Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 | 10:51 a.m.
The UFC announced Thursday that it has finalized a long-anticipated merger with its sister organization, the WEC.
Company president Dana White made the announcement during a national conference call.
"Everybody's been talking about it. I think everybody wanted this to happen from the fans to the media guys writing it should be done," White said. "It was a timing thing. As we start opening these other markets, it made sense."
The move brings in two additional weight classes, bantamweight and featherweight, to the five that already exist in the UFC. The current champions holding those belts are Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo, respectively.
The UFC will retain the contracts of approximately 70 fighters from the WEC, according to White.
The WEC's third weight class, the 155-pound division, will combine with the UFC roster. The two division's champions, UFC's Frankie Edgar and WEC's Ben Henderson, both have title defenses already scheduled in the next three months.
Eventually, the winners of those fights will unify the belts in 2011.
"The winner of Henderson's next fight will automatically face the winner of the (Jan. 1) Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard fight," White said.
The announcement marks the official end of the WEC, which was founded in 2001 and purchased by UFC's parent company Zuffa in 2006.
"There is no more WEC," White said. "Those weight classes are going to roll into the UFC now. All the fighters under the WEC will stay with the UFC."
According to White, the UFC is far from finished in its goal of adding more weight classes.
As talent continues to develop and the sport of mixed martial arts grows worldwide, White expects a 125-pound flyweight division to emerge.
"It's always been our goal to have every weight class in the UFC," White said.
In addition to the merger, White also announced the UFC has signed a deal to televise four free shows on the VERSUS network, which had served as the main carrier for WEC shows.
The UFC held two shows on the VERSUS network in 2010.