An ode to Cowboy

“A true cowboy knows love, pain and shame but never cares about fame.” – Anon

September 24th, 2014.

Sweat pours down the face of Donald Cerrone.

“I’ve prepared how I need to prepare and I’m ready to kick his f*****g a**. I know it’s going to be one hell of a scrap.”

2014 has been a good year for ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. Two first round finishes and a second round KO of Jim Miller in his first headline event for the UFC. An event he headlined on one week’s notice.

He finds himself on a four fight win streak. Only once before in his UFC tenure has he achieved the same feat.

“A boxing match is like a cowboy movie. There’s got to be good guys and there’s got to be bad guys. And that’s what people pay for – to see the bad guys get beat.” – Sonny Liston

Now, Cowboy faces what some might call one of his toughest challenges to date. Welcoming ‘The Underground King’ to the Octagon.

“I hope Eddie shows up and he’s the best Eddie there ever was. I hope people are like, ‘Wow, that’s the best I’ve ever seen Eddie look but he still got his a** whipped.”

There is a noticeable fire in Cerrone’s expression. He knows all eyes are on the debutant, Eddie Alvarez, a fighter many fans have lulled over appearing in the Octagon at some point.

But as a Cowboy does, he won’t go down without a fight. There is a lot at stake for Cerrone too.

“People seem to be telling me that I might get a title shot after this fight but I’m not the one to make that call.”

usa-today-8111343.0PHOTO CREDIT – USA TODAY

Alvarez comes out all guns blazing in the first round. Cerrone finds himself in the all too familiar place of being on the backfoot early in to the fight.

As the fight goes on, it becomes a firefight, but a skilled one. Both walk each other down, head down, hands up. Cowboy finds a rhythm and bests the Philly native in Rounds 2 and 3.

“Let him ride a horse. He’s a cowboy ain’t he.” – Nathanael West 

Four fights in 2014 isn’t enough for Donald Cerrone.

His activeness is becoming a staple. He gets his wish a little over three months after UFC 178, this time facing a different challenge.

Myles Jury is an up and comer. He’s on a veteran slaying tour. Besting Diego Sanchez, and most recently Takanori Gomi, his undefeated record is starting to gain recognition.

“His win over Diego (Sanchez), him saying, ‘Oh, I can’t believe I beat him that easy,’ that he’s ‘taking out veterans’ and that’s what he does – I didn’t like it. I don’t dislike him more than anybody else I would say, but now it’s time to prove it.”

UFC 182 – the stage is set. It ends up being an unimpressive display from Jury, who is unwilling to trade with Cerrone in the pocket. This is not a Cowboy type of fight. With seconds to go in the final round, Jury finds himself on his back, trying to reel in Cerrone to work a late submission.

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PHOTO CREDIT – USA TODAY 

Cerrone made a statement. What would later be known as the patented ‘F**k you’ kicks, Cowboy kicked Jury, shinbone to thigh, with a vengeance. Over and over. His frustrations were evident.

“Cowboys don’t take bath, they just dust off.” – Tornado 

Cerrone finds himself at UFC Headquarters. Post UFC 182, he stayed in Las Vegas on a mission. For one reason only. To get a fight.

“Dana was at home ill, so I went and got a bacon-and-eggs breakfast from his executive chef, and talked to Lorenzo a little bit.”

There were no guarantees for Cowboy that day. Eager to fight at any given time, he awaited a call from Dana White. A few days later, his wish was granted. But he didn’t accept the fight straight away.

“Lemme call my grandma and make sure she can make it to Boston.”

Cowboy got the answer he wanted.

On 15 days notice, Donald Cerrone faced his toughest test to date.

When some people have your number, they have your number. The Mike Brown to your Urijah Faber. The Jon Jones to your Daniel Cormier. Sometime’s it’s just not meant to be.

Benson Henderson had bested Cerrone twice in the WEC, once by decision, and later by submission. This time, they faced off in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the ultimate proving ground.

Almost two weeks after walking in to the cage opposite Myles Jury, Cowboy had vaseline over both brows again at UFC Fight Night Boston.

