Photo by Tracy Lee via Combat Lifestyle
During today's big announcement, Dana White promised that the UFC would be keeping all the fighters on the WEC roster they would also be keeping the WEC employees.
"Every WEC employee is staying with the UFC. We have so much work to do that nobody is going to be sitting around," said White on the conference call.
MMA Weekly spoke to one of those employees, WEC founder and current general manager Reed Harris:
"To be honest, today, I'm really proud of what we did, man. And Dana's proud of what we did. We were so successful that the UFC had no other option than to bring these guys in and put them in their show," he said.
"The UFC is obviously by miles the largest MMA organization in the world. The WEC built these divisions to a point where they are now going to be featured on the largest stage in MMA. Dana and Lorenzo and Frank are obviously extremely happy about what we were doing. This was a huge success."
Harris took on the role of general manager of the WEC after Zuffa's purchase. That job will now cease to exist, but Harris will emerge through all of this with a new role in the UFC once they close the WEC's doors.
"I could talk about it, I just don't want to yet," he said of his new position. "I want to focus on the WEC until the end of the year and keep the focus on these fights. The importance of these fights is magnified exponentially.
Harris also spoke to MMA Junkie:
"All along, our goal was to really build and have people identify with the lighter-weight fighters," Harris said.
"We worked really hard on that, and like (UFC president) Dana White said, it's just time (to merge) with the expansion of the UFC and expanding into international markets.
Harris said he's actually been somewhat pleased by MMA pundits' calls for a merger between the two promotions. While the WEC hasn't been able to match the viewership and attendance numbers of the UFC, the smaller promotion's fighters delivered with in-cage performances that often eclipsed those of their UFC counterparts.
"The thing that I'm most proud of is that no one has argued with me that these guys aren't ready to go to that next level," Harris said. "Everyone is saying Jose Aldo, Urijah Faber, Dominick Cruz, all these guys are ready to show their skills on the world's biggest stage, which is the UFC."
Keeping Harris and his team around is a very smart move by Zuffa.
The WEC folks have shown again and again that they can produce an extremely high quality fight event for television. From soup to nuts, these guys know the business of fight production. They can assess talent, negotiate with managers, they can do match-making, they can manage on-air talent, they can manage a production team, they can transport and build a cage and set up an arena.
I've heard repeatedly throughout the last year that the UFC production team is completely exhausted. Traveling to London and pulling off UFC 120 and then traveling to California to produce UFC 121 in one week's time is utterly exhausting. The UFC team has been maintaining that hell-bent-for-leather pace all year long. Hell, they were working at that pace in 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006 too.
The WEC team will provide some much needed relief and reinforcement for an overworked and exhausted UFC team. I really have to hand it to Dana White and Zuffa, they have been executing their day-to-day tactical challenges nearly flawlessly while also making bold and brilliant strategic moves.