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WEC Draws 6,000-Plus in Phoenix for Final Event

GLENDALE, Ariz. – In its final event, the WEC brought in an estimated attendance of 6,384 to the Arena outside Phoenix on Thursday night. Gate information was not yet available late Thursday night.

After Thursday's WEC 53 card, the promotion will merge with its Zuffa LLC sibling promotion, the UFC, starting in January, though there have already been several lighter-weight fights over the last two UFC cards.

The Phoenix-area location was unique in that it was chosen through a vote by fans in a co-promotion with Amp Energy. It was the first Zuffa event to take place in Arizona after the state passed sanctioning.

The biggest draw on the card was Ben Henderson, who lives and trains in Glendale, just 10 minutes from the Arena. Henderson was the biggest fan favorite of the night, but he lost his WEC lightweight title to challenger Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision. The bout won Fight of the Night honors for Henderson and Pettis and bonuses of $10,000 each.

Former lightweight champion Jamie Varner, who was born and raised in Phoenix and still lives and trains there, also had crowd support for his preliminary card bout against Shane Roller. But he was submitted in the first round, falling to 0-3-1 in 2010. Varner told MMA Fighting recently that he believed a loss could lead to his exit from Zuffa – just before he would be returning to the UFC after several years in the WEC.

The preliminary card featured five first-round finishes in seven fights.

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