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PHOTO CREDIT – ESPN

Benson Henderson’s face said it all. It could have gone either way. A closely contested bout, Cerrone now finds himself on the cusp of a title shot.

“A decent cowboy does not take what belongs to someone else.” – Judge Roy Bean

One thing Cowboy doesn’t like is waiting.

Unfortunately, when you have strung up a seven fight win-streak it can be hard to find the right opponent on short notice.

Khabib Nurmagomedov has been a title contender for awhile now. Plagued by injury and inactivity, his big return is set for UFC 187. It’s being billed as a No. 1 contender bout. It’s high stakes for Cowboy Cerrone.

Social media is developing in to a platform for verbal exchanges between fighters, some positive, some not so positive. Nurmagomedov uses it to his advantage.

“I’m not mad. It’s just like, enough, man. Everyday he’s coming at me. But it’s good. Mentally, I’m fine. I’m not worried at all.”

Cerrone remembers the last time someone tried to play mental warfare. His area code was 209, that’s a hint. That was also his last loss before going 7-0.

April 29th, 2015. Three weeks until fight day.

“Are you gonna cowboy up or lie there and bleed?” – Anon

Khabib Nurmagomedov pulls out of their scheduled bout.

The UFC seeks a replacement.

In steps.. John Makdessi?

“I can’t be the guy who says I’ll fight anybody, anywhere, anytime and then not take a fight. I have to keep my word. They gave me a new opponent. I just want to fight. That’s my mentality. I’m excited”

An unranked opponent may appear to be a step down for Cerrone, but it appears this is more of a showcase than a contender fight.  None the less, it’s a fight.

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PHOTO CREDIT – MMA FIGHTING 

John Makdessi calls timeout as he feels his jaw break from a Cerrone high kick. The referee steps in.

The fight is over. Eight fights in a row for Cowboy.

Dana White gives his reaction backstage.

“He’ll fight anybody, anywhere, any time. … He always keeps his composure, he picks his shot, he takes his time. He looked great again tonight, Cowboy’s next in line.”

“Come sit on his back and try on my saddle. This ain’t for tenderfoots.” – Clancy Jean Driscoll 

Months pass.

An official announcement is made on August 13th, 2015. Dos Anjos vs Cerrone 2. December 19th in Orlando.

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It’s an all too familiar opponent for Cowboy. Two years ago his opponent’s hand was raised, but Cowboy never looked back.

He is now a title contender. And with that brings more promotional responsibilities – more of the limelight. His attendance is mandatory at UFC’s GO BIG press conference, with other title challengers and headliners.

“I see stiffness when I look in that 155-pound division. Slow, stiff. I feel like they’re stuck in the mud almost.”

A brash Conor McGregor weighs in on a possible move to 155 pounds. Cerrone, although not directly targeted, holds his ground.

“You’ve beat nobody and you think you’re gonna come up to 155 and make a statement? C’mon man. Sit the f*ck down.”

Cerrone appears to be unimpressed with the show of disrespect.

None the less, his focus lies on December 19th.

“Ain’t nuthin’ like ridin’ a fine horse in new country.” – Augustus McCrae 

It’s fight week. After a career of over 30 fights, and just under 10 years, Cowboy finds himself fighting for a major title. It’s a first on paper, but not in his approach to the fight.

“This fight feels no different to me. I just feel like it’s just another day at the office, like it’s not even a title fight. I don’t feel any extra pressure. It just feels like another day, I really do. Come Saturday night, Cowboy Cerrone will be the ‘And New’ lightweight champion of the world.”

This is it. The final hurdle. Just one person stands between Cowboy and that coveted UFC gold.

MMA-Cerrone-vs-RDA.jpg

It just wasn’t his night.

Dos Anjos seemed a step ahead of Cowboy for all 66 seconds. Cerrone just couldn’t find a rhythm, and Dos Anjos was in the zone.

“There is no better place to heal a broken heart than on the back of a horse.” – Missy Lyons 

Disappointment.

11 days pass.

“Looking to dust off the saddle and get back in there. Announcement coming soon. Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime. They call I say yes.”

There’s just no one quite like Cowboy Cerrone.

 

 

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