UFC 155 Results: Jamie Varner and the Best Ex-WEC Fighters Currently in the UFC

Matt Juul@@MattchidaMMAContributor IIIDecember 30, 2012

UFC 155 Results: Jamie Varner and the Best Ex-WEC Fighters Currently in the UFC

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    What a year it's been for former WEC lightweight champ Jamie Varner.

    After proving his worth to the UFC by knocking out Edson Barboza as a late replacement at UFC 146, Varner ended his 2012 on a high note with his three-round beatdown of Melvin Guillard at Saturday night's UFC 155.

    Now 2-1 since making his return to the world's largest MMA promotion, the former champ is staking his claim in the lightweight division as he becomes the latest WEC import to find success in the UFC.

    Not surprisingly, a lot of the now-defunct promotion's top alumni have found a ton of success since coming to the big leagues. 

    Check out the top former WEC fighters currently competing in the UFC's Octagon.

17. Jamie Varner

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    The slideshow's featured fighter has flown up the lightweight ranks this year with his trio of impressive performances.

    Not only did Varner finish the red-hot Brazilian prospect Edson Barboza back in May, but the former champ also took home Fight of the Night honors in his August loss to Joe Lauzon at UFC on Fox 4.  

    Now back in the win column with his split-decision victory over Melvin Guillard on Saturday night, Varner is setting himself up nicely for 2013.

    Surprisingly, Varner is one of the few WEC vets not to be included in the UFC's merger with the promotion a few years back.  But due to his heart and determination, the former champ has fought his way back to the big stage and is poised to take the lightweight division by storm.

16. Chan-Sung Jung

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    The Korean Zombie has become one of the sport's most exciting fighters over the past few years.

    After winning over the affection of MMA fans following his all-out brawl with Leonard Garcia in the WEC, Chan-Sung Jung has continued to impress fans with his never-say-die attitude and for his interesting arsenal of finishes.

    Owning a perfect 3-0 record inside the Octagon, the Korean Zombie has finished each of his UFC opponents and all in impressive fashion.  

    Whether it's taking home Submission of the Night honors for landing a Twister in the Garcia rematch or tying the UFC record for the fastest knockout with his KO of the Night winning performance over Mark Hominick, Jung can not only contend with MMA's top 145ers,  he can brutally beat them as well.

    With a title shot likely on the horizon for the Korean Zombie, he is certainly backing up the WEC's claim as being the former home of the world's top lighter weight fighters.

15. Brian Stann

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    Not every WEC import found their way into the UFC through the 2010 merger.

    When Zuffa first purchased the WEC and dissolved its heavier weight classes, many of the promotion's top big guys found a new home in the UFC.  Former WEC light-heavyweight champ Brian Stann happened to be one of them, and he's done a pretty good job since making the move.

    With big wins over the likes of Chris Leben, Jorge Santiago and Alessio Sakara, Stann has proven to be a force since dropping down to middleweight and a great addition to the UFC's roster.

14. Nick and Nate Diaz

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    Many people forget that MMA's leading bad boys Nick and Nate Diaz both had brief stints in the WEC.

    Nick only fought once for the promotion but won the welterweight title in the process, defeating Joe Hurley via a first-round kimura.  Nate actually made his pro debut in the WEC, amassing a 3-1 record for the organization with the lone loss coming to Hermes Franca during their WEC 24 lightweight title battle.

    While it's been years since either Diaz has seen the inside of that blue cage, both have certainly made strides in the UFC, as Nate is recently coming off a tough loss to lightweight champ Benson Henderson and Nick is set to face welterweight king Georges St-Pierre.

    Love 'em or hate 'em, the Diaz brothers have definitely made their mark on the UFC.

13. Mark Munoz

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    Former NCAA wrestling champ Mark Munoz has become one of the heaviest hitters in the UFC's middleweight division.

    Before he was knocking guys out inside the Octagon, "the Filipino Wrecking Machine" was emphatically finishing foes in the WEC.  While only competing twice inside the blue cage, Munoz's two WEC bouts both culminated into first-round KO wins for the former All-American.

    Despite a recent setback loss to Chris Weidman, another big finish can get Munoz right back into title contention.

12. Chad Mendes

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    Where the WEC really shined was with it's lighter weight divisions...especially the 145ers.

    One of the top featherweights to emerge from the now-defunct promotion has to be Team Alpha Male product Chad Mendes.

    Going a perfect 4-0 during his WEC tenure, Mendes sustained his undefeated streak through his first year in the UFC, winning his first two bouts inside the Octagon to earn a shot at the champ Jose Aldo.  Despite failing to capture the title, Mendes has rebounded nicely with back-to-back knockout wins.

    Even without the belt, Mendes is still one of the most dangerous lighter weight WEC alums.

11. Donald Cerrone

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    Another feisty WEC vet to find success inside the Octagon has to be Donald Cerrone.

    "The Cowboy" kicked off his UFC career with a bang, winning his first four out of five fights, all occurring in 2011.  

    Always a gamer, Cerrone can get make a great case for a third shot at Benson Henderson if he's able to extend his winning streak with a victory over Anthony Pettis early next year.

