Varner: Interim Title Is ‘Glorified Second Place’

Jul 1, 2009
Donald Cerrone will meet Benson Henderson for the interim WEC lightweight championship at WEC 43, but current titleholder Jamie Varner says the gold they’re fighting for is “garbage.”

“It’s funny; it’s like the interim belt is a glorified second place,” Varner told Sherdog.com. “To me, I think that’s bulls--t. The interim belt doesn’t mean anything. They have a belt, but they don't have the belt. It’s garbage.”

The interim title fight between Cerrone and Henderson will take place Sept. 2 at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio.

“I really like Ben,” Cerrone said. “We came up in Ring of Fire together. I have nothing bad to say about him at all. He’s a real good guy.”

Henderson (9-1) expressed excitement about the opportunity to fight for the interim belt and similar sentiments about his showdown with Cerrone. Though fighting someone with whom he rose through the ranks was not his first choice, the two lightweights are professionals and “it is what it is.”

Cerrone (10-1, 1 NC) -- who lost an abrupt five-round split decision to current titleholder Jaime Varner in January after an illegal knee halted their bout -- was not so kind in addressing the still-injured WEC 155-pound kingpin.

“B---h a-- Varner,” he said. “When he’s talking behind a computer or his phone, he’ll talk like hell, but when push comes to shove, he ain’t gonna do nothing. He’s scared.”

Varner, aware of the accusations, asserts, “That’s definitely not the case.”

A broken hand suffered during the Cerrone fight has become a frustrating roadblock for the champion. The Arizona Combat Sports representative recently returned to the gym but was quickly brought back to reality.

“My strength is coming back,” Varner said. “It’s just the doctor won’t release me. To fight or to do anything, I need him release me in order to be ready for that fight in September.”

WEC General Manager Reed Harris confirmed Varner had accepted Cerrone’s challenge after “Cowboy” defeated James Krause at WEC 41 on June 7. In addition, Cerrone caught wind of Twitter posts from Varner, which hinted at a return. The combination tested Cerrone’s patience.

“Dude, figure it out,” he said. “It doesn’t take nine months for your hand to heal. You’re punching walls? I don’t know what you do.”

Cerrone and Henderson agree they will not be true champions until they dethrone Varner.

“I think it’s just a step [to become] number one contender,” Henderson said. “It’s for a chance to step in the ring with Varner, so that’s what we’re both looking forward [to].”

Cerrone wants a rematch with Varner.

“I don’t want like a fast knockout or fast submission,” he said, noting he prefers to fight people he dislikes. “I just wanna haul his a-- up and down the mat for five rounds."

Varner would be happy with a Cerrone win, so he can “shut him up.” If Henderson wins, it could clear the way for a unification bout in Varner’s home state of Arizona. He aims for a December return.

Varner plans to compete in triathlons to stay in shape while he rehabilitates his hand. An appearance on TLC’s reality program “L.A. Ink” is also on deck. He claims a loss of respect for Cerrone -- whom he believes lacks class in interviews, he claims -- will keep him motivated through the long layoff.

“I’m really looking forward to a rematch,” Varner said, “but he’s got a real tough fight on his hands with Benson Henderson, so he needs to not worry about me and focus on that.”

Aware of the deepening war of words between Varner and Cerrone, Henderson admits being caught in the crossfire makes him feel like a “third wheel.” He focuses on the competitive aspect of the sport.

“I’m not that popular or whatever,” he said, “but I just want to say give me a chance. Watch this fight against Cerrone.”
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