'Cowboy' up: Donald Cerrone talks Ben Henderson, TapouT House, and of course, Jamie Varner

Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone has a few choice words for another World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) lightweight … and it isn’t his upcoming opponent, Ben Henderson, who he fights for the WEC interim lightweight strap five weeks from now.

As the featured guest on MMAmania.com’s exclusive presentation of Pro MMA Radio, "Cowboy" spent most of his time talking about the only fighter he’s ever lost to — and the man holding the "other" WEC lightweight belt — Jamie Varner.

It’s not just because of the controversial ending to their fight back at WEC 38. Nor is it because of the series of barbs the two fighters have traded back and forth since beforeand after — the fight took place in January.

The most recent trash-talk stems from a close encounter the two had backstage at UFC 101, when they were left alone in a room together … well, along with Cerrone’s right-hand-man, Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia.

"(Varner) was like a deer in headlights," Cerrone recalled of the encounter, "Just scared shitting his pants. Leonard told him that he ain’t going to jump in. It was just me and Varner ... I was like, ‘What’s up, bitch?’"

But he didn’t stop there. As Garcia, who also appeared on the show with host Larry Pepe, explained further: "(‘Cowboy’) called him a pussy, a bitch, and then he almost spit in his face. But Varner just kept picking up his hands, saying, ‘I got something for ya,’ and ‘Cowboy’ was like, ‘Well come show me, bitch.’

"I just stepped back, man," Garcia continued, "I wasn’t trying to get in there or nothing. I told him, I was like, ‘Shit, this is between ya’ll, ya’ll go ahead.’ But he didn’t do a fucking thing."

Seconds later, Garcia laughingly added, "Truth of the matter is, I woulda jumped that fool."

Despite Cerrone’s dislike of Varner, he concedes that "The Worm" is a quality competitor. "As far as like the mixed martial arts part of the world, I think Varner’s a hell of a fighter. He’s got a lot of talent, a lot of potential, and I got nothing bad to say about that. It’s just when he runs his mouth on the outside of that, that makes me mad."

Some might consider this a distraction from the task at hand: Ben Henderson, a formidable opponent in his own right who’s riding an eight-fight win streak.

Even in Cerrone’s own words, he’s calling his impending fight with Henderson "a good tune-up fight for bitch-ass Varner" because he can work on his sprawl-and-brawl techniques for both opponents so he can keep the fights standing as much as possible … that is, assuming he makes it past Henderson first.

"Cerrone vs. Henderson" was originally booked for the Covelli Center in Youngstown, Ohio, on Sept. 2, and in many ways the first incarnation of this interim lightweight title bout showed a little more promise. The first major MMA event in Youngstown was expected to highlight four former world champion fighters — Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell, Frank Mir, Jens "Little Evil" Pulver and Urijah "The California Kid" Faber — to help promote the WEC’s first foray into the "Buckeye State."

But with Henderson reportedly suffering a "minor injury" just two weeks out, the event was ultimately postponed to Oct. 10, and venue changed to the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

The move surprised "Cowboy"; however, he doesn’t think it will affect him negatively, other than missing out on the payday, citing how it now puts him in "non-stop great shape" … right after a quick stop for some much-deserved grub.

"The first thing I did (after finding out about the fight being postponed) was me and Leonard went to the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet." Then it was right back to the gym for this Greg Jackson-trained fighter.

The few things that "Cowboy" did say about "Smooth" was that he wasn’t concerned if the fight goes to the ground, and in fact might try to take it to the mat himself. He says he isn’t too concerned about Henderson’s jiu-jitsu, which he concedes is good, but that his opponent’s wrestling is "sloppy."

In the meantime, Cerrone and Garcia both have their hands full with a new project they’ve put together currently being called the "TapouT House."

"We bought a brand new ranch in Edgewood," Cerrone explained. "It’s about a 20-minute drive out from the gym. We bought a 10-acre ranch … We’re opening our house to let fighters come in and train with us. See what it’s like to train at a real camp, and see what it’s like to train next to world champions, like Rashad (Evans), Keith (Jardine), Nate (Marquardt), Georges (St. Pierre) and Leonard and myself."

Cerrone and Garcia first got the idea when considering the dorms that are rented out to fighters training at Jackson Submission Fighting and wondered if there was a way to get a little help paying their own rent by renting out rooms in their own house. What started as a post on MySpace quickly turned into more than a thousand emails from prospective fighters, sharing their personal stories in an effort to secure a spot in the house.

And business is booming.

They currently have their first group of young fighters — six guys from Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and other states — who are finishing up their last week, but the house is booked through January 2010.

"The guys all want to learn," says Cerrone. "They get to sit back and say, ‘What do you do on a day-to-day basis? What do you do the week before a fight, a month before a fight? What do you eat?’ They all have their journals and take notes … We just bought a school bus yesterday, Leonard and I. We’re putting a flat screen TV and an Xbox in right now as we speak … TapouT’s going to wrap it for us. That’s the plan anyways."

They plan eventually to post video blogs showing their exploits under such titles as "TapouT House, Week One" and "Week Two" etc. But it’s not all fun and games.

"Our house is not The Ultimate Fighter," Cerrone says. "Leonard makes it real clear when they get in. It’s not The Ultimate Fighter, you can’t just go out and drink and come in and start breaking shit."

Cerrone says they are always looking for new up-and-coming fighters — guys who are "right on the cusp" — but they’re not looking for fans to join the house.

If you’re interested in training at Jackson Submission Fighting and want to attempt to secure a spot in the TapouT House, email Cerrone’s manager at BrianHamper@gmail.com. The cost is $500 for one month, half of which goes to Jackson. The fee includes transportation from the house to the gym, but does not include food, for which you’re on your own (Cerrone recommends bringing another $500 for food).

In this is too steep, think of it as an investment in your fighting future … one you’ll never forget. Oh, and if it helps, you get a lot of good schwag from the boys at TapouT — "more than $500 worth of gear, easily," according to "Cowboy."

Check out the complete interview, as well as the entire Pro MMA Radio archive with host Larry Pepe, right here.

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