15 Best Former WEC Fighters in the UFC

Jeffrey McKinneyContributor IIIDecember 24, 2011

15 Best Former WEC Fighters in the UFC

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    Christmas is less than 24 hours away and MMA fans have received many gifts over the past year. 

    One of the best gifts they received last year was knowing that WEC fighters would get their chance to perform in the UFC.

    World Extreme Cagefighting had been around since 2001. But after Zuffa purchased the California-based MMA company in 2006, the WEC focused more on lighter weight divisions.

    Fighters like Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber became household names in the WEC and carried their talents into the UFC this year.

    Here's a look a some of the other WEC guys who have become top fighters in the UFC.  

Honorable Mentions

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    Nick Diaz: In just his eighth MMA fight, Diaz became the first WEC welterweight champion. At the time, the WEC was still in its early stages, and Diaz would vacate the title shortly after winning it. Because the bout was his only WEC fight, Diaz fell short of this list.

    Brandon Vera: Before Vera's hype train started in the UFC, he won a heavyweight tournament at WEC 13. Vera would go on to win four straight following the tournament. He has since gone 4-5 (1). 

    Mike Brown: Brown is a former WEC featherweight champ who holds two wins over Urijah Faber. Since losing the title to Jose Aldo, Brown has gone 3-3, defeating Nam Phan in his last fight. 

    Miguel Torres: Torres was one of the greatest fighters not just in the WEC, but MMA as a whole. Torres is a former bantamweight champion who was looking to climb back up the rankings since coming to the UFC. Torres was recently released from the UFC after some comments he made on Twitter. 

Brian Stann

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    Before coming to the UFC, Brian Stann made a name for himself in the WEC. 

    Six of his first seven fights took place in the organization.

    While there, Stann won five of his fights, each by (T)KO, and captured the WEC light heavyweight title. 

    Since leaving the WEC, Stann has gone 5-3 and has become one of the top middleweights in the UFC. 

Scott Jorgensen

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    Scott Jorgensen was one of the top bantamweights when he fought in the WEC. 

    After fighting his way to the top, Jorgensen got a shot at Dominick Cruz' bantamweight title. 

    Jorgensen fell short, though, losing the bout by unanimous decision. 

    Jorgensen has since gone 2-0 in the UFC and could be close to a title shot if he gets a win over Renan Barao at UFC 143. 

Demetrious Johnson

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    "Mighty Mouse" Demetrious Johnson may have been undersized for the WEC's bantamweight division, but he still made an impact. 

    Johnson went 2-1 in the organization, only losing his debut. 

    Johnson went on to win two more in the UFC before becoming Dominick Cruz's latest victim. 

    Despite the loss, Johnson is back in the title picture, as he will take place in a four-man tournament to determine the UFC's first flyweight champion. 

Brian Bowles

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    Brian Bowles scored one of the most shocking victories in WEC history when he knocked out Miguel Torres to win the bantamweight title. 

    In his final WEC fight, Bowles lost the title to Dominick Cruz after a doctor stopped the fight because he suffered a broken hand. 

    Bowles was 8-1 following the loss. He added two more victories to his record before losing to Urijah Faber at UFC 139. 

Joseph Benavidez

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    Joseph Benavidez shares a similar fate as other bantamweights on this list. 

    Benavidez had great success in the WEC and worked his way up to a title fight against Dominick Cruz. 

    Despite being undersized, Benavidez got there not once, but twice. 

    The second time Benavidez lost by split decision. The two losses to Cruz are Benavidez's only two losses of his career. 

    Benavidez has won each of his UFC fights and now finds himself in a tournament to determine the first UFC flyweight champion. 

Donald Cerrone

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    The guy who's had the most success following the WEC/UFC merger is Donald Cerrone. 

    Cerrone had a good run in the WEC, where he earned five "Fight of the Night" bonuses and fought for the lightweight title three times. 

    Although he fell short, Cerrone still remained one of the WEC's best. 

    Cerrone has stayed very active since coming to the UFC. He's had four fights so far this year and has won them all. 

    He will have a chance to win a fifth one as he takes on Nate Diaz at UFC 141. 

Mark Munoz

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    Another fighter who had a great 2011 is Mark Munoz. 

    Although he only had two WEC fights, Munoz mad an impact, winning both fights by knockout. 

    Munoz was one of the fighters who moved to the UFC after the WEC got rid of their light heavyweight and middleweight divisions. 

    Munoz had a rocky start to his UFC career as he lost his debut by knockout to Matt Hamill. 

    Since the fight, Munoz moved down to middleweight, where he has only lost a close bout to Yushin Okami. 

