The End Of An Era: The 10 Most Important Moments In WEC History

Andrew GladstoneCorrespondent INovember 10, 2010

The End Of An Era: The 10 Most Important Moments In WEC History

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    Courtesy of Zuffa
    Courtesy of Zuffa

    World Extreme Cagefighting started back in 2001 and was started by Scott Adams and Reed Harris.

    For years, they were one of the few organizations around the world that featured the lighter weight classes.

    Towards the end of 2006, the history of the WEC would change forever as Zuffa purchased the organization and would finally bring attention to fighters in the smaller weight classes.

    In 2008, the UFC would begin merging the WEC's welterweight, middleweight, and light heavyweight divisions into the organization.

    Most recently, UFC president Dana White announced that the WEC would merge all the rest of it's weight classes into the UFC and give the fighters in the lighter weights even more publicity and recognition.

    These are the top 10 most important moments in WEC history.

WEC Aligns With Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino To Host Early Events

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    Leemore, California is where World Extreme Cagefighting got it's first start.

    Originally the WEC was just a regional show, that was backed by the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, but with the help of the Tachi Palace the WEC was able to get their foot in the MMA landscape.

Cole Escovedo Becomes First Champion In WEC History

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    Couresy of Sherdog
    Couresy of Sherdog

    At a time where featherweights were virtually a rare commodity in the United States, Cole Escovedo not only became the first featherweight champion, but the first champion in the history of the WEC.

    Back in 2002, Escovedo defeated Philip Perez via triangle choke to become the first champion in WEC history. 

The Legendary Frank Shamrock Becomes First WEC Light Heavyweight Champion

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    One of Frank Shamrock's many titles, was when he became the first light heavyweight champion in WEC history when he defeated Bryan Pardoe in 2003 via armbar.

    While Pardoe is not an elite fighter, the fact that a legend like Frank Shamrock was there in the early stages of the organization, is a very important fact that should not be forgotten in the MMA history books.

    Shamrock being a part of the organization in it's infant stages certainly helped boost the WEC's popularity.

Urijah Faber Makes His WEC Debut

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    The most important fighter in the history of the WEC, "The California Kid" Urijah Faber made his debut at WEC 19 and defeated Cole Escovedo via TKO in round 2.

    At the time Urijah was bouncing around organizations, but proved himself to be the top featherweight in the United States at the time.  

Zuffa Purchases The WEC

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    Courtesy of Zuffa
    Courtesy of Zuffa

    In 2006, Zuffa purchased World Extreme Cagefighting and has brought a tremendous amount of attention to the organization since.

    Over the course of time, Zuffa put more emphasis on the WEC being an organization solely on the lighter weight classes, to give talents like Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres the spotlight they deserve.

WEC Airs On Cable Television For The First Time

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    Courtesy of Versus
    Courtesy of Versus

    The first WEC event to air on cable television was "WEC 28: WrekCage" when Urijah Faber defended his featherweight title against Chance Ferrar.

    World Extreme Cagefighting debuted on the cable channel Versus in 2007, the WEC did not disappoint with a very exciting card.

    Even not being a known commodity, with the help of Versus and Zuffa, the WEC pulled a share of 416,000 viewers in their first event on cable.

WEC Merges WW, MW, and LHW Divisions Into The UFC

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    Courtesy of Zuffa
    Courtesy of Zuffa

    Towards the end of 2008, Zuffa decided to have the WEC put more focus on the lighter weight classes.

    So Zuffa moved the WEC's welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight divisions into the UFC.

Urijah Faber Vs. Jens Pulver Delivers Highest Ratings In WEC History

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    In June of 2008, the WEC achieved it's highest ratings on television with over 1,500,000 viewers tuning into "WEC 34: Faber vs. Pulver".

    Not only did the fight have an incredible amount of viewers, it is one of the best fights in the history of the WEC.

WEC's First And Only Pay-Per-View Event

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    Courtesy of Zuffa
    Courtesy of Zuffa

    In April of this year, "WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber" proved without a doubt to be one of the best events this year and did had over 300,000 pay-per-view buys.

    Perhaps what converted fans to buy the pay-per-view the most was when the preliminaries aired on Spike TV with Leonard Garcia and Chang Sung Jung engaging in one of the most memorable wars in MMA history.

    It was on this night, Aldo solidified himself as the best featherweight in the world when he dominated Faber and the WEC put on an incredibly exciting fight card.

Dana White Announces WEC/UFC Merger

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    This slide should probably come to no surprise to anyone.

    As we all know now from UFC President Dana White's announcement, that the WEC bantamweight and featherweight champions will now be known as UFC champions.

    Also, whoever is the WEC lightweight champion after Anthony Pettis vs. Ben Henderson will take on the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard.

    All of the fighters will make more money and truly get the attention and respect they deserve as fighters with the UFC behind them.