World Extreme Cagefighting® announced today that the long-awaited lightweight title unification bout between reigning champion Jamie Varner and interim champion Ben “Smooth” Henderson will take place on Sunday, Jan. 10 at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Calif. In addition to this explosive championship clash, WEC also confirmed the return of former featherweight champion “The California Kid” Urijah Faber, who will be facing top-ranked contender Raphael Assuncao in his hometown of Sacramento.
“ARCO Arena is one of our favorite venues to bring fights, the fans in Sacramento are some of the best,” WEC GM Reed Harris said. “The world title bout between Varner and Henderson is a perfect way to start off the New Year. The title fight, plus the return of Urijah, makes this an instant winter classic.”
Tickets for Bud Light® presents: Varner vs. Henderson go on sale Saturday, Nov. 7 at 10 a.m. PT and will be priced at $200, $135, $75, and $40. A special Internet ticket pre-sale will be available to WEC newsletter subscribers on Thursday, Nov. 5 starting at 10 a.m. PT. To access this presale, users must register for the WEC newsletter through wec.tv. Tickets may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone at 1-800-745-3000 or by visiting the ARCO Arena Box Office. Tickets also are available online through www.wec.tv or www.ticketmaster.com.
Varner vs. Henderson will be televised nationally live on VERSUS beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. All of the network’s live WEC events are presented in HD and Spanish language SAP where available. For more information and how to find VERSUS in your local viewing area, visit http://www.versus.com/findversus.
Returning to the cage for the first time since his volatile collision with Donald Cerrone last January, lightweight champion Jamie Varner (16-2-2) is healthy and ready to prove that he is WEC’s top 155-pounder. A talented wrestler with slick boxing abilities, the 25-year-old owns a perfect 4-0 record in the organization and is eager to reclaim sole possession of the world title. Believing he is more polished than Henderson, the Arizona resident plans to make a statement on Jan. 10.
“He’s a tough dude,” Varner said of Henderson. “But I’m the champion for a reason. I have nothing but confidence going into this fight. I don’t think Ben poses any challenges or threats that I haven’t seen before. I’m ready to show the world that I’m still the true champion in this division.”
After winning the interim title by defeating Cerrone in a brutal fight last year, Ben Henderson (10-1) plans to leave Sacramento as the unified champion. Training out of The Lab in Glendale, AZ, the fighter nicknamed “Smooth” will look to use powerful takedowns to best his cross-state rival. Also known for his devastating ground and pound, the well-rounded Henderson believes that Varner’s reign atop the division will end in California.
“I think Jamie and I match up pretty well,” Henderson, a two-time NAIA collegiate wrestling All-American, said. “He’s a good boxer and a tough fighter, so I’m ready to wage war with him. I’m ready to leave it all in the cage and win the undisputed championship.”
Last June, Urijah Faber (22-3) thrilled fans at ARCO Arena with an epic, five-round performance against featherweight champion Mike Brown. Although he left the cage without the title, “The California Kid” proved that he is one of the toughest competitors in the sport, fighting most of the bout with injured hands. Fully healed and ready to work his way toward another crack at Brown, the 30-year-old hometown hero returns to face gifted grappler Assuncao. The former champ realizes he has a tough test ahead.
“He definitely has some dangerous tools in his arsenal,” Faber said of Assuncao. “But I think I will have slight advantages in every category of the fight. I’m really excited to fight Raphael in my hometown. Sacramento is my place. This is my spot and I represent the people of this town. I want to win here and climb one step closer to the belt.”
Having earned two hard-fought decisions over Jameel Massouh and Yves Jabouin since joining the WEC last year, Raphael Assuncao (14-1) is considered to be one of the top featherweights in all of MMA. With that said, his road to the world title now runs through Sacramento and the rejuvenated Faber on Jan 10. A phenomenal Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, the 27-year-old Assuncao believes he has the speed and power needed to drive past “The California Kid.” Although he’ll be entering hostile territory at ARCO Arena, the native of Recife, Brazil is confident that he’ll leave Sacramento destined for a title shot.
“A win puts me in line for a shot at the belt,” Assuncao said firmly. “I always had a feeling that I’d fight Urijah one day and I’m glad it’s going to happen on Jan. 10. I think it’s a good matchup of styles and we’re going to push each other hard from the start.”
Remaining bouts for WEC: Varner vs. Henderson will be announced at a later date. For more information, visit www.wec.tv. Follow WEC at http://twitter.com/WEConVERSUS.