It’s almost here: America vs Ireland or Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone vs ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor.
While everyone is keen to see what sort of fighter McGregor has become since his last bout, in October 2018, Cerrone has been much more active – one of the most active in the organisation.
He has lost his previous two fights, against Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson, but don’t write him off, says UFC president Dana White. “Apparently people forgot [how good he is].
“‘Cowboy’ has lost two in a row. But ‘Cowboy’ has lost two in a row and gone on unbelievable runs. So let’s not count ‘Cowboy’ out.”
The 36-year-old has been around the block. In fact, he has been there, done that and got about a million t-shirts.
The UFC records
“I got $1.5m just in bonuses, that’s pretty cool. That money is gone!” Cerrone told the UFC about the $50,000 cash prizes the promotion coughs up for ‘Performance of the Night’ and ‘Fight of the Night’.
“I’ve been in the top five [ranked fighters] my entire career. There’s something in the water [in New Mexico] because we’re doing something right.”
Throughout his illustrious career, Cerrone has developed a reputation as someone willing to fight at short notice, living by the motto ‘anyone, anywhere, anytime.’
“The biggest thing about working for ‘Cowboy’ is availability,” Jafari Vanier, his wrestling coach explained.
“You just have to be available at the drop of a dime.”
Speaking to UFC, Cerrone recalled his time before joining the promotion.
“I remember in the kickboxing days, I’d get a call on, say, Wednesday and get told ‘hey, we need you in Istanbul, Turkey or we need you in Morocco or Japan – on Friday – and I would be like, ‘Hell yeah.’”
Despite his love of fighting, nerves still get the better of him to the point where, to this day, he throws up prior to walking through the curtain and into the cauldron.
“You’re there so early and sitting back stage watching fights, trying to figure out how much time you have before you have to start getting ready, but your body is not ready.
“For some reason it’s the worst night of your life, my nerves are crazy and I still throw up to this day.”
Fighting out of his personal ranch in Edgewood, New Mexico, when ‘Cowboy’ and his teammates are not being beasted in the BMF gym, they are living life elsewhere at 100 miles per hour.
He was a bull rider before becoming a professional fighter in 2006, but to keep himself and guests entertained, he has built a paintball area on site where he also houses his collection of Harley Davidsons, wakeboarding and scuba equipment as well as his speedboat.
“We have a strong team here, everyone is really competitive, but we’ve got lots of toys and exciting things to do,” says Joe Schilling, Cerrone’s striking coach.
His UFC career began in 2011 and with 15 wins in 18 fights he earned himself a shot at Rafael Dos Anjos’ lightweight belt in December 2015, a week after McGregor beat Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to win the featherweight belt.
Dos Anjos emerged triumphant to set up a fight with McGregor in 2016, however, the lightweight pulled out with injury leaving Cerrone among the candidates to fight the Irishman.
“They called me and asked if I wanted to fight Conor and I said ‘Hell yeah, I do.’”
He missed out, though, and Nate Diaz was chosen as Dos Anjos’ replacement.
Now he has another chance at McGregor on 18 January.
“I’m going to go out there and stand up with him because that’s what everyone wants to see,” he said. “Someone said earlier that’s like fighting not to win almost, but hell no.
“I’d rather go down in history as having the greatest fight ever and losing than fighting to just win and winning.
“I’m going out there to put on the line and throw down and give everyone what they want to see. To me, that’s what I want my legacy to be.
“I don’t want to be the guy that took the easy way and just ran the whole fight and tried to point fight. Hell, no. I’m going to stand and try to throw down.”
Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone
MMA wins: 36
MMA losses: 13
UFC wins: 23
UFC losses: 10