Just look at the year Jamie Varner has had. After an 0-3-1 run with Zuffa, the former WEC Champion Varner found himself in a rut. But sometimes, the sign of a real champion is how someone bounces back from a rough time. Varner won two fights in the XFC, including one over UFC veteran Drew Fickett, before he found himself getting a call from the UFC as a last minute replacement for Evan Dunham in a fight against Edson Barboza in May at UFC 146.
Barboza had been on an absolute tear, a four fight winning streak including a leg kick TKO of Mike Lullo and a Knockout Of The Year candidate win over Terry Etim. Varner was not supposed to make it through the first round according to some pundits, but Varner came in looking sharper than ever, and it was Barboza who did not make it through the first round. Jamie Varner was back in business.
Varner got the call to be a short-term replacement yet again. Varner’s next fight was in August at UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera against the record holder for Fight Of The Night bonuses Joe Lauzon as a replacement for the injured Terry Etim, a match that was destined to be another Fight Of The Night bonus for both men. Little did anyone know how right they would be, as that fight is this writer’s selection for Fight Of The Year, and will be found on many a ballot across the internet, as well as at the World MMA Awards. Joe Lauzon captured the victory via triangle choke in the third round, but fans knew what they had just witnesses. After a fight like that, Varner found himself back in the good graces of the Zuffa brass, and these good fortunes would only continue into his next bout.
“The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard is known for his explosive standup, his impressive athleticism, and his questionable gas tank. Once within reach of a Lightweight Championship match, losses to Joe Lauzon, Jim Miller, and Donald Cerrone quickly derailed his hype train. With a 1-3 record in his last four fights, Guillard was coming in looking to right the ship. And when the first fight was postponed due to a Varner illness, Guillard was the first to call Varner scared and claim that he wasn’t sick. The bad blood was running rampant. And it became clear in the second fight at UFC 155 that it was on. Guillard and Varner put on a fight that could have been Fight Of The Night were it not for the barnburner that happened in the PPV co-main event between Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller. Nonetheless, Varner took home the split decision, and closed out his 2012 with a victory.
From jobless to 2-1 in his last three UFC bouts, pundits had written off Jamie Varner prematurely. At UFC 155, he showed everyone that he still has a lot left in his gas tank. What’s next for the former WEC Lightweight Champion?
Photo Credit: Jamie Varner’s Website