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The WEC Is Going to Need Their Interim Lightweight Belt Back, If That’s Cool

(Eh, it was mostly plastic anyway. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)

Following Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone‘s five-round war at WEC 43, lightweight champ Jamie Varner said he’d be down to take on Henderson in December, which seemed a little selfish considering Varner had spent the last nine months recuperating from his Cerrone-related injuries, while Henderson had just sustained his. Certainly Varner and the WEC would allow their new interim lightweight champ at least a three-month turnaround before putting him in another tough battle, right? Well, if Rashad Evans has the correct information, that’s not the plan, and Bendo is about to get screwed:

Earlier today on ESPNs “MMA Live,” guest host and teammate of Donald Cerrone at Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting, Rashad Evans, had this to say when asked if it looked like Henderson and Varner would still be fighting in December to unify the belts even in spite of “Smooth’s” medical issues: “No it doesn’t, and it looks like ‘Cowboy’ is going to go ahead and get the fight with Varner.”

Obviously, you could make the argument that Cerrone deserves to rematch Varner for his belt; the only people who thought he lost the fight against Henderson were the three judges and Cowboy himself. But is it fair to basically nullify Henderson’s interim belt because he can’t compete again in eight weeks? No — it kind of sucks, actually. And that’s the problem when you’re running a promotion with only three weight classes and a very short list of names that could potentially headline an event; you don’t have the benefit of flexibility. Nobody else is available for December’s show, so if you can’t step up, then tough shit. (By the way, making Cerrone fight again in two months isn’t really fair either, but he’s a gamer and you probably won’t be hearing him complain.)

In the short term, the WEC is just flopping around the order in which Cerrone/Varner/Henderson fight each other, and since any combination of those three is a guaranteed Fight of the Night, it’s not that big of a deal. But in the long term, this seems like more evidence that Zuffa should fold the WEC and transfer its bantamweights, featherweights, and best lightweights into the Octagon, where they can find more money, more exposure, and a less chaotic environment. Because while it may not be cool that Benson Henderson got bumped a rung down the title ladder, it’s definitely not cool that his incredible fight against Cerrone took in just 8% of the viewers that Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson did.

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Da Spied Her- October 19, 2009 at 8:58 am
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patisme252- October 17, 2009 at 9:04 am
I agree. I think WEC should make the WEC a farm of some sorts. That being said if that happened the lighter weights would need more recognition in the UFC which I personally still think they do any way. Maybe even set it up like a concert. During a PPV event play a WEC event before hand during the earlier evening, just so they get some more recognition from the die hard MMA fans.
831 Son- October 17, 2009 at 1:39 am
DUMB ass Ben shut the fuck up already. It is totally clear Henderson won that fight you tool. Get off his nuts already this is the 4th time or so you brang this up. Moron, just because you thought his BJJ was sick and wish you were as good doesnt mean you have to suck on his balls 24/7, faggot.
honkey_kong- October 16, 2009 at 8:30 pm
I'm sick of hearing about how Cerrone won that fight. The only reason he "won" in internet fan boy circle jerks is because internet fan boys think submissions are way more important than striking. I fail to see how 2 failed submissions is better than gnp for half the round. Neither won the fight, who knows how much "danger" Henderson was ever in. There is no credible argument to be made that Cerrone was robbed. you might have seen it a different way but there was no foul play, or intent, or ignorance of the rules.
Homoplata- October 16, 2009 at 5:43 pm
Cerrone LOST both fights, i don't get it, why does everybody think he got robbed twice? the judging was accurate in both fights except the one judge in varner/cerrone
GetUpAndKill- October 16, 2009 at 4:24 pm
This news makes me really happy. Let Benson have the winner who cares...I've been waiting for this re-match and will be surprised if that pussy Varner actually want's to take it
LAS- October 16, 2009 at 3:15 pm

