This isn’t exactly the way the WEC envisioned their lightweight division unfolding, however due to champion Jamie Varner’s unhealable right hand, top contender Donald Cerrone will now meet Ben Henderson at WEC 43 for the right to become the WEC interim lightweight champ.
Last week, Varner Tweeted that despite accepting the rematch with Cerrone a few weeks back, his doctor would not provide him the medical clearance necessary in order for him to defend his throne.
The WEC needed to step in and not only fill Varner’s spot for the card in Youngstown, Ohio, but make sure that their 155-pound division continues to move forward while their champ is on the mend.
“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,” WEC general manager Reed Harris told MMAWeekly.com. “So what we decided is we need to move the division forward. Then we decided to do an interim belt.”
Varner took a controversial split decision over Cerrone at WEC 38 earlier this year, and the two haven’t stopped trashing each other in the press since.
The fight was stopped in the 5thRound due to an unintentional knee to Varner’s head. He was granted the mandatory five-minute recovery period, however complained of dizziness and loss of vision in his right eye forcing doctors to stop the fight.
Under the regulations of the California State Athletic Commission, a fight automatically goes to the judges’ score cards when unintentional strikes leave a fighter unable to continue.
Although Cerrone’s face was much more battered and bruised, one judge did see the fight going his way as he ended up losing a split decision (49-46, 47-48, 49-46).
There’s no time line set for Varner’s return, however Harris states that as soon as he’s ready to go, they have a spot for him.
“(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,” Harris added. “As soon as he’s cleared to fight, I’d be more than happy to set up a fight for him.”
WEC 43 will be held on September 2nd, with the main bouts airing on Versus Network.
Don’t forget to follow 5thRound.com on Twitter at twitter.com/5thRound