WEC 43 Preview

WEC 43 Preview

By WEC.tv Oct 8, 2009
The AT&T Center in San Antonio will play host to the snakebitten WEC 43 “Cerrone vs. Henderson” card on Saturday, and I know I’m not the only one surprised to see this show on the verge of coming together.

It seems as if every other day has brought news of an injury that sets off logistical nightmares as the WEC struggles to keep the card up to the high standards they’ve set as arguably the world’s premier home for talent south of the lightweight division.

The end result shows just how much work went into the production. Despite missing a headlining superstar, the main card features some of the promotion’s premier talent in matches that should keep everyone champing at the bit for more from Zuffa’s little brother. The main event pits top contenders Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone for the interim lightweight title, and backup bouts star jiu-jitsu demigod Raphael Assuncao, lightweight blue-chipper Dave Jansen and the intense fire that is Damacio Page.

So let’s get in line with the routine and dig in for some top-tier fight talk that will undoubtedly be torn asunder by the actual results come fight night. The upside is that it means more hate, and we all know that without more hate, my plans to build a 56-story luxury hate-scraper will have to be put on hold.

Donald Cerrone vs. Benson Henderson

The Breakdown: With Jamie Varner’s laundry list of injuries joining the intensive care hall of fame, the WEC is matching top contenders Cerrone and Henderson to determine an interim lightweight champion and build a suitable storyline for Varner’s impending return. Beyond the peripheral concerns, the matchup pits two of the WEC’s most offensively versatile fighters who also happen to have all the defensive abilities of a soft-shell turtle. The problem for Henderson is that he can’t match Cerrone’s repertoire or the fluidity with which the lanky Colorado cowboy combines his spectrum of skills.

If Henderson tries to strike with Cerrone, he’ll struggle to establish his range against Cerrone’s reach. Cerrone also has the advantage of a true kickboxing pedigree while Henderson relies on pure power punching. Although Henderson doesn’t have to worry about getting wrestle-stomped by Cerrone, he probably doesn’t want any part of a grappling match with him, considering that Cerrone’s guard is more aggressive than a door-to-door salesman on PCP. One way or another, it looks like Henderson is walking into a fight where his only choice will be how he loses.

The X Factor: Varner wrote the book on how to beat the previously undefeated Cerrone. If Henderson is to have any shot in this fight, he needs to follow it to a T by using movement to get inside Cerrone’s reach and blast away at his chin. Varner proved you can starch Cerrone as long as he can’t get his own shots off, but Henderson will have to retool his game to incorporate more movement and tighter punching to make that happen. There is a world of difference between a slugfest and a strategic striking match, and as obvious as that may sound, many fighters fail to make the distinction. Henderson’s success will depend on his ability to walk that fine line, and he doesn’t have the track record to put anyone at ease.

The Bottom Line: If nothing else, Henderson will make it interesting by coming right at Cerrone with the kitchen sink in tow. Cerrone will respond by taking said kitchen sink and breaking it over Henderson’s head, metaphorically speaking. Unless of course the WEC decides to allow kitchen sinks in the cage for this fight, in which case we may witness the greatest fight ever committed to video. Either way, a wild striking battle eventually turns in the favor of Cerrone, who will finish a dazed Henderson on the mat late in the opening stanza.
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