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 411mania » MMA » Columns

The 411 MMA Top 10 03.11.13 The Top 10 WEC Fighters
Posted by Alex Rella on 03.11.2013

Top Ten WEC Fighters
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Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at the top ten fighters to compete in the WEC. World Extreme Cagefighting opened it's doors in 2001, but it didn't really start to be a success until it was purchased by Zuffa in 2006. The UFC absorbed the heavier divisions giving the WEC something unique in the lighter weight classes. They held their final event in December 2010 as the UFC brought over their 155, 145, and 135 lb divisions. This is not a list based on who has had the overall best careers, but during their time spent in the WEC. This week's rankings are based on win-loss records, title reigns, title fights, fight quality, significance of the career in relation to the WEC, and some of my opinion.

Honorable Mentions:
Brian Stann- Probably the best part of Stann's career was in the WEC. The marine went 5-1 in the company and won the light heavyweight title.
Joseph Benavidez- then bantamweight had wins over guys like Jeff Curran, Rani Yahya, and Miguel Torres. He probably would have won the title if it wasn't for Dominic Cruz
Brian Bowles- 5-1 in the WEC and defeated Miguel Torres for the bantamweight title

10: Jamie Varner
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I went back and forth on Varner and Bowles in the tenth spot. I ultimately picked Varner as he did successfully defend his title, was the more exciting fighter, and I admit I'm a little biased as he is one of my favorite fighters. Varner went 1-1 in the UFC before deciding to go over to the WEC in 2007. Varner won his first four fights in the WEC which included winning the lightweight title and two title defenses. Varner lost his title to Benson Henderson at WEC 46 and would get released in 2010 after going 0-3-1 in his last four fights. One of the nicer stories of 2012 was Varner returning to the UFC and going 2-1.

9:Anthony Pettis
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Anthony Pettis only spent about a year and a half in the WEC, but he made it count. The human highlight reel entered the WEC with a perfect record and went 5-1 in the company. The only loss was to Bart Palaszewski at WEC 45, but he won his next four fights that included a Submission, Knockout, and Fight of the Night. Pettis headlined the final WEC event as he took on Benson Henderson for the WEC lightweight title. This was an awesome fight and a truly fitting way for the WEC to go out, many publications named it Fight of the Year as well. It was a close fight until Pettis took the final round with possibly the best kick in MMA history. Pettis became the final WEC lightweight champion and is now currently the number one contender for the UFC featherweight title.

8:Donald Cerrone
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The Cowboy Donald Cerrone was one of the most exciting fighters to compete in the WEC. Cerrone entered the WEC undefeated and having submitted all of his opponents at that point. His WEC run didn't start great as his first victory was overturned after he tested positive for a banned substance. Cerrone rebounded nicely and worked his way to the top of the division. Cerrone lost three WEC lightweight title fights, one to Jamie Varner and twice to Benson Henderson. Cerrone did have five Fight of the Nights though. Cerrone is still a top lightweight in the UFC even though I doubt he'll ever make a run at the title. I would like to see him finish his trilogy with Jamie Varner in the next year or so.

7: Carlos Condit
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The WEC is mostly remembered for the lightweight through bantamweight divisions, but Carlos Condit was the best welterweight in the company's history. The Natural Born Killer went a perfect 5-0 in the company and lived up to his nickname finishing every opponent (4 submissions and 1 TKO). Condit only spent about 20 months in the company, but he did win the welterweight title and defended it three times before the welterweight division was absorbed by the UFC. Condit is one of only a few fighters to hold titles in the WEC and UFC.

6: Miguel Torres
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During the peak of his career in the WEC, Miguel Torres was considered to be one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world. Torres and his mullet was one of the first great bantamweights in MMA. He went 6-2 in the WEC winning the bantamweight title in only his second fight in the company. He defended his title three times, two of which won Fight of the Night. He hasn't been as good since Brian Bowles knocked him out for the title at WEC 42, but he still had a great career and really helped the WEC and the bantamweight division.

5: Mike Brown
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Mike Brown entered the WEC in 2008 with an 18-4 record in the featherweight division. In his first fight, Brown defeated former number one contender Jeff Curran by unanimous decision.In his second fight Brown took on Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight title. Faber was the best featherweight in the world for years, but Brown unseeded the champ with a first round TKO victory. Brown would defend his title against Leonard Garcia and Faber in a rematch. The rematch with Faber is one of my favorite WEC fights and it cemented Brown's status as the top featherweight in the world at that point. Brown lost his title to Jose Aldo at WEC 44, but would stay near the top of the division until he came over to the UFC. Brown is only 2-2 in the UFC, but he is still one of the few guys that can pull off an awesome chest tattoo.

4: Benson Henderson
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The current UFC lightweight first rose to fame and success in the WEC. Benson Smooth Henderson is one of the most well rounded fighters today with backgrounds in wrestling, jiu jitsu, and taekwondo. Henderson beat some of the top lightweights in the company during his 5-1 WEC run. These six fights included victories over Shane Roller, Jamie Varner, Donald Cerrone 2x, the WEC lightweight title, a Submission of the Night, two Fight of the Nights, and two Fights of the Year. Henderson lost the lightweight title to Anthony Pettis in his final fight, but it was an awesome fight and he went on to win his next six fights in the UFC. It looked like we were going to see the rematch this year, but Pettis decided to drop down and fight Jose Aldo instead.

3: Dominic Cruz
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I really miss watching Dominic Cruz fight, it's a shame that one of the world's best fighters has been on the shelf for so long. Cruz went 7-1 in the WEC, winning the bantamweight title and defending it twice. His only loss was his first fight in the company in a featherweight title fight against Urijah Faber. Cruz has become a completely different fighter since the only loss of his career. Cruz defeated Brian Bowles for the 135 pound title at WEC 47 and had victories over other top fighters including Scott Jorgensen, Ian McCall, and Joseph Benavidez. Hopefully the knee injuries don't slow him down too much when he returns.

2: Jose Aldo
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Jose Aldo was simply perfect in the WEC. Aldo is one of those guys I dislike because he's defeated so many of my favorite fighters over the years, but he climbs the all time rankings with each passing fight. Aldo won a record eight consecutive fights and the featherweight title during his run with the company. He defeated Mike Brown for the title at WEC 44 and finished seven of his eight opponents by strikes. Faber was the only person he couldn't finish and that was actually his most impressive victory in the WEC. Aldo won by unanimous decision and completely wrecked Faber with 32 kicks during the fight. Faber was previously the greatest featherweight, but Aldo has moved past him during his time in the UFC. Aldo defended his WEC title twice and would bring it over to the UFC in 2011.

1: Urijah Faber
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The California Kid is not liked by every MMA fan, but he is easily the best WEC fighter. Faber debuted in the WEC in March 2006 defeating Cole Escevedo for the featherweight title at WEC 19. He would stay with the company until November 2010, winning at WEC 52, the second to last WEC event. During his time with the company he won a record nine fights and defended his title a record five times. Faber's run as champion really helped the company increase in popularity and reach their high level of success. During this time he would defeat top fighters like Dominic Cruz and Jens Pulver. Faber lost his title and the rematch to Mike Brown, but he would stay at the top of the division. He got massacred by Jose Aldo in his final featherweight fight in a passing of the guard of sorts in the 145 pound division. His final fight in the WEC was his bantamweight debut as he won Submission of the Night and his record tying ninth fight. The most impressive title reign and some of the company's most exciting fights have him as the top fighter in this week's list.

So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
Next week will be ten potential superfights.

Bonus K-1 Fight of The Week

Try not to die til next week.


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