I’m learning to walk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
Where do I begin?

~ Foo Fighters ‘Walk’

It’s hard to imagine that less than a year ago, Jamie Varner was ready to walk away from fighting all together.

The former WEC champion had exited the promotion in late 2010 after going 0-3-1 in his last four fights, and was trying to mount a comeback tour to earn his way into the UFC, but things were just not looking up for him.

A last minute switch put Varner in the cage with Dakota Cochrane, who would go on to try out for the most recent season of the Ultimate Fighter, and what resulted was a three round decision loss for the former champion.

Looking back now, Varner knows he had no business being in the cage that night.

“I should not have fought that fight,” Varner said when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio. “Everybody told me not to fight cause I was sick, but I needed to do it. I fought tougher guys than this, I can get through it. But when I lost it took a piece of me. It sucked. I would say a week and a half after that I packed my bags in New Jersey, and moved back home.”

The same night that he lost the fight to Cochrane, Varner took to Twitter and announced that he was walking away from the sport for good. Obviously there was an emotional element that led to the hasty reaction, but still Varner wasn’t convinced that he had anything left for MMA.

Long gone were the days where Varner was dominating fighters like Rob McCullough and Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. The person that stepped into the last few fights in the WEC and his post-Zuffa career was a shadow of the champion that once proudly strutted with a gold belt around his waist.

“The pressure got so great it made me hate the sport. It made me not like it,” said Varner. “That’s the guy that you saw fight Shane Roller and the guy who fought Dakota Cochrane.”

As Varner packed his bags and headed home to Arizona he wasn’t sure what the next step was going to be, but it didn’t take long for him to find a new fire.

He got back to his roots at home working with his former trainers at Arizona Combat Sports, the team that helped build him into a WEC champion. He also started working at the MMA Lab, the team that spawned current UFC champion Benson Henderson.

“To be honest with you for me it was moving back to Arizona and training over at the Lab. I’m still at Arizona Combat Sports 5 days a week, but I’m going to the Lab three days a week and being there with all those guys and training and just the positive atmosphere and the team atmosphere that they have there, it’s unreal. That’s what really rejuvenated me,” said Varner.

With each punch thrown, with each takedown landed, with each round in sparring, Varner started to gain his confidence back and in turn he went out and flattened his next two opponents, finishing both in less than two minutes time.

Then the call came in.

Evan Dunham was injured and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva needed a replacement, so they reached out to Varner to see if he was interested. It didn’t take him long to answer ‘yes’, but there was a very daunting task ahead of him in the form of Brazilian knockout artist Edson Barboza Jr.

Barboza was an explosive Muay Thai striker with deadly knees, devastating kicks and power in both hands. Varner knew he had his hands full, but it was a chance to be back in the big show.

Like a baseball player who once saw World Series glory only to find himself buried in the minor league system just years later, Varner wanted one more chance to prove to everyone that he belonged in the UFC.

“That’s what I told me trainers, I just want to make one more run. We’ll call this like my final journey, when it’s done it’s done, I’ll retire,” Varner stated.

“I couldn’t confidently say I was going to win. I knew I could take a beating, I knew I could stand in front of somebody, I could take a beating.”

In the early going, Varner’s words rang true as he started to eat a healthy diet of leg kicks from the dangerous Brazilian, his signature strike that has finished other fighters. Then the tide turned for Varner.

He cracked Barboza with a few good shots and he saw the Brazilian was stunned, and so he rushed in looking to turn up the heat. Varner blasted away and as Barboza fell to the ground, he felt a rush wash over him.

A few more punches and the fight was over. Jamie Varner had done the impossible and defeated the previously unbeaten Edson Barboza.

“I was not supposed to win that fight. I was like a 5 to 1 underdog,” Varner said about the victory. “It’s surreal, I can’t believe people want to talk to me now. I understand people like winners, but I think the fans could see there was something different about me. That I had the passion and desire that the fans wanted to see from me, I had lost that passion and desire and they could see that I got it back.”

When Bruce Buffer was calling out his name as the winner, Varner was overloaded with emotions from the long, hard road he had traveled to get back to the top.

