Despite the economic fallout in the U.S., World Extreme Cagefighting is poised for its biggest year ever.
That's no small feat. Since being purchased by Zuffa (the UFC's parent company) in late 2006, WEC had seven events in 2007 and will have six in 2008 by the end of the year. They have also made inroads to the masses with a television deal on the Versus network, the rebranded Outdoor Life Network.
Vice President Peter Dropick says that the promotion currently has plans to run more events in 2009 than it ever has in the past, albeit only slightly more, but that is just the initial plans, which are open for expansion.
"We'll have at least eight shows, which will be live on Versus," relayed Dropick on Tuesday. "There's the possibility of additional events and pay-per-view opportunities, as well. Those are all in the plans for 2009, but a minimum of eight."
Pay-per-view has been in the works from some time now. The promotion came within a hair of making it's PPV debut in June of this year when WEC featherweight champ Urijah Faber welcomed former UFC lightweight titleholder Jens Pulver to his hometown of Sacramento. Though WEC pulled the plug on airing it on PPV, WEC 34 was a success, drawing more than 12,000 fans and producing a $739,000 live gate.
It seems that is not enough to pull the trigger on PPV just yet. Dropick has it in the works for 2009 though, but would only say, "Do I have anything scheduled (for PPV)? No. Do I have plans? Yes."
He was more absolute on the direction that the WEC would take in 2009 as far as expanding its territories. While international expansion isn't at the top of the list, it is in Dropick's sights, though he is currently focused on growing on the promotion's home turf.
"I think our first order is to expand our footprint here domestically in the U.S. There are a lot of markets that we want to go into," said the VP. "New markets have opened up for us, one being Chicago," where WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres is extremely popular.
He also mentioned Southern California (San Diego specifically), New Jersey, Texas, and Arizona as locals that have thumbtacks on the WEC's expansion map.
"We have looked at opportunities oversees, but there is nothing on paper at this point. Obviously, the UFC is growing and has an office in the U.K. At this point, I don't have any plans," said Dropick of international plans, but added, "Another area we're looking at is Mexico. We have a new television deal in Mexico on Cadena Tres, which is one of the biggest TV stations down there. I don't know if that would happen in 2009, but that's another logical area to go to."
WEC fighters may not have to have their passports ready just yet, but it sounds as if 2009 could be the year for them to rack up some frequent flyer miles.