    Munoz is currently on a four-fight winning streak and could find himself in a title fight if he defeats Chael Sonnen at UFC on Fox 2 next month. 

Anthony Pettis

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    Anthony Pettis became one of the WEC's most exciting fighters during the company's final years. 

    Pettis won three "Fight Night" bonuses, defeated Benson Henderson to become the final WEC lightweight champion and got national attention after scoring one of the most memorable kicks in MMA history. 

    After winning the title, Pettis was promised a UFC  title shot against the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard at the beginning of the year. 

    Pettis' title hopes were lost after Edgar and Maynard fought to a draw.

    Pettis then lost a bout to Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale. 

    After these two setbacks, Pettis got back on the winning side of things at UFC 136 when he defeated Jeremy Stephens. 

Chael Sonnen

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    Before Chael Sonnen became the "Real" middleweight champion, he was fighting for a middleweight title in the WEC. 

    Although Sonnen lost his title fight against Paulo Filho, he got revenge on the Brazilian fighter nearly a year later as he handed Filho his first career loss. 

    Sonnen was one of the few fighters selected to come to the UFC after the WEC got rid of their light heavyweight and middleweight divisions. 

    Sonnen has gone 4-2 since his UFC return, and he nearly defeated Anderson Silva last year. 

    After much trash talk and suspensions, Sonnen finds himself back in position to fight Silva in a rematch. 

    The only thing Sonnen has to do is get past Mark Munoz at UFC on Fox 2. 

Chad Mendes

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    Chad Mendes may not be the flashiest fighter in the world, but he gets the job done. 

    Mendes is a perfect 11-0 in his MMA career. This includes four WEC and two UFC victories. 

    Mendes was suppose to meet Jose Aldo at UFC 133, but Aldo had to drop out of the bout in order to heal from his previous fight. 

    Instead of waiting to fight Aldo, Mendes fought Rani Yahya at UFC 133 and defeated him by unanimous decision. 

    Mendes will now face Aldo at UFC 142 next month. 

Benson Henderson

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    Despite being on the wrong end of a "Showtime kick" and losing his WEC lightweight title, Benson Henderson is getting the last laugh. 

    In the WEC, Henderson was a rising star who won each of his first five fights with the company. 

    Although Henderson lost in a title bout against Anthony Pettis, he has found himself at the top of the UFC lightweight division just a year later. 

    Henderson is 3-0 in the UFC, including wins over Clay Guida and Jim Miller. 

    Henderson will challenge Frankie Edgar for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 144.

Carlos Condit

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    In just his second WEC fight, Carlos Condit was fighting for the welterweight title. 

    Condit was already a rising star in MMA before the bout. 

    After winning the title, though, Condit proved he was ready to be a star on a bigger stage. 

    Condit defended the title three times before the WEC got rid of its welterweight division. 

    Since coming to the UFC, Condit has gone 4-1 and now finds himself in a bout against Nick Diaz for the interim UFC welterweight title.

Urijah Faber

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    Urijah Faber was the face of the WEC. 

    Faber was a long-reigning featherweight champion and holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in the WEC.

    Faber defeated fighters like Dominick Cruz and Jens Pulver in the process of defending the title.

    After holding the title for over two years, Faber lost the belt to Mike Brown.

    Although Faber lost to Brown, he was never too far from a title bout.

    Faber now fights in the UFC's bantamweight division where he has gone 2-1.

    Faber will get a second chance to take the bantamweight title from Dominick Cruz some time next year.  

Jose Aldo

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    If there was anyone who came close to being Anderson Silva in the WEC, it was Jose Aldo. 

    Aldo was one of the most exciting fighters in the company, finishing seven of his eight bouts by KO. 

    Aldo won the WEC featherweight title in late 2009 and was promoted to UFC featherweight champion late last year. 

    Although Aldo has not been able to score a knockout yet in the UFC, he is 2-0 and has yet to come close to losing his title. 

    Aldo may face one of the toughest challengers of his career when he takes on Chad Mendes at UFC 142. 

Dominick Cruz

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    If Jose Aldo was the WEC's Anderson Silva, Cruz was the company's Georges St-Pierre. 

    In his WEC debut, a 9-0 Cruz faced Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight title. 

    Cruz may have received his first loss to Faber, but he has been unstoppable since. 

    Cruz is on a 10-fight winning streak, which includes wins over Brian Bowles, Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen, and UFC wins over Faber and Demetrious Johnson. 

    With the division nearly cleaned out, Cruz will face Faber in a rubber match some time next year. 

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