With word of Paulo Filho and Jens Pulver going to the WEC, I think it’s time for us to take a few seconds and review what’s happening. The original word from Zuffa was that the WEC would be a ‘competing organization’, on even tread with the UFC. We all smiled and nodded and waited for the WEC to become Zuffa’s farm league. When the UFC sent Joe Riggs to the WEC, I took it as proof that the WEC was where fighters got sent when they couldn’t make it in the big leagues. But now I’m not so sure any more.
It’s still too soon to tell what the fuck Zuffa is doing, but they’re certainly doing something. Moving Jens Pulver to the WEC is good for Jens (because he’s a featherweight fighter anyways), it’s great for the WEC, but it’s not so good for the UFC. The UFC has invested heavily in Jens, giving him the spotlight in this season’s Ultimate Fighter. While the LW division is definately one of the most exciting divisions at the moment, it’s also a total clusterfuck with no established contender list. Past Sean Sherk, Jens Pulver is the only guy with any kind of name outside of the hardcore fan base. So what the hell are they doing giving away one of their best known fighters to the WEC? What is the plan?
My bet is this is all the result of the PRIDE deal going sour. Now that the UFC only has 2 organizations instead of 3, we’re seeing a redistribution of talent across the UFC and WEC. Many Pride fighters will come into the WEC to get some cage seasoning and popularity. I also think you’ll be seeing more UFC fighters switched to the WEC. There’s already ‘contender traffic-jams’ in the UFC’s welterweight and heavyweight division, so it makes sense to even out the talent pool for now.
Do I think it’ll stay like this very long? No. The big issue right now is the influx of talent from other organizations. Once things have been rolling for a year, proper rankings will re-emerge and I think you’ll see the WEC settle into the role of establishing and promoting new talent. Eventually I doubt you’ll ever see a fighter in the UFC who hasn’t gone through the WEC.
Anyways, this is all speculation on my part but it makes sense in my mind. I’d love to hear what you guys think they’re doing, so comment away!