Tomorrow, October 28, is the five-year anniversary of Dana White’s announcement that the Ultimate Fighting Championship would merge with World Extreme Cagefighting. Of course, the most notable part of the deal was the addition of the featherweight and bantamweight divisions to the UFC. However, quite a few WEC lightweights came over in the merger that are still making waves today.

Here are the top five WEC lightweights that entered the UFC through the merger:

5. Danny Castillo

The Team Alpha Male product had a lengthy career in the WEC prior to his UFC debut. Castillo was victorious in five of eight fights in the blue cage, including wins over Dustin Poirier and Ricardo Lamas.  Unfortunately, his UFC career has not nearly been as successful, accumulating a 7-6 record in the Octagon. The wrestler has had very impressive performances against Shamar Bailey and Charlie Brenneman, but has not been able to put it together against top competition. He has done enough to remain in the UFC, Castillo will look to end his current three-fight losing streak against Nik Lentz in December.

4. Dustin Poirier

“Diamond” split a pair of WEC bouts in the lightweight division prior to the merger. Poirier decided to move to the featherweight division to make a run at lighter weight and had great success. Poirier was victorious in UFC fights with Max Holloway, Eric Koch and Diego Brandao while he accumulated an 8-3 featherweight record before returning to 155 pounds. Once of those losses was one of the best UFC fights of all time against Chan Sung Jung. Poirier has been marvelous since his lightweight return, as he has won two-straight fights with excellent first-round knockouts. Poirier is not currently scheduled to fight after his UFC Fight Night 76 main event matchup with Joe Duffy fell through due to Duffy’s fight week concussion.

3. Benson Henderson

Henderson was one of the key transfers of the merger. “Bendo” was 5-1 in the WEC with a pair of wins over current top lightweight contender Donald Cerrone, and a victory over Jamie Varner. He lost his title to Anthony Pettis in the final WEC fight ever in what is known as one of the best fights in the promotions history. After the merger, Henderson went on a tear, winning seven-straight fights, and claiming the UFC lightweight belt over Frankie Edgar and defending it three-times during that stretch. Henderson lost his title to Anthony Pettis once again, and split his four next fights before moving up to the welterweight division. Henderson is not bothered by the size disadvantage he now faces, as proven by his thrilling fourth-round submission victory over Brandon Thatch. “Bendo” will face longtime veteran Thiago Alves in the main event of UFC Fight Night 79 next month.

2. Anthony Pettis

Pettis was the final lightweight champion of the WEC, winning the belt in the WEC’s last fight and capping a 5-1 record in the promotion. “Showtime” lost in his UFC debut against Clay Guida, but quickly recovered. Pettis strung together five victories after his debut defeat, winning the title in that time and defending it once. Pettis had incredible finishes of Donald Cerrone, Joe Lauzon, Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez during that run. The Duke Roufus product recently lost his belt to the current champion Rafael Dos Anjos, causing his UFC record to fall to 5-2. He’s had many injury issues, fighting just twice since the beginning of 2014. Pettis’ next Octagon appearance will be in January against fierce striker Eddie Alvarez.

1. Donald Cerrone

Cerrone was 6-3 in the WEC, with all three loses coming against the champion at the time. Cerrone has been incredible since the merger thanks to his non-stop work rate. Cerrone has a ridiculous 16-3 record since he began fighting for the promotion in 2011. Cerrone has accumulated ten post-fight bonuses in that time, which is fourth-most for active UFC fighters. He holds great victories over Melvin Guillard, Benson Henderson, Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Denis Siver, and the list goes on and on. Nine of his sixteen wins have come via stoppage, which has led to “Cowboy” being known as guaranteed excitement. He will look to extend his outstanding eight-fight win streak and finally win a belt in December against Rafael Dos Anjos.

About The Author

Danny Doherty
Staff Writer

Danny is a sophomore at Ithaca College looking to acquire a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Media. He has been an avid fan of mixed martial arts since watching the UFC’s 100 Greatest Fights special on Spike TV back in 2009. Shortly following UFC 100, Danny’s Saturdays, and most of his free time, became dedicated to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In addition to writing for The MMA Corner, Danny works as a sports broadcaster and as a DJ for Ithaca College’s FM radio station, 92 WICB.