XFO 39 Preview: Jeff Curran and Jamie Varner Look to Impress and Work Towards UFC Return


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A couple of WEC veterans will look to make a big impression this weekend as XFO hits Chicago’s Sears Centre on May 13.

Former WEC featherweight turned bantamweight Jeff Curran will lead the card, but he is heading back to 145lbs after his initial opponent Joe Pearson was knocked off the show after being involved in an automobile accident.

Curran will now face replacement fighter Billy Vaughan, who has a habit of stepping up on short notice lately. Vaughan took a fight with Jorge Gurgel in Strikeforce on short notice back in March, but ended up being submitted by the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in less than a minute.

Vaughan will take on Curran in the main event now taking place at featherweight, with Curran coming back from elbow surgery that has kept him out for the past several months. Now healthy, Curran is determined to make his way to the UFC’s bantamweight division and he hopes the next step will happen at XFO this weekend.

Curran was actually scheduled to be out of action until mid-2011, but recovery went better than expected and after almost being a one-armed fighter for the last few years, he’s excited to see what he can do now.

“I never really thought that my arm played that much of a role, but now that I see the habits that I developed training and protecting it, less sparring because of the pain, and all that, not having training partners throw head kicks on that side, and it was a little bit of a bump in the road to slow me down,” Curran told MMAWeekly.com.

Also on the card will be former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner, as he makes his first appearance in his post-Zuffa career. Varner ended his time in the WEC going 0-3-1 over his last 4 fights, and was released from the promotion following a loss to Shane Roller at WEC 53 last December.

Much like Curran, Varner is looking to make an impression in his fight at XFO to start the road back to hopefully get another shot in the UFC. Varner will take on Tyler Combs in a catchweight bout of 165lbs on the card.

Varner is still in talks to possibly take a fight with Shinya Aoki in Japan later this month, but for now he’ll concentrate on facing Combs in Chicago.

Funny enough, Tyler Combs also has a connection to the Strikeforce card that took place in Ohio in March as he was the original opponent for Jorge Gurgel on the show, but droppd out at the last minute with a training injury.

The women will take the main stage at XFO as well with both Felice Herrig and Michele Gutierrez appearing on the show.

Herrig and Gutierrez are set to appear in the upcoming MMA video game ‘Supremacy MMA’ but will first look to face the competition in Chicago this weekend.

Herrig will face Nicdali Calanoc, who is a veteran of both Freestyle Cage Fighting and Hook ‘N’ Shoot, while Gutierrez takes on Amanda LaVoy.

The card will feature 12 bouts in all with the action starting at 7pm CT in Chicago.

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