Could Re-Signing Urijah Faber Force Zuffa To Merge the UFC & WEC?

Nate DoubleAnalyst ISeptember 30, 2009

Negotiations with star athletes are always interesting.  During the negotiation process, either the athlete or the organization can quickly become the villain by demanding too much or by offering too little.

In the current court of public opinion Urijah Faber is an underpaid hero.  Despite two losses to current featherweight champion Mike Brown, Faber's star and drawing power remain undiminished.

This is clearly something that is being considered by his management during this round of negotiations with Zuffa.

The WEC is televised on Versus, a hodgepodge outdoor life, hockey, Tour de France, combat sports channel.  Recently, DIRECTV dropped Versus programming, further limiting the WEC's exposure.

One striking statistic is that WEC cards held in California that feature Faber do over twice the attendance number and nearly three times the total gate as non-Faber cards.  That is a huge feather in Faber's cap.

With Strikeforce putting on the majority of its shows in California, the "California Kid" would be a huge draw for their gate attendance.  The fact that Faber is also the best known fighter in the WEC would add star power to their broadcast and PPV cards as well.

While Strikeforce doesn't have a featherweight division yet, the willingness to co-promote could provide for some interesting matchups with fighters from other promotions.

The WEC certainly has the deepest roster at 145 lbs but as we saw with the signing of Fedor Emelianenko, Strikeforce isn't going to wait around to make fights.  If Brett Rogers proves to be a draw fighting Fedor, why not Faber versus Joe Warren or Kid Yamamoto?

Unless Zuffa is willing to have Faber fight exclusively in California so they can cut him in on the gate revenues, I think Zuffa will find it difficult to meet Faber's salary and exposure requirements.

That is unless they finally decide to do bring over the featherweight and bantamweight divisions to the UFC.  Given the ever increasing number of UFC PPVs and the constant scramble to find suitable headliners for these cards, this scenario makes more sense every day.