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Steve Cofield

Vicious leg kicks, nasty low blows and all Varner and Shalorus get is a draw

Steve Cofield

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That was a helluva coming out party for Kamal Shalorus. The Iranian born Olympic wrestler turned MMA fighter hung with former WEC lightweight champ Jamie Varner. Had it not been for him constantly missing the mark with inside leg kicks and cracking Varner on the cup, Shalorus, in just his seventh MMA fight, could've pulled off the huge upset. Varner, with the much faster hands, landed some nasty legal shots of his own. In the end, there was no winner as the two judges split on the decision, both calling it 29-27 and Cecil Peoples said it was 28-28 in the main event of WEC 49 in Edmonton.

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Shalorus wrestled for Great Britian in the 2004 Olympics but has a quickly improving standup game. Varner was clearly the better striker with his hands but Shalorus landed so many leg kicks that the former champ slowed badly down the stretch. Part of that may have been the multiple low blows. Shalorus (6-1-1) landed a few borderline shots in the first before two nasty kicks to the groin in the second. He lost a point for the second low blow. The worst illegal blow he landed came less than 30 seconds into the third. Varner dropped to his back and was down for a while. Surprisingly, referee Josh Rosenthal decided not to penalize Shalorus another point. Varner complained.

"Did you take another point from him," asked Varner. Rosenthal said he didn't. "[Expletive] dude! You have to take a point."

That was a key moment. Rosenthal takes another point away there and Varner wins the fight. Varner coasted down the stretch. It was hard to tell though if he thought he had a comfortable margin or the combinations of leg and groin kicks had sapped him.

It's too bad that the low blows became a big story. The force of the legal strikes through the first two rounds was amazing. Shalorus got the better of the kicking game but it was Varner who landed the harder punches. He wobbled Shalorus on two occasions but the Iranian quickly recovered and even put his hands up to signal that he wanted and could take more. Varner cause was also hurt in the middle of the second when he appeared to have injured his right hand. He landed a nice combination right off the second low blow restart but his right hand bounced off the top of Shalorus' head. Varner immediately grimaced and shook his hand. He indicated after the fight that he though he broke his right hand and may have broken his foot.

At the close of the fight, when cutman Jacob "Stitch" Duran cut the wraps off of that right hand, Varner yelped in agony. The Arizona-native is just 25 years old but he's had way too many issues with his hands and feet. It's starting to look like a problem that could possibly cut his career short.

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