by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
World Extreme Cagefighting is heading to Youngstown, Ohio for WEC 43. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is fighting Ben Henderson in the main event. Current lightweight champion Jamie Varner, however, is not being stripped of his title.
Cerrone vs. Henderson is for a title, but it will be an interim lightweight belt, as MMAWeekly.com first reported late last week.
There was some confusion surrounding the title designation for the Cerrone vs. Henderson bout stemming from a report on Vindy.com, which stated that Varner was going to be stripped of the belt due to the uncertain time frame for his return from injury.
“I think there was just some misunderstanding in what I said and it is an interim belt. It is not a vacant title,” WEC General Manager Reed Harris told MMAWeekly.com on Tuesday.
He added that there are no plans at all to strip Varner of his title. The interim title fight is just that, an interim championship to keep the division moving forward while Varner recovers.
“What we wanted Jamie to do prior to actually scheduling (a rematch with Cerrone) was to get cleared by his physician and his physician wouldn’t clear him. So what we decided is we need to move the division forward. Then we decided to do an interim belt,” explained Harris.
“(Varner’s recovery time) is indefinite and we’re going to wait to hear from Jamie and his physician as far as him being cleared to fight. As soon as he’s cleared to fight, I’d be more than happy to set up a fight for him.”
Until Varner does return, the WEC will have a new champion come Sept. 2 after the promotion lands in Ohio for the first time in its history. The interim title bout pits two of the top rising contenders in lightweight division, and two men that will be counting on their high-paced styles to bring excitement to the bout, not the out of the cage war of words surrounding Cerrone and Varner.
“He’s got an awesome ground game and he’s a superior wrestler,” Cerrone said of Henderson. “The only thing he lacks is his stand-up. I believe that I have what it takes to become champion. I know Ben well and like him, but when the cage door closes, I want to win that belt.”
“There are guys who get in the cage and you can see in their eyes that they’re a little bit overwhelmed by the whole thing,” Henderson said. “I don’t think I’ll be overwhelmed. I love Cerrone’s game and his ‘Terminator’ style. He just keeps coming forward. As far as standing up with him and trading some blows, I’d love to. Let’s go out there and have fun.”
Cerrone vs. Henderson will be televised nationally live on the Versus network.