Nearly three years have passed since the final event in World Extreme Cagefighting came and went.
WEC 53 featured electric fights, including Benson Henderson vs. Anthony "Showtime" Pettis, and sent the promotion out on as high a note as possible. Then again, every WEC event seemed to deliver a level of exhilaration and intrigue not found elsewhere (or at least not found so consistently).
Nearly three years since the UFC absorbed the WEC and its roster, we look back on the fights that defined the promotion. But since one fight would not suffice in summing up the WEC's terrific run, we picked nine.
Here are the nine best fights in the history of the WEC.
Long before bantamweights—or any lighter weight class, for that matter—competed in the UFC, Miguel Torres was king of the 135-pound division. And his epic clash against Yoshiro Maeda back in 2008 was one of the most entertaining fights in WEC history.
Torres looked to defend his belt against Maeda, and he was successful after the third round came to a close. The referee called the fight due to a broken orbital bone, and Torres was declared the winner. But not before the two put on three terrific rounds of action.
Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber, arguably the two biggest stars of the WEC, met in the main event of WEC 48 in a fight that Aldo won via unanimous decision. Though the fight was not the greatest in WEC history, it was historic due to the fact that it served as the first-ever WEC pay-per-view headliner.
Since the five-round scuffle, Aldo and Faber have gone on to become even bigger stars thanks to the UFC spotlight.
Before there was a rematch, there was the original. At WEC 38, Jamie Varner looked to defend his title against Donald Cerrone, and though the fight ended in controversy, it was a fantastic brawl nonetheless. Cerrone started off slow, but as the rounds wore on, "Cowboy" gained momentum. He put on a strong performance in the third and fourth rounds, but then controversy hit.
The fight was stopped in the middle of the fifth and final round due to an illegal knee. When Varner was unable to continue, the judges submitted their scorecards up until that point. Varner earned the anticlimactic split decision, although Cerrone appeared to be cruising to a decision win had the fifth round not expired prematurely.
Regardless of the ending, Varner vs. Cerrone I was one of the best fights of 2009 and one of the best in WEC history.
Leonard Garcia's all-out war against "The Korean Zombie" was the perfect lead-in to the WEC's PPV debut. The fight lasted the full 15 minutes as Garcia and Jung willingly engaged in a fierce battle.
Neither appeared to gain much of an upper hand during the three rounds, but fans didn't mind—they were witnessing arguably the greatest fight in WEC history. The contest didn't mean much, and Garcia's split-decision win didn't mean much either. But the war between Garcia and TKZ will go down as one of the WEC's finest fights.
These two hated each other, and WEC fans couldn't wait until they would finally settle their differences in a rematch. Varner earned the win in the first meeting, and Cerrone was eager to exact his revenge.
While their first matchup was terrific, the second one was even more entertaining (due to the bad blood), and the pair battered each other for 15 straight minutes. Cerrone would earn the unanimous-decision win, but both fighters earned Fight of the Night bonuses.
In what would eventually become one of the greatest rivalries in WEC history, Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson first met at WEC 43 back in 2009. The contest was for the interim title at 155 pounds, and the two lightweights put on an absolute show.
Cerrone attempted submission after submission, and Henderson continuously worked his way out of troublesome situations. After 25 minutes of action, "Bendo" was declared the winner. The two would meet again at WEC 48, but their clash at WEC 43 is the one worth looking back on from time to time.
Before Carlos Condit was a top UFC welterweight, he ruled over the WEC's 170-pound division. At WEC 35, he met Hiromitsu Miura in the final welterweight fight in WEC history. Though the fight was close and Condit was floored in the fourth round, he managed to score a late technical-knockout win, capping off the WEC welterweight division's run with a bang.
In front of his hometown fans in Chicago, Miguel Torres met challenger Takeya Mizugaki in a 135-pound title fight. The fight was exciting and dramatic, and Torres had never been so close to being finished in his WEC career; a cut on his forehead was almost bad enough to warrant a stoppage. But the East Chicago native would survive and go on to capture the unanimous-decision win.
In honor of Pettis' win over Henderson at UFC 164 (spoiler alert), we bring you Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis I. This gem of a five-round brawl served as the final fight in WEC history, and boy, was it a sendoff.
The two lightweights fought very competitively for the first four-and-half rounds. Then, out of nowhere, Pettis landed the "Showtime Kick," sealing his opponent's fate and earning him a decision win.
That kick will be played in highlight reels and opening clips for a long, long time, and it was a fitting end to a promotion we will always remember.