UFC 144: Benson Henderson and the 20 Best from the WEC

Nedu ObiAnalyst IIFebruary 24, 2012

UFC 144: Benson Henderson and the 20 Best from the WEC

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    At UFC 144, former WEC lightweight titlist Benson Henderson will attempt to achieve what B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard could not—upend Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and, in the process, capture (or recapture) UFC gold.

    When the UFC purchased World Extreme Cagefighting back in 2006, it also acquired the services of the organization's combatants. Some of those fighters went on to scale the heights of the Zuffa-based company. Others have either not fared that well or just simply fallen by the wayside.

    Here’s a look at the best that the WEC has had to offer the UFC.

20. Nick Diaz

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    Current UFC Record: 7-5

    WEC Record: 1-0 

    Nick Diaz could’ve been way higher than this, save for the fact that he only fough in the WEC once, and that was for the welterweight title, which he won and then relinquished before heading to the UFC.

    In Diaz’s first stint for the Zuffa-based organization, he amassed a 6-4 record, with notable victories over the likes of Jeremy Jackson (twice) and Robbie Lawler.

    Following a successful period at Strikeforce where he captured the 170-lb crown, the Stockton, Calif., native made his second foray into the Ultimate Fighting Championship—defeating two-division titlist B.J. Penn and recently losing a hotly contested decision to Carlos Condit at UFC 143.

    That bout was for the interim welterweight crown as well as the No. 1 contendership to Georges St-Pierre’s belt.

19. Brandon Vera

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    Current UFC Record: 8-5-1NC

    WEC Record: 2-0

    “The Truth” won the WEC heavyweight tourney in only his second fight before pulling up stakes and heading for the UFC.

    Great things were expected of Vera (to be honest, he sounded his own trumpet)—initially he went 4-0, taking the scalp of one Frank Mir along the way, and just like that he imploded.

    Defeats from Tim Sylvia, Fabricio Werdum, Keith Jardine, Randy Couture and finally current 205-lb champion Jon “Bones” Jones put down any thoughts he had of being a force to be reckoned with.

    A further loss to Thiago Silva resulted in his release from the company; however, he was subsequently reinstated following the latter failing a postfight drug test.

18. Mike Brown

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    Current UFC Record: 1-2

    WEC Record: 6-2

    The former WEC featherweight champion upended Urijah Faber twice—once for the title and secondly while defending it. However, in his third defense he came a cropper when Jose Aldo ripped the title from his grasp.

    Mike Brown would have three more fights for the promotion prior to testing himself in MMA’s elite organization—losing his first two outings to Diego Nunes and Rani Yahya via decision.

    The 36-year-old was victorious in his last bout, which more or less saved him from the chop.

17. Brian Stann

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    Current UFC Record: 5-3

    WEC Record: 5-1

    The former Marine captured the WEC light heavyweight title in his sixth professional fight, but lost it in his first defense.

    Following that defeat, Stann registered his second trouncing—a first-round submission loss to Krzysztof Soszynski in his debut at UFC 97.

    From there, Stann scored two victories and a loss (to Phil Davis). But he found real success after dropping to middleweight, where he went on a three-fight winning streak against Mike Massenzio, Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago.

    At UFC 136, though, that streak came to an end, courtesy of Chael Sonnen.

16. Mark Muñoz

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    Current UFC Record: 7-2

    WEC Record: 2-0

    “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” entered the UFC fray in March 2009, and has names like Demian Maia and Chris Leben in his win column.

    Not so long ago, Muñoz had an opportunity to vie for Anderson Silva’s middleweight crown. However, that went up in smoke when he was forced to pull out of a projected title eliminator bout with Chael Sonnen following an injury sustained whilst training.

15. Scott Jorgensen

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    Current UFC Record: 2-1

    WEC Record: 7-3

    The bantamweight is currently ranked No. 5 in his division. A former NCAA Division I wrestler, Jorgensen has notable wins against the likes of Antonio Banuelos, Brad Pickett and Jeff Curran.

    Thus far, his sole defeat in the UFC was attributed to a Renan Barão by way of unanimous decision.

14. Chael Sonnen

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    Current UFC Record: 6-4

    WEC Record: 3-1

    Chael Sonnen, the arch-nemesis of UFC 185-pound titlist Anderson Silva, had two stints in the WEC and is currently having a second spell in the Zuffa-based organization.

    Following an unsuccessful try for Silva’s belt, Sonnen was banned for failed a postfight drug test. On his return to the Octagon, he scored two successive victories against Brian Stann and most recently Michael Bisping.

13. Miguel Torres

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    Current UFC Record: 2-1

    WEC Record: 6-2

    Prior to his first loss in 2003, Miguel Torres had been riding a 19-fight winning streak. He followed that up with 17 more uninterrupted victories all the way into the WEC.

    It was there that he won the division’s bantamweight title, and to boot was triumphant in his three defenses. In his next outing, the BJJ expert lost the title to Brian Bowles and next suffered a defeat to Joseph Benavidez.

    One fight later, Torres was in the UFC plying his trade, and has thus far only lost once—Demetrious Johnson via unanimous decision.

    In December of 2011, Torres was released by the company due to a quote posted on his Twitter page which was deemed inappropriate. However, he was later reinstated and is slated to face off with Michael McDonald at UFC 145.

12. Brian Bowles

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    Current UFC Record: 2-1

    WEC Record: 5-1

    The former WEC bantamweight titlist has won one knockout and two submission of the night honors in the World Extreme Cagefighting organization. He also scored a submission of the night honor on his debut for the UFC.

