World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) 51 will be hitting Broomfield, Colorado tonight with what promises to be an exciting evening of fights. With a card that boasts a main event pitting “Junior” Jose Aldo (16-1-0) against “Pitbull” Manny Gamburyan (11-5-0), the attention to the headliner may be detracted by a rematch between “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (10-4-0) and Jamie Varner (16-4-1). In what is anticipated to be a grudge match for the ages, many MMA and WEC fans are envisioning an absolute war that makes every other fight on the card look like a pillow fight.
The performance that Cerrone and Varner put on at WEC 38, which ultimately led to Varner winning via Split Decision, was a spectacle of sheer grit and competitiveness. Each round was a staple showing of a great combination of wrestling and boxing in Jamie Varner, and an amazing amount of will power shown on the part of Donald Cerrone. It is hard to forget the illegal knee thrown by Cerrone near the end of their last bout, despite it being deemed accidental by the referee. However, many fans can’t help but wonder if it affected the judges’ score cards. Now, after a year and eight months of bad blood boiling between the two contenders, the question of “who should have won that fight?” will be answered.
Both men are coming off of recent less-than-spectacular performances. In his last fight, Varner drew even against “The Prince of Persia” Kamal Shalorus (6-0-2) in June 2010 and a submission loss to “Smooth” Ben Henderson (11-1-0) at WEC 46. Cerrone lost to Henderson as well in his last fight in April, so there is no doubt that both men will be looking to make a comeback in tonight’s match up. Since Varner hasn’t racked up any more wins since his victory over Cerrone in January 2009, anticipate him coming in hungrier for the win. In addition to both fighters being in dire need of making a comeback, the mutual animosity between Varner and Cerrone promises an action-packed, explosive fight.
While Varner does have the wrestling skills to put on another clinic in tonight’s bout, he has ventured away from that base and instead seems to be testing his stand up. If the former champ throws away his wrestling background and tries to be a knockout artist, it will play right into Cerrone’s game plan. Varner continues to rely heavily on his often successful takedown attempts, but now looks more to finish his opponent with ground-and-pound, all the while neglecting submission attempts as we saw in his fight with Henderson. Time will tell if Varner’s boxing ability compensates for what he lacks in submission attempts.
Cerrone’s resilience and overall toughness will once again prove to be a huge challenge for Varner. He has tremendous submission and kickboxing abilities that will work to his benefit if Varner tries to use his overpowering wrestling to control where the fight goes. Cerrone is constantly improving, and while he never strays from his submission background that has given him quite a few wins, Cerrone has undoubtedly evolved into a better fighter than was seen in his last meeting with Varner. More simply put, Varner has the wrestling and Cerrone has the submissions. Expect Varner and Cerrone to go back and forth with their striking, with the former trying to corner Cerrone into a ground-and-pound session in hopes of achieving a knockout, and Cerrone either finding his way to sweep Varner on his back or tap him out from his guard with a Triangle Choke or Arm Bar Submission.
The bottom line: Cerrone takes the win by way of Submission (Choke) in the third round at the two minute mark. Cerrone has the tools to win no matter where Varner decides he wants to take this fight, whether it be utilizing the four-inch reach advantage in stand-up where he could land some good knees and kicks and some solid jabs and crosses, or on the ground where Cerrone will more than likely catch him in a submission and end in a Triangle Choke.
Be sure to catch WEC 51: Aldo Vs. Gamburyan tonight at 9 PM EST, live on Versus.