The best of the WEC debuts on FOX Sports March 19

Before fighters like Jose Aldo, Urijah Faber and Carlos Condit were competing inside the UFC Octagon, they were making their name in World Extreme Cagefighting aka the WEC in some of the best fights in MMA history.

Now for the first time ever, the WEC is coming to FOX Sports 1 with a new Best of the WEC show that will feature some of the greatest moments to take place in the promotion that launched the careers of some of the top featherweights and bantamweights as well as produced future UFC champions like Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson.

The first Best of the WEC airs on Wednesday, March 19 at 8pm ET with Kenda Perez hosting.

The WEC first launched in 2001 as a regional promotion in Lemoore, California but the organization hit new heights when Zuffa — parent company to the UFC — bought them out in 2006 and brought them to a national television audience.

From there the WEC produced some of the best highlights in MMA including the emergence of several champion who now rule the roost in the UFC today.

In 2008 a young Brazilian named Jose Aldo burst onto the scene via the WEC and it didn’t take him long to be noticed by fans and fighters alike.  Among his best performances was a blistering seven-second knockout over top rated contender Cub Swanson at WEC 41 where Aldo leapt through the air like he was on wires, connecting with two knee strikes that rendered his opponent helpless like he was just struck by lightning.   One fight later, Aldo did the same thing to Mike Brown to win the WEC featherweight title — a belt he still holds to this day.

UFC fans are very familiar with bantamweight top contender Urijah Faber, but when he was first introduced in the WEC, he was the reigning and defending champion at 145 pounds.  Faber was the king of the lighter weight classes routinely rolling through challengers including Dominick Cruz, who he submitted in just over 90 seconds when they met at WEC 26.  The disdain between the two fighters started there after Cruz deliberately signed his name over Faber’s face on all of the posters he autographed that weekend and thus began one of the greatest rivalries in MMA history.

There was no shortage of wars in the WEC either including two courtesy of future UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.  His interim title fight against Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in 2009 was nothing short of awe inspiring as the two fighters battled back and forth through every facet of the game until the final horn sounded.  Henderson also closed out the WEC a few years later when he met Anthony Pettis for the first time, and the duel was everything the promotion had hoped for once it finally went down inside the cage.

No one could have predicted, however, the fight would also produce one of the biggest highlights to ever take place in MMA when Pettis launched himself off the cage and connected with a head kick to Henderson’s face.  The move was dubbed ‘The Showtime Kick’ and regardless of being a WEC bout, it is routinely featured in UFC highlight packages to this day.

And who could forgot possibly the two best fights to ever take place in the WEC — Miguel Torres defending his bantamweight title against late replacement Takeya Mizugaki and what ensued was a five-round maelstrom of action.  Then there was WEC 48 when the world was introduced to a fighter known as ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung. 

That night he fought Leonard Garcia in a whirlwind of a fight where the two competitors unleashed every ounce of blood, sweat and tears they had in a bout routinely discussed as one of the best matchups of all time.

The list goes on and on for all of the great WEC moments that took place not to mention it was the place where Carlos Condit reigned as welterweight champion as well as the first meeting of a former Marine captain turned MMA fighter named Brian Stann.

The WEC was not only a haven for the lighter weight classes, but a top notch promotion where some of the stars of today got their start and a laundry list of great fights took place.  As the Best of the WEC comes to FOX Sports 1, get ready to be entertained with some of the best MMA action that’s ever taken place with the fiercest knockouts, the slickest submissions and the kind of knock down, drag out wars that will leave your jaw on the floor begging for more.

Here’s a rundown of the first six episodes from the Best of the WEC:

Best of WEC 101 – UFC Stars: Some of the biggest names in MMA showcase their skills inside the WEC Octagon in this all-star edition of The Best of WEC.

Best of WEC 102 – From one-punch knockouts to skillful submissions, witness some of the most memorable finishes in WEC history.

Best of WEC 103 – Watch three classic bantamweight and featherweight fights from the WEC that prove that bigger isn’t always badder.

Best of WEC 104 – WEC’s lighter-weight fighters were known for their nonstop cardio and action that looked like it was unfolding in fast-forward. See three of these memorable brawls on The Best of WEC.

Best of WEC 105 – Team Alpha Male: See great fights from the members of Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male: Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, Joseph Benavidez and Danny Castillo.

Best of WEC 106 – WEC’s Final Event: Journey back to WEC 53 for two memorable lightweight fights: Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone vs. Chris Horodecki.