You can't just generalize about the fight as a whole, given that they are scored round by round. I think we can safely assume they each took two rounds a piece over the last four rounds, and that scoring it that way isn't really debatable. The question comes down to how you score the first round. Most people on the internet scored it for Cerrone, as he had two really close submission attempts, and was basically controlling the fight from the bottom for half the round. Fightmetric scored the first round a draw. The judges scored it for Henderson. It's pretty fair to say the fight could have gone either way.
portland mma- October 16, 2009 at 2:37 pm
Its crazy to me Cerrone lost both of those fights according to the judges and yet both fighters were so fucked up from fighting him for 5 rounds that they can't compete. If I was Varner and even if I thought I won the first fight that shit would still be in my head.
imakeutap- October 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm
they already have a farm system it is called the ultimate fighter
Sneaky Pete- October 16, 2009 at 2:16 pm
Dirkadirk, I think I was just more impressed with Cerrone at the time, but I can see people being just as impressed with the will and technique of Henderson who successfully avoided every attempt and pressed the action.

Point well taken.
Sneaky Pete- October 16, 2009 at 2:12 pm
I think I'm going to have to agree with Omunto and Trufle about the minor league idea. It's a great way to rehab fighters like, say, a Vera who are still game to compete, but that just get eaten up at the withering heights of the UFC's stacked divisions.

Look at any of the UFC's divisions, not only do they have seemingly indomitable champions, but each has it's own set of gate keepers that are remarkable in their own right. The UFC needs a minor league (or division II) to keep momentum going and really grow some fresh talent.
dirkadirk92- October 16, 2009 at 2:09 pm
Thank you trufle shufle, henderson did win! the only reason ppl think that cerrone won was becasue of the subs he did in the first round. but if ppl actually watch it that was all he did for the first , maybe 2 minutes of the first round then after that the rest of the round henderson pounded him!!now this was one of the best wec fights i have seen but ppl are being so biased and everyone needs to get off there knees and quit sucking cerrones dick!
omunto- October 16, 2009 at 1:59 pm
yeah and the person two posts down...

They should have all weight classes in the WEC and use it as a Minor League for the UFC.

K Im done being a dick now.... maybe.
Miles- October 16, 2009 at 1:41 pm
yeah, people say that all the time. kinda like the person above you
bobzemuda- October 16, 2009 at 1:18 pm
I know people say this all the time, but they should really fold the current divisions into the UFC and then use the WEC as a minor league for all weight classes. There are plenty of fighters they could keep from going to bigger shows, and it would also give them the ability to take people like, say, Keith Jardine, and drop them down to rack up a few wins before putting them in against the top talent again.
MyFightWiffaCheeto- October 16, 2009 at 1:16 pm
Oh and P motherfucking S... Cerrone is going to finally end Baby Sylvia's life instead of crippling him for nine months, win the title, then fight Bendo again say in April or so.
MyFightWiffaCheeto- October 16, 2009 at 1:15 pm
"Because while it may not be cool that Benson Henderson got bumped a rung down the title ladder, it's definitely not cool that his incredible fight against Cerrone took in just 8% of the viewers that Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson did."

Say Word! Fucking right.

I don't think ZUFFA should fold the WEC entirely, I just think that it needs to be where the UFC sends fighters that drop a couple fights in a row. The minor leagues and farm system of the UFC.

Bring back all the weight-classes and have it be like Soccer in Europe, the team (or fighter in this instance) isn't good enough, they go down to the minors to prove themselves worthy of fighting for bigger purses again in the UFC.

Trufleshufle13- October 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm
i was with ya last week on the decision, but i watched it again last night. as much shit as im going to get for this, i really think Henderson won that fight. He took him down whenever he pleased and as much as you can say he didnt finish from the top, he was rarely just laying there. he was always postured up and always throwing bombs down.

you can say all the submission attempts were what gave Cerrone the win your eyes but he didn't finish any of them. the same way Henderson never finished any of his pounding attempts. also, the point where he started screaming to the ref the he was knocked out on top, you can watch and see in the replays that he never stopped moving. he actually passed his guard as he was "knocked out."

They were both just very stubborn guys that wouldn't stop. Cerrone wouldn't get knocked out and Henderson would not tap. but in the end Henderson had control of most the fight.

have at it CP.