“Honestly, I’m back,” Varner revealed as the first thing that entered his mind after the win. “It was like I’m back but the first thing was we did it. My team, we did it. The people behind me believed in me more than I believed in myself. They’re the ones that came up with the game plan and believed I could do what I did.”

It was hard to believe that just 8 months earlier, Varner was contemplating retirement and here he was feeling like a new man standing on top of the world.

“I attribute a lot of that to just hitting rock bottom, losing my job, and just kind of going on this journey and being alone. It’s really lonely down there at the bottom, it’s a crappy place to be. But it shows you what type of person you are to be down there and to fight, scratch, claw your way back up and that’s what I did,” Varner said. “That’s what I was prepared to do.”

There’s a famous line in the Christopher Nolan film ‘Batman Begins’ that says ‘why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.’

The fact is Jamie Varner fell down and he fell down hard, but through the belief of his coaches, manager and people closest to him he made his way back. Does this mean he’s destined to become champion again one day?

The honest answer is who knows.

But there’s one thing for sure – Jamie Varner is back and he’s happy to be here, and his next mission is only to keep fighting in the UFC.

“My major focus is on my next five minutes, my next round that I have in the Octagon under the lights,” stated Varner. “I don’t care who it is, where it is, I just want to get back in the gym on Monday and start training. I just want to focus on my next round.”

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
For more
UFC News and UFC Rumors, follow MMAWeekly.com on Twitter and Facebook.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.
From Around the Web

Related News

Former UFC fighter Jamie Varner warns young fighters: Too much sparring can lead to early retirement

  • 4 days ago
  • 46 views

Last year, former UFC fighter and WEC champion Jamie Varner called it a career at the relatively young age of 30. Now he reveals that too much sparring over the years led to his early retirement. Aft read news >>

Josh Koscheck admits MMA is 'changing', but not ready to announce retirement after 5th straight UFC loss

  • 6 days ago
  • 1 views

Josh Koscheck says that MMA has evolved a lot from when he first started, but as he suffered his 5th straight defeat inside the UFC, he isn't ready to call it quits just yet. Josh Koscheck suffered h read news >>

UFC Fight Night 62 in Tweets: Pros react to Demian Maia's ground game, Josh Koscheck's possible retirement

  • 6 days ago
  • 8 views

Despite being a 37-year-old underdog Demian Maia reminded everyone he's still one of the best in the business. Maia smothered the formerly undefeated Ryan LaFlare over five long rounds to take a unan read news >>

Pat Healy in the Desert: Lightweight Talks Titan, Retirement, Life on the Ranch

  • 9 days ago
  • 2 views

When someone tells you they've wandered into the desert, literally or metaphorically, it's usually not a sign that things are going super well. Pat Healy displayed all the warning signs. The lightwei read news >>

Retirement Not an Option for Anderson Silva Following Failed Drug Tests

  • 9 days ago
  • 1 views

Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is not contemplating retirement following two failed drug tests, according to a report on Wednesday. read news >>

Josh Koscheck won't concede retirement, but says 'there are bigger things in life'

  • 10 days ago
  • 14 views

Longtime UFC welterweight Josh Koscheck said he is “pissed” and “borderline embarrassed” for what he calls a “stupid, amateur mistake” against Jake Ellenberger in his previous fight.Filed under: MMAj read news >>

VIDEO: UFC 185 Main Eventers are Packed with KO Power

  • 14 days ago
  • 1 views

From Alistair Overeem's retirement knockout of Brock Lesnar to Anthony Pettis flooring Joe Lauzon, here are the top five most brutal knockouts from UFC 185's main card fighters. read news >>

After MMA retirement: Mac Danzig on training, financial struggles, UFC job, lawsuits

  • 18 days ago
  • 148 views

What’s life like after retiring from MMA? For UFC vet and “The Ultimate Fighter” champion Mac Danzig, it’s a struggle – both professionally and financially.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

UFC Fight Night 66: Mark Munoz announces retirement following Luke Barnatt fight in Manila

  • 18 days ago
  • 2 views

...win, lose or draw. Mark Munoz hasn't had the best run as of late. The longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran has dropped three straight first-round defeats inside the Octagon, most read news >>