by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
“Razor” Rob McCullough will next defend his World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight title in early February against Jamie Varner, sources from both camps have confirmed to MMAWeekly.com.

McCullough won the belt by defeating Kit Cope at the WEC’s first show under Zuffa control in January. He defended the title for the first time this September with a win over Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Rich Crunkilton. His first round TKO silenced critics who thought he would struggle with the tough veteran.

Varner fights out of Arizona Combat Sports in Phoenix. A two-time UFC veteran, he is best known for his back-and-forth battle with Hermes Franca. Since then, he defeated Jason Gilliam at UFC 68 and made the jump to the WEC in August with a win over Sherron Leggett.

“I think it’s going to be an interesting fight,” McCullough told MMAWeekly.com. “He definitely has the skills to negate my skills, and therefore so do I. I think it’s going to be a great fight for the first couple of rounds, and then hopefully he’s packed a sleeping bag.”

McCullough just returned from the Baja 1000, an off-road racing event that spans the Baja California Peninsula. He had expected to fight Alex Karalexis in November, but was unconcerned when his opponent was changed to Varner.

“I think he’s a younger version of Rich (Crunkilton),” McCullough continued. “I don’t think his submission game is anywhere near Rich’s, but he’s definitely got a quick shot, and he changes levels fast. I think his gas tank is going to be questionable.”

Champion or not, he is still anxious to prove himself as a serious competitor.

“Nowadays, it’s not a matter of ‘hey, I want to fight,’ it’s a matter of who you fight,” he said. “Because I could sit around and beat up scrubs all day long, but that’s not going to give me any joy, as long as I’m taking (fighting) for real. Hopefully, they keep (giving me) guys they think are going to beat me, because it makes my training that much better. Gives me a reason to pop out of bed in the morning.”