While a couple of fights this week have gotten the quick and dirty treatment, this one is getting the full monty.
Originally slated to take place a little more than a month ago in Youngstown, Ohio, WEC 43 was moved to San Antonio, Texas due to Ben Henderson's eye surgery, poor ticket sales, and the need to have ice motorcycle racing and a series of concerts in the Covelli Center instead of high-caliber MMA.
Despite the setbacks and changes, we've still got a serious main event to break down, so let's get to it.
Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (10-1-0, 1 NC) vs. Ben "Smooth" Henderson (9-1-0)
Earning the edge in the "where you train" category was going to be hard for Ben Henderson and it has nothing to do with the work he puts in at the MMA lab in Glendale, Arizona. He works with a solid bunch of guys and has looked great since entering the WEC, but "Cowboy" earns this win easy.
Plain and simple, there isn't a better breeding ground for championship-level fighters in the sport today than Greg Jackson's in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Moving to the next area, Cerrone and Henderson share one opponent, Anthony Njokuani, who will also be appearing on the WEC 43 card.
In their joint WEC debuts, Henderson sunk in a guillotine choke on the talented, young Texan early in the second round. Almost two years earlier, Cerrone secured an arm triangle late in the first round to come away with a similar result, making this matchup essentially a wash.
Strength of competition is next and is another category that Cerrone wins hands down. This will be the second time in his WEC career that he's fighting for a title, and the first time resulted in an outstanding fight with champion Jamie Varner.
In addition to his title experience, Cerrone has scored wins over former champ "Razor" Rob McCullough and Urijah Faber training partner Danny Castillo, and made it look academic at WEC 41 against James Krause.
On the flip side, Njokuani and Shane Roller are the two toughest tests to date for the man called "Smooth," and while both have bright futures, they're not quite there yet.
Despite the clear edge in camps and compe, Henderson could have one distinct and determinant advantage heading into this fight.
Jamie Varner is going to be in attendance at this event, as the close-to-healthy lightweight champ will meet the winner of this fight in a title unification bout somewhere next year. If you have been paying attention to the WEC Lightweight division at all lately, than you know that Donald Cerrone is obsessed with Jamie Varner.
While that could certainly serve as motivation to run through Ben Henderson as he did James Krause, it could also be too much of a distraction and give "Smooth" an added opening in this Interim Lightweight Title bout.
As always, picks come tomorrow with the popular "Punch Drunk Predictions" series.
See you then.
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