World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) was one of the most intense and competitive mixed martial arts promotions in the world. Founded in 2001 by partners Reed Harris and Scott Adams, WEC held most of its events in southern California. It was unique for its smaller cage, which forced competitors into more direct and powerful confrontations.
WEC was a niche promoter, limited to a fairly localized area and Internet-based event broadcasting. However, its profile was raised in 2006, when it was purchased by the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which had by then grown into the world’s premier MMA promotion.
After its acquisition by the UFC, a number of prominent rule changes transformed the face of WEC. Its trademark five-sided cage was replaced by the standard-shaped but smaller octagon, and its light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions were dissolved. WEC became a showcase for fighters in lighter weight classes.
Under the UFC banner, WEC found its way onto cable television. Its live events were initially broadcast on Versus, the precursor of the NBC Sports Network. WEC also added a flyweight division, in which competitors were limited to fighting weights of 125 pounds or less. Its best-rated TV broadcast on Versus earned an impressive 1.5 million viewers.
By 2010, WEC had found enough of an audience to merit its first pay-per-view television special, with a main event of Jose Aldo against Urijah Faber. Over the course of WEC’s 10-year history, Faber was the outfit’s top draw, attracting an average of 840,000 viewers when he appeared in feature matches. Six months after the WEC’s inaugural PPV event, UFC president Dana White announced that WEC’s weight classes would be absorbed by its parent organization. World Extreme Cagefighting is now fully under the UFC’s umbrella, and no longer exists as a separate entity. However, MMA fans fondly remember World Extreme Cagefighting for its raw intensity.