WEC title breakdown: Varner vs. Cerrone
Report by Brady Crytzer
While its Ultimate big brother steals most of the attention on fight night, World Extreme Cagefighting always delivers action packed championship fights. With its best year behind it, WEC starts off 2009 in spectacular fashion as lightweight champion Jamie “The Worm” Varner defends his 155 lb. title against the unbeaten submission artist Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
Though it’s aired live on Versus from the San Diego Sports Arena, let’s break down January 25th’s main event before the bell sounds.
Striking: Easily the most competitive component of the bout, the stand up edge has to fall slightly to Varner. While each man is a superbly accurate striker, the Varner edge comes down to the clash of styles. Donald Cerrone answered a lot of questions in the bout against McCollough, particularly whether his kickboxing-oriented style could hold up to his highly decorated opponent. This chess match however comes down boxing. Despite the fact that Cerrone has a more diverse arsenal of strikes, Varner has proven that his crisp boxing carries one punch KO power. If the champion would like to end this fight via knockout, he’d best catch the challenger early in the fight.
+1 for Varner
Grappling: As mentioned before, this fight is all about styles. While the champion has a much better wrestling pedigree and will be the stronger man, it’s the challenger who possesses fight-ending submission skills. Varner should be able to take Cerrone down with ease, but it may not be a wise choice considering the lightening fast triangles that have made “Cowboy” famous.
+1 for Cerrone
Experience: Us usual, the edge in experience falls to the current champion Varner. With seventeen professional bouts and only two losses, “The Worm” has proven to be a quite formidable under the bright lights of international television. Gaining most his experience fighting in the American Southwest, Varner has two UFC bouts under his belt. From what we’ve seen in the past, Varner has never shown any visible jitters before a big bout. Despite his own nerves of steel, Cerrone has a tendency to start slower than the champion and he carries his lands low. Also, “Cowboy’s” apparent inability to finish on the feet (in active MMA competition) gives the champion a big edge in this category.
+1 for Varner
The Verdict: A second successful defense for Varner. While the stand-up game will make this bout pleasing to the eye, the experience edge will shine through for the champion. Cerrone can make this fight interesting (and even pull out the victory) on the floor, but the champion’s impressive boxing skills can certainly end this fight early. If neither man can muscle his way to an early victory, they’ve got five championship rounds to sort out their differences.