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BREAKING: UFC, WEC to merge beginning in 2011

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Ariel Helwani has the scoop at

UFC president Dana White exclusively confirmed that the merger will happen in January 2011, which means that the UFC will feature for the first time a 135 and 145-pound weight class. The WEC lightweight division fighters will also move over to the UFC.

"The timing was right," White said. "The reality is, we purchased the WEC, we started getting these lighter weight guys exposure on television, sending them around the country and arenas. Now, as the UFC continues to grow globally and we're doing more and more fights, now it makes sense to bring in those lighter weight classes.

"We're going to add more fights every year and add more countries, more television networks in different countries. So now it makes sense."

In addition to this news, White said that four UFC events will air live on Versus in 2011. The UFC will still continue it's same relationship with Spike TV. No word just yet on when the next UFC on Versus card will air. In addition to eight scheduled WEC events, Versus aired two UFC cards in 2010.

Before the merger takes place, WEC will hold its final two events. The next one takes place on Nov. 11 in Las Vegas, featuring the bantamweight debut of arguably the most popular fighter in WEC history, Urijah Faber. Dec. 16 mark the final event in WEC history. That fight card, headlined by Dominick Cruz vs. Scott Jorgensen for the bantamweight title and Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis for the lightweight title, will take place in Glendale, AZ. Both events will air live on Versus.

"I actually think it's cool that you'll see two more WEC events before they roll into the UFC," White said.

This news will likely be expanded upon at today's 1 p.m. ET conference call in which White is expected to make a "major announcement." Stay tuned to throughout the day for more on this story.

*LIVE COVERAGE* UFC conference call...

The winner of the Ben Henderson/Anthony Pettis fight will become the No. 1 contender to the UFC lightweight championship and will face the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard at a later date.

Jose Aldo will defend the newly christened UFC featherweight championship Jan. 1 at UFC 125 against an opponent to be determined.

"It's always been our goal to have every weight class. We'd like to add 125 pounds there too," White says, but says he has "no clue" when the 125 class will be added.

White says the UFC's Spike deal allows for four UFC shows outside of the deal with Spike, which is why there will be four UFC shows on Versus.

"It was a timing thing. As we start to open up these other markets and start doing more fights, it just makes sense," White said.

WEC matchmaker Sean Shelby calls the Henderson/Pettis fight the biggest fight in WEC history because the winner will face the Edgar/Maynard winner.

White says a women's division "won't happen anytime soon."

A season of "The Ultimate Fighter" with featherweights and bantamweight could happen soon, White says, but it hasn't been discussed yet.

"We're looking for great fighters and exciting fighters. If you're one of those, you'll stick around. I don't care how deep the roster is," White says.

White says every employee from the WEC will be staying with the UFC.

White says championship fights will remain on pay-per-view.

"I would assume coming over to the big show would mean bigger paydays," White says.

Everyone says the UFC cage will stay the same size.

And the call comes to an end at 1:35 p.m. ET.