Donald Cerrone file photo: Sherdog.com
“Who was that guy?”
That was the question posed by former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner to Donald Cerrone after losing a unanimous decision in their gutsy rematch Thursday night at WEC 51 at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo.
Cerrone’s takedown defense has typically been criticized in the past, but the Jackson’s Submission Fighting product looked like a different fighter Thursday, stuffing all of Varner’s takedown attempts and executing several takedowns of his own.
“As much as I hate wrestling, it dictates where fight’s going to go, and I owe a lot to that,” said Cerrone. “I mainly drilled wrestling [for this fight], and I felt good. Me taking him down and him not taking me down felt great.”
Cerrone kept Varner on his toes, using a varied striking attack interspersed with double-leg takedowns. He peppered the former champion for three rounds and came close to finishing the contest with a well-placed knee to Varner's jaw in round one.
The fight was a rematch of the pair's 2009 clash, in which Varner earned a controversial split decision after being hit by an illegal knee from Cerrone and not being able to continue midway through the fifth round. Twenty months and three rounds later, Cerrone finally got even. Leading up to the rematch, Cerrone made inflammatory remarks about the former champion, even going so far as to wish death upon Varner. He later apologized for his remarks, but the “Cowboy” still isn't quite ready to bury the hatchet. After the fight, the competitors touched gloves, but then looked like they might continue fighting long after the third round had ended.
“As I fighter, I got nothing to take away from guy. But after the fight he tried to hug me or something, and I was like, 'Get off me.' As I person I think he’s got no backbone. I still don’t like the guy,” said Cerrone.
After catching Varner with a big knee in the first frame, Cerrone unleashed a flurry that caused Varner to lose his mouthpiece.
“[I was frustrated] when he spit out his mouthpiece for the seventh fight in row. That's just how he is as a guy, and I'm glad everyone got to see that,” said Cerrone.
Although he won the fight, Cerrone still sees areas in which he can improve.
“He was hurt [in the first round], and I was having fun. I think could have finished him, but I sort of backed off and admired my work,” stated Cerrone. “I need to work on my mental game backstage. I'm a wreck back there. All you people out there thinking it's easy, [it's not]. [Fighting in front of an audience] is the hardest thing to do.”
Both fighters took home a $10,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus for their efforts.