Many people have said that the WEC lightweights could not compete against the UFC lightweights. Many people have wanted to see the top WEC lightweights compete against the UFC’s lightweights. We often wonder how will Anthony Pettis, Ben Henderson and Donald Cerrone fair in the UFC? Now, that is a reality with the WEC merging with the UFC. Several match-ups have already been set. Before progressing we need to state that Zuffa signed guys for either UFC or WEC contracts and found those guys from the same pool of talent. Many people will judge the success of the WEC on the success of their fighters int he UFC. Not much will change among the featherweights and bantamweights because they will be competing against the same competition, however the whole playing field is different for the former WEC lightweight fighters. There is no doubt that the UFC lightweight division is bigger and deeper than the WEC’s ever was, but can the top guys in WEC be top guys in the UFC?
Several fighters will make the hard transition into deep waters. Zuffa cut ties with several guys before the merger (i.e. Jamie Varner & Chris Horodecki), a few guys dropped down a weightclass to the featherweight division (i.e. Tiequan Zhang & Dustin Poirer) and
Donald Cerrone vs. Paul Kelly – Mark this one for the WEC guys. I believe most people would have ranked Cerrone higher than Kelly. Cerrone proved to be the better all around guy. 1-0 WEC
Maciej Jewtuszko vs. Curt Warburton – This fight takes place at UFC 127 in a few weeks. Jewtuszko really impressed in his WEC debut. He would be my pick in this fight and that would make the WEC guys 2-0.
Danny Castillo vs. Joe Stevenson – Joe Stevenson is in a bind and needs a win. I think Castillo is a tough match-up, but a good one for Stevenson who is better all around than Castillo. I would predict Stevenson wins this one making it 2-1 WEC.
Shane Roller vs. Thiago Tavares – Tavares has dangerous submissions, but Roller has dominant wrestling and more power in his strikes. Tavaraes could win this fight, but my pick would be Roller. 3-1 WEC
Kamal Shalorus vs. Jim Miller – Jim Miller is the favorite in this fight, but don’t sleep on Shalorus. Miller is known for his great wrestling, but Shlarous’ wrestling should be on another level. The problem for Kamal is that he is a bit wild at times. I believe Miller will out box him and if the fight hits the mat he will submit him making it 3-2 WEC
Anthony Njokuani vs. Edson Barboza
This fight is an exciting fight. Both guys have great striking. Njokuani is dangerous on his feet, but Barboza’s muay thai is on another level. I don’t see Njokuani winning this fight. My pick is Barboza making it 3-3 EVEN.
Ben Henderson vs. Mark Bocek
The former WEC champ will take on dangerous submission guy Mark Bocek. I think this is a favorable fight for Henderson. Henderson is very hard to submit. If anyone can do it Bocek can though. However, I would have to pick Henderson here. If Henderson does win the tally would be 4-3 WEC.
Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Guida
Pettis should be getting a title shot, but instead he will get Clay Guida. Guida is tough. Guida very well could win this fight, but I would pick Pettis in this fight. I believe Pettis can handle the pace set by Guida. If all this fights scheduled pan out the way I predict (and I doubt they actually will) it would be 5-3 WEC.
Still waiting on: Bart Palaszewski, Danny Downes, and Ricardo Lamas.
Here is what we know. The WEC lightweight can be competitive with the UFC lightweights. I do not know if top WEC guys can be top UFC lightweights, but time will tell. I think that when all the dust settles we will see 5-6 of these guys with long UFC careers. In just a little bit of time people wills top viewing them as WEC lightweights and see them simply as UFC lightweights.