(Kamal Shalorus vehemently objects to your plans to watch “Cold Case” tonight. PicProps: Sherdog)
Sure, after UFC 115, Strikeforce: LA, Bellator 22 and the “TUF 11” Finale, it’ll be the fifth MMA show in fewer than 10 days but that doesn’t make WEC 49 any less deserving of your attention, does it? I mean, it’s Sunday night, what else are you going to do? Tuck in at a decent hour so you can get started being “FIRST!” in the comment section bright and early Monday morning?
After a litany of injuries, a loss to current champ Ben Henderson and a significant number of fans calling him a faker following his bout with Donald Cerrone last January, former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner is pretty much in a must-win situation against Kamal Shalorus tonight. Officially, Varner is 5-1 in his last six fights but his reputation has seen better days. Unfortunately, Shalorus — the former Olympic wrestler and undefeated MMA prospect — will provide a pretty stiff test. Toss in the return of featherweight phenom Josh Grispi from injury and this starts shaping up as a decent show. Besides, yours truly will be doing a “live Twitter” thing of this event for @VsMMA, so I know you’ll be following that …
If I wasn’t afraid Matt Hughes would come to my house to personally demand a retraction, I’d be tempted to call Shalorus the “Iranian Matt Hughes” after he cut loose with some sweet quotes this week about the inherent toughness earned from growing up on a farm.
"I know some athletes who developed their strength through technology," Shalorus told MMAFighting.com’s MDS. "Not me. I got it working with my hands, working in the field all day, working with the animals. We had sheep, goats, horses — I’d have to build a barn for the animals, I’d have to work in the garden and then go chop down a tree, I’d have to go into the mountains to get something. It was a hard workout.”
Just goes to show you, no matter what part of the world you grow up in, there’s something universal about country breakfasts and racing your brother to the mailbox. Also like Hughes, Shalorus has at times chosen to forego his wrestling skills in favor of a fairly rudimentary striking game. Keeping it on the feet will not be the smart move against Varner, but if Shalorus falls back on his near peerless grappling credentials he could win this fight. His resume includes a solid catch wrestling background, which means he might also do something awesome like refer to a rear naked choke as a “strangle-bar choke.”
Grispi, meanwhile, was rolling right along with nine straight victories before surgery stemming from an ankle injury suffered just prior to his defeat of Jens Pulver at WEC 41 put him on the shelf for the last 12 months. At just 21, Grispi is one of those freaky prototypes of what future MMA fighters may look like. He’s dangerous in all aspects, as evidenced by an even split between six T/KO and six submission wins.
The Pat Miletich-trained LC Davis could be Grispi’s toughest foe to date, however. If you’ve been around the sport longer than five minutes you know what to expect from a Miletich guy and Davis is certainly no exception. He’s a community-college wrestling coach turned MMA fighter and his best chance at victory here is to try to take Grispi into deep water. In 14 professional fights, Grispi has been out of the first round just once and coming off the long layoff Davis would be well-served to turn this fight into a grinder. Obviously, that’s easier said than done.
In other televised action, former IFL standout Chris Horodecki will continue to try to erase the memory of a potentially career-altering stoppage at the hands of Ryan Schultz back in 2007 when he takes on last-minute replacement Danny Downes; Yves Jabouin looks to bounce back from a loss to Raphael Assuncao against Mark Hominick and former champ Eddie Wineland is charged with stopping young up-and-comer Will Campuzano.
So, I rest my case. Unless you plan on getting totally creeped-out by Jeff Goldblum during back-to-back episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” tonight, you basically have no choice but to watch WEC 49. I’m sure I’ll see you there.