first-round knockout loss to Diego Sanchez (17-0) in late 2006 — is scheduled to fight in the promotion's second show under Zuffa ownership on March 24, according to MMAWeekly.com.
His opponent has not been named.
Riggs' eight-fight tenure in the UFC has been plagued by inconsistency (4-4). The switch to the WEC can only be considered as a demotion — one that keeps a promising fighter on the Zuffa payroll without losing him to a competitor.
"Diesel" is the former WEC middleweight champion — a title he had to vacate to fight Chris Lytle at UFC 55 in 2005 (Riggs won that fight via technical knockout). In recent fights it's been clear that Riggs has been outclassed, especially by superior competition.
Hopefully, the WEC stint will help him refine his game so he can soon return to the Octagon.
In addition, middleweight Jason "Mayhem" Miller (17-5) — a key acquisition in the World Fighting Alliance (WFA) deal — will make his WEC debut that same evening in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Several readers have been wondering about the status of Miller — a colorful personality that has a large, cult-like following of loyal monkeys, er, fans. Oh, by the way, he's also a talented fighter.
I can only speculate that the reason Miller is fighting in the WEC and not the UFC is because of his nonexclusive contract, which allows him to fight for Icon Sport.
Once he fulfills that obligation, and racks up some wins in the WEC, I can only hope that he returns to the Octagon.