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WEC Boss Peter Dropick on Miguel Torres, Faber-Brown 2 and Pay-Per-View

World Extreme Cagefighting is considered by many to be the little brother of the UFC. But while the fighters in the WEC are small, I found in talking to WEC Vice President Peter Dropick that there's nothing small about the promotion's plans.

Dropick and I talked this week about the organization's April 5 show in Chicago, the future plans of bantamweight champion Miguel Torres, why the upcoming featherweight title fight between Mike Brown and Urijah Faber will be on pay-per-view, why TV viewers didn't see the aftermath of a nasty knockout in the WEC's most recent show, and where Dropick himself fits in a company run by Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta. The full interview is below.

Michael David Smith: I think every UFC fan basically understands what Dana White's job as president of the UFC is, but what is your job as vice president of the WEC?
Pete Dropick: In a nutshell, my responsibilities are the business operations of the WEC. Overseeing operations, production, marketing, PR, finances. Almost all aspects with the exception of matchmaking.

Who oversees matchmaking?
Sean Shelby and Reed Harris.

Is Dana White your boss?
Yes. He's not as public as the face of the WEC as he is with the UFC, but he plays an integral part in it.

When you look ahead to an event like the one you have in Chicago April 5, how would you measure whether it's a successful event? Do you expect to sell out the UIC Pavilion? Do you have a specific rating you want to get on Versus?
I think we go into every event expecting a sellout. We also expect to maintain or grow our ratings. We have very high standards here. Dana and the Fertittas have high expectations. We want to continue to grow with every event. We want to have great matches and give the fans what they paid for so they walk away happy.

We know WEC 40 is April 5 in Chicago, when will WEC 41 be?
It looks like it will be in June. I haven't confirmed it but we're looking at potentially a pay-per-view in June as well as a second event on Versus as well. The pay-per-view would be Urijah Faber vs. Mike Brown and probably the weekend before we'd do another event live on Versus.

Is your roster deep enough to do a show on Versus followed the very next weekend by pay-per-view? And will Versus be unhappy that you're putting a great fight like Faber vs. Brown on pay-per-view?

Not sure. Putting a show on pay-per-view is one of our goals, and it's a necessity. We're still going to deliver quality fight cards on Versus. We think we're very deep, across all our weight classes and we put on some of the most exciting fights out there. We need more fights. Our fighters are starting to get backed up a little bit and we need to get them more fights. So our matchmakers would love it if we did two shows in a row, and we think there's enough talent for Versus to be happy and for us to do a good show on pay-per-view.

Will Faber vs. Brown 2 definitely be on pay-per-view and not on Versus?
That's my plan right now. I haven't confirmed 100% -- it's not signed -- but that's what we're moving toward.

When Brown beat Faber, a lot of people were saying it was bad for the WEC that the promotion's most popular fighter had lost. But if that set up a rematch that's going to sell on pay-per-view, was Brown beating Faber good for the WEC?
I'm not sure that his loss necessarily was good, but I think Brown came back and proved to everyone that he is an incredible fighter, one of the best in the world. Brown beat Garcia handily and proved to everyone that it was no fluke, and he's one of the best in the world. It created an incredible rematch, and now there are people saying Faber can't beat Brown. We're going to find out. It's going to be an incredible rematch. The fans can't wait to see this fight.

The UFC is already asking fans to pay $50 a month for pay-per-view. If WEC asks fans to pay another $30 or $40 on top of that, do we reach the point where it's just too expensive to be an MMA fan?
I don't think so. I think it's a very affordable means of entertainment. People are looking for alternate means of entertainment. When you get five or 10 people to chip in, it's nothing. The UFC is seeing great pay-per-view buys recently, some of their best ever. If you deliver a quality product, people will pay for it. And we feel that we'll put on an incredible card.

Will your pay-per-view shows be on Saturdays or Sundays?
Yet to be determined.

When WEC is on Versus, does the WEC control everything? The announcers, the cameras, whatever, or does Versus oversee those things?
The WEC controls the production, but we've got a great relationship with Versus. They're partners of ours and we're in constant communication over different production elements of the show. Overall we control the production of the show.