    Brian Bowles has two losses on his record—one to Dominick Cruz in the WEC and the other to Urijah Faber in the UFC.

11. Anthony Pettis

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    Current UFC Record: 1-1

    WEC Record: 5-1

    Mr. “Showtime” makes the No. 11 slot for the sole fact that he has a whole lot of promise, even if he’s failed to realize it to this point.

    Pettis won the WEC lightweight title by defeating Benson Henderson, while cementing his name in MMA lore with his "Showtime" kick to the face of the latter.

    Following that fight he ended up on the losing side for the second time in his career—a loss in his debut for the UFC, courtesy of Clay Guida.

    By the end of the year, Pettis could be in the top five of WEC exports to the Zuffa-based organization, especially if he takes care of Joe Lauzon at UFC 144 in Japan.

10. Joseph Benavidez

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    Current UFC Record: 2-0

    WEC Record: 5-2

    Prior to coming to the UFC, Joseph Benavidez had scored victories over the likes of Jeff Curan, Rani Yahya and Miguel Torres, who at the time resided in the WEC. However, in the same organization, he was also the victim of a double defeat to reigning UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

    Thus far, his tenure in the UFC has gone smoothly.

9. Donald Cerrone

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    Current UFC Record: 4-1

    WEC Record: 6-3 (1 NC)

    Donald Cerrone contested the WEC interim and lightweight titles twice, losing on both occasions to Benson Henderson. That said, "Cowboy" had five fight of the night honors in the company.

    In the UFC he also garnered two fight of the night honors—a win over Paul Kelly and a loss in his recent outing against Nate Diaz.

    Prior to that defeat, Cerrone was on a four-fight tear, with a potential lightweight shot in the offing.

8. Demetrious Johnson

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    Current UFC Record: 2-1

    WEC Record: 2-1

    Demetrious Johnson has UFC victories over Norifumi Yamamoto and Miguel Torres; however, in his first and only shot at the UFC bantamweight title, Johnson came up short by way of unanimous decision to Dominick Cruz.

    The 25-year-old former WEC resident is now set to make his flyweight debut at UFC on FX 2 later this year.

7. Chad Mendes

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    Current UFC Record: 2-1

    WEC Record: 4-0

    The Team Alpha Male featherweight went on a five-fight winning streak and continued to record routs in the WEC before settling down in the UFC, where he scored two unanimous decision wins over Michihiro Omigawa and Rani Yahya.

    The biggest test facing Chad Mendes, was the division's indomitable champion— featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo.

    With the wrestling tools Mendes had at his disposal, he was expected to give the Brazilian all he could handle and then some. Unfortunately, he was no match for Aldo, and lost by first-round KO.

6. Urijah Faber

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    Current UFC Record:  2-1

    WEC Record: 9-3

    “The California Kid” won the WEC featherweight title in his first outing for the company. He went on to defend the title five times over a two-year period before being unseated by Mike Brown in 2008. He was also defeated by Brown in their rematch.

    In the UFC, Faber has been victorious against Eddie Wineland and most recently Brian Bowles. His one loss was to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, someone he once defeated whilst defending his WEC 145-pound crown.

5. Renan Barão

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    Current UFC Record: 3-0

    WEC Record: 3-0

    Barão is riding an incredible 29-fight undefeated streak. The 25-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner has notable wins against Cole Escovedo, Brad Pickett and Scott Jorgensen.

    Barão is currently ranked No. 3 in MMA’s bantamweight division and a threat to both Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber.

4. Benson Henderson

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    Current UFC Record: 3-0

    WEC Record: 5-1

    Benson Henderson heads into UFC 144 to contest the lightweight title currently held by Frankie Edgar. En route to said championship, “Smooth” has taken the scalps of Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and Clay Guida.

    During his WEC tenure, Henderson captured the interim 145-pound crown by defeating Donald Cerrone. He went on to unify the championship when he upended Jamie Varner, before making a successful defense against Cerrone.

    However, in his next defense, he was defeated by Anthony Pettis in a match that earned fight of the night honors.

3. Carlos Condit

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    Current UFC Record: 5-1

    WEC Record: 5-0

    “The Natural Born Killer” is a former WEC welterweight titlist, with all his wins in the organization coming by way of stoppage. Condit also successfully defended the title four times.

    After losing a split decision to Martin Kampmann on his UFC debut, Condit went on to defeat Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy and Dong-Hyun Kim.

    At UFC 143, the Greg Jackson-trained fighter captured the 170-lb interim title by defeating Nick Diaz. That win now puts him on course for an eventual encounter with the division’s perennial champion Georges St-Pierre.

2. Dominick Cruz

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    Current UFC Record: 2-0

    WEC Record: 7-1

    Dominick Cruz is without a doubt one of the WEC’s finest exports to the UFC.

    Although he failed in his attempt to usurp Urijah Faber as the company’s featherweight champion, he did defeat the likes of Joseph Benavidez (twice), Scott Jorgensen and Brian Bowles (for the WEC bantamweight title).

    In his UFC debut, he successfully defended his 135-pound belt via a unanimous decision win over Faber and is next slated to lock horns with him again in a trilogy battle at UFC 148.

1. Jose Aldo

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    Current UFC Record: 3-0

    WEC Record: 8-0

    “Scarface” is widely regarded as the best featherweight of his era, and for good reason. He has literally proven unbeatable in both the WEC and UFC. 

    The former WEC and current UFC 145-pounder's fight résumé includes victories over Mike Brown, Urijah Faber, Mark Hominick, Kenny Florian and Chad Mendes.

    Aldo’s only defeat on his record was a submission loss to Luciano Azevedo, and that was contested at lightweight back in 2005.

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