WEC's Reed Harris talks expansion, PPV and reality TV

WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown.
WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown.

Danny Acosta spoke with WEC co-general manager Reed Harris today on his Fox Sports Reno, NV radio show. These are excerpts from the conversation.

On coming back to Sacramento:“Yeah I think so, our tickets are actually tracking better than last year.”

On Faber-Brown staying off PPV: “The real reason was Versus came to us and said they wanted to do this show.”

On WEC PPV: “We’re just gonna build our audience and do that maybe at the end of the year.” Harris said the WEC is looking to do 10 shows next year.

On division shuffling: “Four divisions is good for us, with the number of events we’re doing, we can support four divisions, four titles.”

On the lightweight division: “We’ve had a lot of guys contact us that fight at 155 and we’re working hard to sign more guys and make that division deeper.” Harris said James Krause is a fighter to watch out for.

On flyweights (125#): “I think that the public is gonna make that division. The feedback I get from the public is they love watching the lower weights.”

Mike Brown told Harris: “Look, I’ve got like 30 jiu-jitsu black belts that I train with, none of them are my size,” which according to Brown forces him to be technically sound in order to compete with their size.

On WEC’s fan base: “I get people that tell me the WEC fights are the best fights they see year round.”

On dissolving divisions: “The thing that we did talk about with Dana [White]–this came from Dana–he didn’t want us to be under their shadow, and that’s one of the reason’s we separated our weight divisions.”

On WEC expansion: “Our plan is to go to new cities…the television viewership goes up from that point forward…Eventually, we’d like to go to Mexico.…Right now, we’re focused on the United States as we should be. We’re not the UFC; we know that. Obviously, the Mizugaki-Torres fight went a long way to building [international fan base].”

On Mizugaki-Torres post-fight:[Mizugaki] looked at Miguel and said, ‘I want to thank you for showing me I had a couple of holes in my game…I’m gonna go back to Japan and train and work on that and I want to see you again.'”

On scouting fighters: “We’re getting calls from them to us.” According to Harris the WEC and UFC often check out fighters on YouTube at the recommendation of fight camps, agents, and each other.

On Mizugaki’s success: “I think that may play into us going to Japan and doing a live event.”

On the original WEC Started in 1999 with Scott Adams: “[Native American reservations] basically told us there was no way they’d do that show, but we kept at it, and we finally got the [Tachi Palace in Lemoore, CA]…To be honest with you, our goal was to do one show.” Half way through the first WEC starring Dan Severn, casino executives came to Harris and Adams to express interest in a second show. “We were putting money right back [into the next show.]” They used to go to boxing shows, college bars near Fresno State and San Luis Obispo, and hand out fliers. They did the same at rival promotions and were often chased by security within 20 minutes.

On WEC fighters leaving for the UFC: “The better they did, the better it made us look.”

On the UFC-WEC relationship: “We meet with them almost every week. They’re engaged in the WEC, and our decisions are directed by them,” but Reed said the WEC is still independent with plenty of say. “What I’m doing, they’ve already done.”

On fighter exposure compared to the UFC: “Look at where Urijah Faber was two years ago. We got him a platform where he can display his skills. In two years, he’s become very, very popular. Part of that has to do with Urijah’s abilities, part of that hast to do with promotion.” Reed claims Faber can’t walk around his hometown Sacramento, CA without being recognized.

On lighter weight classes rising in popularity: “Do you know how many guys have come to me and said, ‘thank you for doing this’?” Torres would fight welterweights at 135-pounds.

Harris said he believes the best pre-Zuffa WEC fight was Olaf Alfonso versus John Polakowski. Polakowski took the fight on something like three days notice. The best post-Zuffa WEC fight was Torres versus Yoshiro Mayeda.

On WEC’s energy level: “We tell guys before the show, try to go out there and be exciting. its one of the reasons we try and do [knockout, submission and fight of the night] bonuses. In my events, most of these guys are going out there to fight.”

On Jens Pulver’s future: “I think its up to Jens. The one thing I will tell you is that everyone at Zuffa loves Jens Pulver.” Harris said Pulver is hard on himself, constantly talking about how he’s an “old guy” but all of his recent losses have come to top-tier fighters.

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