Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 | midnight
If Donald Cerrone had his way, he’d be punching Jamie Varner in the face tonight in San Antonio and taking away his World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight championship.
“I'd like to punch him in his face every time I see him. I just don't like the dude. He's a punk,” Cerrone said of Varner.
“He just bugs me. You know he's just one of those people you just see and I hate his face."
Unfortunately for “The Cowboy,” he won’t get his wish of squaring off against Varner. But still the 26-year-old could leave WEC 43 as a 155-pound champ, albeit of the interim variety.
That is of course, he can put his hatred for Varner aside and focus on former training pal and top contender Ben Henderson.
“You know Ben is the guy who’s in the way of me getting to Varner. So you know of course, my mind is on Varner constantly but you know that’s what gets me up and gets me going is getting through Ben to get to Varner,” said Cerrone, whose only lost in mixed martial arts was to Varner.
In January, Cerrone accidently connected with a knee to Varner when he was down. When it was determined Varner could no longer continue, the match went to the judges where Cerrone lost by a split decision.
Cerrone was hoping for a rematch but Varner, who has been nagged by a broken hand, hasn’t been cleared to fight.
Next up was Henderson at WEC 43, which was originally scheduled for Sept. 2 in Youngstown, Ohio.
But an injury to Henderson in training camp forced the postponement of the fight, which now the 10-card event, set for 7 p.m. PT on Versus is in the home of the Alamo.
Despite the delays or the non-ideal opponent, Cerrone says he must be careful of Henderson and his dangerous ground game.
“You know that was my first lost and I’ve got to look back and assess what I was doing wrong. You know I couldn't just get away with letting people take me down,” Cerrone said. “You know you start getting to the higher levels, those guys are like Ben. You know you can’t just submit them out of nowhere. So I stepped back and assessed what I need to do, work on my take down defense, work on straddling. There are a lot of things that I need to work on that I knew I put on the back burner.”
But Henderson, who trained with the dangerous kickboxer in Colorado, said he wouldn’t mind if Cerrone forgot to bring a couple of those tactics to the AT&T Center.
“It’s a huge opportunity. I’m really appreciative of it. And it’s a big stage to showcase you know something I’ve been working on for a long time and to show people hey, ‘This is what I do, I’m pretty good,’” said Henderson, who is 9-1 in MMA with his only loss coming to Chad Klingensmith in his second fight.
“To you know be considered you know top contender you know perhaps from the best guys on the planet at 155. So I’m just thankful for it you know.”
Cerrone’s hatred for Varner can’t be more evident, he admits to having a soft spot for his friend Henderson — who he promises will impress the crowd.
But then again, a win over Henderson gives Cerrone his shot at redemption.
“I mean that’s what fires me up the most. So not looking past Ben by any means, but the motivation to get through Ben to get to Varner is what really keeps me going, man,” Cerrone said.