WEC 43: Benson Henderson Geared on Interim Gold

Nate LawsonCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2009

CHICAGO- OCTOBER 25:  People attend the UFC 90 at UFC's Ultimate Fight Night at Allstate Arena on October 25, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The Covelli Center in Youngstown, Ohio will play host to the WEC’s 43rd event this September with a card featuring a lightweight bout for the 155-pound title.

However, this fight will not be another title defense for the lightweight champion Jamie Varner.

Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone have been slated for an interim title match up at WEC 43, leaving the winner as Varner’s next opponent and the interim champion of the division.

Varner is unable to defend his belt in a rematch with Cerrone due to an incorrectly healed hand, something that could leave him sidelined for quite some time.

After losing his second shot at the lightweight belt for the time being and unwilling to wait around, Cerrone was anxious to get another chance at gold. Benson Henderson was called upon to rise to Cerrone’s challenge.

When Benson Henderson heard the news that he would be fighting for the interim belt of the WEC lightweight division, he was happy, to say the least, stating the he was “stoked” and “excited” for this career-changing opportunity.

Henderson has won his first two fights in the WEC lightweight division, boasts a 9-1 record, and now has a chance to grab a lightweight interim title very early in his WEC career.

“I did envision myself fighting for the belt at some point in time,” said Henderson. “I didn’t necessarily think that it would be after two fights, but I definitely pictured it.”

Now that a title shot has fallen into the lap of Henderson, he looks towards the future and his next opponent: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. If not for a knee to a downed opponent, Cerrone may have been able to capture a victory over Varner at WEC 38.

Cerrone has had great success in the WEC and now finds himself as the favorite in this upcoming bout, having been the No. 1 contender for some time.

Henderson recognizes the level Cerrone has risen to, and realizes the tenacity and determination of his opponent.

“No matter who is fighting, he always brings it,” said Henderson. “He just keeps walking forward the whole time no matter what you hit him with.”

Henderson also recognizes the skill set the “Cowboy” can claim, understanding the well roundedness of his opponent.

“I know he is a good standup muy thai fighter,” said Henderson. “He is a really good kickboxer. He has got some really good jiu-jitsu.”

Henderson has had nothing but good things to say about Cerrone. Fortunately, the respect is undoubtedly mutual between the two fighters.

When Cerrone was pushing for an interim title, he mentioned Henderson as the most qualified opponent, proving that Henderson is finally gaining recognition in the WEC.

After two dominant performances from Henderson, he finally believes that he is “starting to get a little bit more noticed in the WEC, in the MMA world”.

A victory over Donald Cerrone at WEC 43 would certainly aid this cause, as Henderson would be launched into a bout to vanquish the interim title, leaving one man standing with his hand raised.

Continued success in mixed martial arts is the goal for the young Henderson, who says his career will not be complete unless he is the best pound for pound fighter in the world.

However, this sport involves many stepping stones to get to the top, and Cerrone is next in line for Henderson.

The respect Henderson has shown for Cerrone does not cloud his vision of how the fight will end. Although he is not sure in what manner he will be victorious, Henderson knows that at the end of the fight, he will wear the belt.

“How I see the fight going is me with my hand raised at the end of the fight when they’re doing the announcing,” explained Henderson. “That’s the only thing I really envision when I go into my fights. My hand is the one that is going to be raised at the end of the fight.”

After only two fights in World Extreme Cagefighting, Henderson has been given a chance every fighter strives to gain.

An interim belt is on the line, and Henderson believes that he will walk away with it wrapped around his waist on that September night.

With a victory over Cerrone at WEC 43, this 155-pounder will continue his rise in the world of mixed martial arts, and take another step toward achieving his goal as the best pound for pound fighter on the planet.