Matchmaker Sean Shelby On WEC 43, Varner-Henderson Title Fight

By Greg Savage Oct 11, 2009
WEC matchmaker Sean Shelby was smiling from ear to ear after Benson Henderson defeated Donald Cerrone Saturday night in San Antonio. It was apparent the 10-fight card -- a slate that, due to injuries, seemingly changed by the minute in the weeks leading up the show -- had lived up to his expectations.

“I am just really happy that everyone showed up to fight,” said Shelby, who took over matchmaking duties earlier this year. “Tonight’s show is what MMA is all about to me.”

He was especially pleased with the main event where Henderson decisioned Cerrone in what was easily the fight of the night and could be a contender for fight of the year.

“That was terminator vs. terminator,” chuckled Shelby. “I was just in awe watching that fight. It had everything. There was standup, there was grappling, and the submissions; I couldn’t even watch at one point when Cerrone was bending Henderson’s arm. That was one of those fights that goes by so fast, I didn’t even realize it was the fifth round. You hate to see a fight like that end.”

Indeed, it was a great fight, but the outcome has left the WEC without the Cerrone-Jamie Varner rematch that has had the MMA world buzzing since their scintillating title scrap last January. The two men have not been shy about their dislike for each other and the fight would have been an easy sell for WEC.

Varner, who has not stepped back into the cage since his win over Cerrone due to a host of injury issues, is set to return and will have to face Henderson instead of his rival. According to Shelby, that fight will happen at a proposed Dec. 19 show, should Henderson’s camp deem he can get ready by then.

Varner has already been cleared to return to action and he informed he is starting his training camp on Monday.

As for Cerrone, he has a pair of high profile rematches on his plate once he works his way back to the top of the division. Speaking with the media after his tough loss, “Cowboy” stated that he agreed with the decision and that he felt he still had some work to do on his game. He told WEC general manager Reed Harris that he would prefer to take a couple more fights before thinking about a Henderson rematch.

“Donald has come a long way in the last year,” said Shelby. “His takedown defense is much better than it was in the Varner fight. I would say he is one or two fights away from another shot at the title.”

In other WEC news, Shelby stated that Dominick Cruz would definitely be next on the docket for bantamweight champion Brian Bowles. He could not say when the 135-pound title would be contested, because Bowles still has not been cleared to fight.

Damacio Page, who suffered his only loss to Bowles, was impressive again in defeating Will Campuzano by submission in just 62 seconds. Shelby said Page asked him for a quick turnaround and said he could join the December card.

Possible opponents could include Akitoshi Tamura, the man he was originally scheduled to face at WEC 43, or any number of top bantamweights. Takeya Mizugaki, Antonio Banuelos and Charlie Valencia were also mentioned as potential contenders at 135 pounds. Valencia defeated Coty Wheeler at WEC 43.
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