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Thursday, November 06, 2008
Mixed Martial Arts--- Zuffa's Cannibalization of the WEC
Editorial Commentary by Ivan Trembow

It was sad to see Zuffa's cannibalization of the WEC last night at WEC 36. As usual for a WEC event, it was an entertaining night of fights. However, there is no possible explanation of how it was best for the WEC to have the Jake Rosholt vs. Nissen Osterneck fight on the main card, while Donald Cerrone vs. Rob McCullough was a prelim and Rani Yahya vs. Yoshiro Maeda was also a prelim.

Zuffa's whole reason for folding the WEC's light heavyweight and middleweight divisions was ostensibly to avoid anymore embarrassing situations where the fighter who is rightfully the #1 contender didn't have their #1 contender's fight on a WEC main card, or in some cases hasn't even had a fight on a WEC main card (ie, Mike Brown). By having just four weight classes on which to focus in the future, they would be able to hopefully avoid these situations in the future because they'd be able to properly showcase their top contenders and their "#1 contender's fights" on live TV, main card bouts.

So, what happens right off the bat? A fight that is widely regarded by everyone, including the champion, as being a #1 contender's fight --- Cerrone vs. McCullough --- is made a prelim so that they can instead air a fight between two inexperienced middleweights (Rosholt and Osterneck) who have never even fought in the WEC and will also never fight in the WEC again due to the folding of the middleweight division.

That makes absolutely no sense from the WEC's business standpoint. There is no way to rationalize how that is what's best for the WEC. It may be what's best for the UFC at the expense of the WEC if Zuffa wanted to get Rosholt in a main card bout that badly. However, if that's the case, that is blatantly cannibalizing the WEC product, and it's sad. The WEC deserves better than that. Versus deserves better than that, too.

Even without the Cerrone-McCullough fight, it would have still been ridiculous to have Rosholt-Osterneck on the main card in favor of the Yahya-Maeda fight. It's a choice of airing a fight between two top contenders in the bantamweight division, which is a division that the WEC is still going to have in January, or airing a fight between two inexperienced middleweights who were making their WEC debuts and will never fight in the WEC again due to the folding of the middleweight division.

Is this why Versus is paying an increased rights fee for WEC broadcasts starting in 2009? To air a product that Zuffa has turned into a UFC feeder promotion? Taking on fighters who couldn't make it in the UFC (ie, Alex Karalexis) was bad enough, constantly talking about Carlos Condit possibly getting a shot in the big leagues sometime soon (as if his WEC accomplishments are meaningless because they're not in the UFC) was bad enough. At least those things were subtle enough that you had to be paying attention to notice. Now they are just blatantly cannibalizing the WEC product.

On a related note, what was airing on Spike TV at the moment that the WEC broadcast ended (at 11:05 PM Eastern Time)? Why, it was Team Mir urinating in a platter of fruit salad that they hoped the other team would eat on The Ultimate Fighter (... and they did, and it was not even the most disgusting thing on the episode). Congratulations, Ultimate Fighter! With last night's episode, you have sunk lower than the lowest gutter-trash-TV reality series ever has. At least when that women defecated on the stairs on VH-1's "The Flavor of Love," it wasn't mixed into somebody's food and eaten, which is more than I can say for Team Mir's urine or Kyle Kingsbury's semen.

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