One thing that had a lot of fans talking after your last show was that after Damacio Page knocked out Marcos Galvao, the Versus broadcast didn't give any indication of what had happened to Galvao. Then the next day someone who had been taping it from the stands posted a video on YouTube that showed Galvao in really bad shape, possibly having a seizure. Should the broadcast have shown Galvao and given fans a better indication of how he was doing?
First off, that fight was a prelim, so it wasn't live. I don't think there was a place to show that injury and we're not going to sensationalize it. And when we did insert that prelim into the live show, at that time I didn't have enough information to report to the fans as to his condition. I didn't think it was appropriate at that time to speculate on his condition, so I made a decision not to report that. Fortunately, Galvao was OK. The medical staff did an incredible job, and he was alert when he was leaving. The subsequent tests were negative that night and then his follow-up tests were negative the next day, and he was able to go home to Brazil.

And he's OK now?
He is. He'll have to have some follow-up tests before he fights again, but the doctors feel he's going to be OK.

How much longer is your current deal with Versus?
The current deal goes through 2009.

Could you have a new TV home in 2010?
Our intent is to renew with Versus and we're in those negotiations now. But if for some reason that doesn't work out then yes, we would find another home.

Who will the broadcasters be for the April 5 show?
Frank Mir and Todd Harris.

So Jens Pulver just filled in because Frank missed the most recent show, but Frank's still your color commentator?
Right, Frank couldn't make it so Jens jumped in and did an awesome job. He's a pro. He loved it, too. He's got a future there. He had a good sweater too. Jens is a bright guy, he's enthusiastic and he's a great ambassador for the sport and for lighter weight fighters.

Is he going to keep fighting?
Oh, yeah. He's still got fights coming up. I think he's slated to fight in June.

On the pay-per-view or the Versus card?
I'm not sure.

Ideally, how many pay-per-views would you do a year?
This year I think one or two. Then we'll see how they do and grow it from there. With Versus we plan to have eight live shows in 2009, so we could probably do two pay-per-views.

Is WEC planning a reality TV show?
We are. We're in the developmental stages of it and we're working on treatments for that. That's one of the ancillary programs we've been talking about doing since the beginning. We hope to have a show in 2009.

A lot of the best small fighters are in Japan. Are you keeping an eye on Sengoku and Dream, and might you sign some of their fighters?
We've been getting a lot of interest from the Japanese fighters. A lot of these guys are saying they want to join the WEC because it's the home of the best lighter weight fighters in the world. We're going to add 125-pounders also, and these guys want to come here. Our talent relations guys are keeping an eye on the Japanese fight game and fights around the world. The WEC is getting a reputation that this is where you need to go if you're a lighter weight fighter.

What's your sense for how well known the WEC and its fighters are among fans in Japan?
Based on the feedback of the fighters, I think we are well known. And we're getting some interest from TV networks there that have interest in carrying the WEC. I think it's growing every day.

When you add that 125-pound division, how will you determine which flyweights you want to offer contracts?
The flyweights are out there, but there wasn't an outlet for the best 125-pounders to be exposed. There are good fighters in Japan, and we're finding out that a lot of the best flyweights are currently fighting at 135 just because there wasn't a 125-pound weight class for them to fight in. We're also going to need to develop some guys.

Speaking of bantamweights changing weight classes, your bantamweight champion, Miguel Torres, was quoted as saying he'd like to move all the way up to fight in the UFC at lightweight.

So he'd jump over 145 to 155?

Yeah.
Miguel will fight anybody anywhere any time. That's the beauty of him. But there's no plans for it. There's also been talk that he could move up to fight Urijah in a superfight. Currently there's no plans for it. Does that mean we'd never do it? No. We're committed to putting on the fights that would be the most exciting, and that the fans want. Miguel, at bantamweight he's the No. 1 guy in the world. Pound-for-pound he's in the Top 5, but he's still got some competition. He's got some guys to get through at bantamweight.

Do you expect to have a women's division at some point?
I don't know. We want the best and most exciting fighters out there. If that means a women's fight or a division, we'd look at it. At this point we don't have plans to do that. But it's something we would look at. I'm not sure if there's enough there for a division at this point but we would certainly look at it because we want the best and most exciting out there.

Will the UFC and the WEC always remain separate entities?
That's our plan for now. The WEC will soon have three weight classes that the UFC does not have [flyweights, bantamweights and featherweights], so we've truly differentiated ourselves from the UFC. The TV networks are interested in another organization, the sponsors are interested in another organization and it seems the fans are crazy enough about the sport to support another organization.

What do you want fans to know about your April 5 card?
That we're bringing two of Chicago's best into their hometown, with Jeff Curran and Miguel Torres. The card is stacked top to bottom, showing how strong our lighter weight classes are. Our prelim card is stacked. A lot of these fights could be main cards. Unfortunately we can't make them all main card fights, but it's going to be an incredible night at the UIC Pavilion, and if you can't make it, tune in on Versus.