WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner’s split decision victory over Donald Cerrone at WEC 38 last Sunday in San Diego, Calif., could become a costly title defense.
“I broke my right index metacarpal, completely fractured,” Varner said on Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show on Wednesday. “So I have to get pins put in it [Thursday]. Then I go next week to see my eye doctor to make sure my retina isn’t detached. And if it’s detached it could be a career-ending injury.”
Varner, who said he is still having trouble with his peripheral vision four days following the injury, has been indefinitely suspended until he can provide medical documentation that says the eye has recovered.
But it was the fight’s stoppage and the reaction it got that might have affected Varner the most.
“What hurt me the most was the crowd. They had no idea about the pain or suffering I was going through,” said Varner. “They had no idea I broke my hand in the first or second round. I don’t know exactly where. I remember one time in the fourth round that I just couldn’t hit him with it. I told my corner that I couldn’t use it anymore.
For Varner, the injuries kept on coming.
“He checked one of my kicks early in the fight and that’s where I fractured my foot,” said the Arizona Combat Sports fighter. “Then I kicked him in the head with it in the fourth and that was it. My foot was completely done. So I walked out for the fifth round with one hand and some takedowns. I had to grind out a decision… I knew the fifth round was going to be boring. I couldn’t offer anything really damaging.”
Varner (16-2) couldn’t see anything out of his right eye immediately following the illegal knee from Cerrone (9-1) that came in the final round and led the referee Josh Rosenthal to halt the bout. When a fighter can’t continue from an unintentional illegal blow, the bout goes to the scorecards. Varner was awarded the split decision.
Despite being on the winning end of what he called a “one-sided fight,” Varner said would accept a rematch with Cerrone, but the 24-year-old champion has bigger things on his mind.
“It’s scary,” said Varner. “I’m just trying to think positive. I’m trying not to think about the fans. No offense to the fans, but they’re a little bit ignorant and they have no idea the pain that I was enduring. For them to think I was looking for a way out -- I fought close to 13 minutes with a broken hand and foot and I could’ve easily quit the fight before that. Why would I endure all that pain just to quit? I’m not a quitter. I’m a fighter. I’m a champion and I’m going to try and defend my title to the death.”
Editor's Note: This article inaccurately called Varner's fight with Cerrone his first title defense. It was corrected at 4:59 a.m. EST to note that it was Varner's second title defense.