When World Extreme Cagefighting and Ultimate Fighting Championship existed as separate entities, the common notion was that WEC fighters were not at the same level as UFC Fighters. First WEC cut their heavier weight classes and a handful of fighters were given UFC Contracts. Then eventually, UFC merged WEC into their fold. Now that the playing field is even, many of the former WEC competitors have proven their worth. Some have wins over strong UFC staples and two former WEC champions are currently UFC Champions. Here are the five WEC fighters who’ve made the biggest impact inside the Octagon.
5) Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone – One of the most exciting fighters in all of MMA, Cowboy is not shy to mix it up, neither inside nor outside the Octagon. He can trash talk and back it up. Cerrone started his UFC career with a 4-0 run. A possible title shot was talked about, until he was derailed in his last fight, a decision loss to Nate Diaz. Still though, Cowboy is a dangerous fighter in the lightweight division. Notable Win: Dennis Siver
4) Anthony “Showtime” Pettis – You might remember Showtime for the highlight kick of 2010. The cage bouncing kick helped him win the WEC lightweight championship guaranteeing him a shot at the UFC title. Then a draw between Edgar and Maynard and a decision loss to Clay Guida spoiled those plans. Since then, Pettis has dominated and is on the footstep of finally getting his UFC title shot. Notable Win: Joe Lauzon.
3) Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz – Munoz steam rolled through the WEC’s light heavyweight division. Unfortunately, his first fight was against the much bigger, more experienced Mark Hamill. Munoz then dropped down to middleweight and went on a tear. Munoz is now a fight away from a title shot. Notable Win: Demian Maia
2) Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit – Since entering the UFC, it seems Condit has made a habit of finishing fighters that are hard to finish. Knocking out Dan Hardy and Dong Hyun Kim. A severe injury to reigning welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, set up a fight for the interim title against Nick Diaz. A fight Condit won and is now a UFC Champion. Notable Win: Nick Diaz
1) Ben Henderson – Bendo’s final fight in the WEC wasn’t his coming out party. Even though it was a Fight of the Year candidate for 2010, it was still a fight where he lost the WEC lightweight championship. He then moved into the UFC mix and has been undefeated ever since. Beating top lightweights like Clay Guida and Jim Miller, he earned a shot at Frankie Edgar’s belt. A fight that he won. Just over a year from losing the WEC title, Ben Henderson stands atop the MMA Lightweight Rankings as the UFC Champion. Notable Win: Frankie Edgar.
It’s amazing to think that anyone would consider these fighters a step below UFC fighters back when they competed on two different shows. I wonder what kind of impact Strikeforce fighters would have if Zuffa were to merge it with the UFC. I, for one, hope it happens sooner than later.