10. Joseph Benavidez

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    One of many lighter-weight imports to find success in the UFC, the former WEC bantamweight title challenger has continued his quest for a championship now that he's in the world's largest MMA promotion.

    Another Team Alpha Male product who's yearning for a UFC crown, Benavidez has been a dominant force at 135 and now 125, but still has yet to capture a title.  Just barely getting out-decisioned by Demetrious Johnson in their flyweight fight, Benavidez is still one of the top three guys in the division.

    Regardless, the fact that he's been able to consistently take on high-level opponents shows just how skilled this WEC alum really is.

9. Urijah Faber

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    The original Team Alpha Male poster boy, former WEC champ Urijah Faber is another top-level import from the now-defunct promotion.

    While he's also come up short in his most recent title shots, there are few former champs and rising challengers that can match Faber's skills and credentials.

    With his history as the WEC's longest reigning champion, I am sure that "The California Kid" has at least one more title run in him and may be able to finally take home that UFC strap.

8. Anthony Pettis

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    One of the most hyped-up imports to come from the WEC has to be the promotion's last lightweight champ, Anthony Pettis.

    While his stock has dipped a little bit since his WEC days, Pettis is still one of the most dangerous 155ers in the game today, and a win over Cerrone early next year may place him at the front of the title-shot line.

    As the last man to defeat UFC champ Benson Henderson, this is a rematch I definitely would like to see.

7. Chael Sonnen

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    That's right, MMA's most vocal personality is also an alum of the famed blue cage.

    Going 3-1 in the WEC, Chael Sonnen's most memorable performances for the promotion came in his pair of bouts against former WEC champ Paulo Filho.  

    Despite losing via armbar in their first meeting and Filho failing to make weight in their second fight, Sonnen would emerge from their rematch victorious and pretty much won his way back into the UFC.

    Sonnen's made the most during his second stint with the UFC, nearly taking the middleweight title from Anderson Silva at UFC 117 and now serving as a coach on TUF opposite light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones.

    Not too shabby for the former WEC vet.

6. Renan Barao

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    In order to be considered among the best of the WEC imports, one thing that will land you near the top five is owning a UFC belt.

    If his almost 30-fight winning streak wasn't enough, former WEC bantamweight Renan Barao has cemented himself as a top 135er following his interim championship bout victory over Urijah Faber.  

    With wins over some of the top bantamweights in the sport, Barao has a great chance at becoming one of the top lighter weight fighters in MMA history.

    A title defense over Michael McDonald early next year will definitely solidify his No. 2 ranking within the division.

5. Carlos Condit

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    Despite coming up short against UFC champ Georges St-Pierre, former interim champ Carlos Condit is still one of the most dangerous WEC imports fighting inside the Octagon today.

    Condit, a former three-time defending WEC welterweight champ, has translated this success into the UFC, owning wins over top 170ers such as Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy and Nick Diaz.

    With 26 finishes out of 28 career bouts, Condit is definitely one of the most dangerous finishers in the UFC.

4. Demetrious Johnson

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    While flyweights never got a chance to shine inside the famed blue cage, former WEC bantamweight Demetrious Johnson isn't fretting too much now that he's the UFC's 125-lb. champion.

    Owning wins over WEC vets such Miguel Torres and Damacio Page, Johnson was unable to take the UFC 135-lb. crown in his title fight against Dominick Cruz.  

    However, since dropping down to flyweight, Johnson's speed and explosiveness has been enhanced even further and helped win "Mighty Mouse" the inaugural 125-lb. title.

3. Dominick Cruz

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    Few WEC imports have had more success in the UFC than bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz.

    "The Dominator" has a nearly unblemished record highlighted by big wins over nearly every top lighter weight fighter, including former and current champs such as Urijah Faber, Demetrious Johnson and Brian Bowles.  

    He's also beaten a ton of top challengers including Joseph Benavidez, Scott Jorgensen and Ian McCall.

    While the champ recently suffered a pretty big setback, as an ACL injury will force Cruz out of action for almost another year, his resume speaks for itself and solidifies his status as a top-three WEC import.

2. Jose Aldo

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    There are few fighters out there who can match UFC champ Jose Aldo's deadly and dominant fight game.

    Easily taking out every challenger to his WEC crown, Aldo hasn't had to sweat too much now that he's defending a UFC belt. 

    Owning wins over the likes of Urijah Faber, Kenny Florian and Chad Mendes, a win over former UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar at next year's UFC 156 will only further cement his standing on the pound-for-pound rankings.

    There's only one other WEC import who can outdo Aldo's resume, however...

1. Benson Henderson

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    UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson has emerged as one of the most dominant forces to come out of the WEC and, if he keeps winning, is poised to go down as one of the best lightweights in MMA history.

    Despite losing his WEC crown to Anthony Pettis at the promotion's final show in 2010, "Smooth" rebounded in a huge way since coming to the UFC, winning all six of his fights and taking the 155-lb. crown in the process.

    Owning a pair of wins against former champ Frankie Edgar and successfully defending his title against Nate Diaz, Henderson has dominated in almost every single one of his UFC bouts.

    If he can take out the likes of a Gilbert Melendez or another top five lightweight, there's no question that Henderson will go down as the best WEC import and maybe the top 155er of all time.

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