We all wanted Cerrone vs. Ferguson, going down this weekend at UFC 238, to be a five round fight — and so did Cowboy Cerrone.
Chicago, IL — If you had to pick a single UFC fighter and say “that man embodies fighting,” it might very well be Cowboy Cerrone. The lightweight — when he’s not moonlighting at welterweight — holds records for most wins in UFC history, most finishes, most post-fight bonuses, and is second for most fights. The man born Donald Cerrone is fighting, at least it seems that way.
It’s why fighters love him. Why fans love him. He loves to fight, lives by the “anywhere, anyone, any time” rule, and always entertains. And he’s right back in action this weekend at UFC 238, against former interim champion Tony Ferguson. Just five weeks after defeating Al Iaquinta in the main event of UFC Ottawa.
Like everyone else, Cerrone (36–11 (1)) is excited for a fight that has “barn burner” written all over it. Yes, those match-ups excite him as well, he told reporters including Cageside Press at Wednesday’s open workouts. “Yeah of course man. Saturday, I love being out there. I love putting on a show and fighting,” he said. “Tony brings all the energy that matches up for a great fight. Non-stop, who knows what’s going to happen. I got a pretty good idea, but in this sport, anything can happen man.”
Like the rest of us, Cerrone himself wishes the fight was five rounds. “I wish it was five, but no.” Even with three rounds, and despite his own tendency to start slow, Cerrone sees an advantage. “Tony’s style puts him in danger a lot, so we’ll see if he can take the punishment.”
There are a few other factors as well. “Him moving backwards, he’s not very good,” Cerrone estimated. “On the ground, I feel like I’m better.”
He’s anticipating that Ferguson is “going to try to pressure me, I’ll pressure him right back. We’ll see.”
In the midst of cutting weight, Cerrone reminded reporters how much the process, frankly, sucks. “It’s brutal man. F*cking last five pounds are hell. I don’t have the energy to work out, never do. I look like shit, I feel like shit.” So he skipped the workout, as he’s done in the past. “I just don’t do it. I stay in my lane.”
It’s not the only time he’s felt off before a fight, mind you. Cerrone was vocal back at UFC Ottawa about not feeling great before his fight. That might have been more than the weight cut. As to how he got through it, “Don’t have any idea. Forty-three or forty-four fights, I still haven’t figured that sh*t out. So wild, man. It’s a crazy ride. I don’t have the answer, I don’t have the secret to it or else I would have figured it out years ago. I don’t know.”
Maybe five rounds would have helped that. Either way, he would have preferred that against Ferguson. “I just like five rounds. I’m one of those guys that gets stronger and faster as the rounds go on.”
Training for a fighter like Ferguson is no easy task. “I don’t know very many people who fight like him,” Cerrone admitted Wednesday. “Lando, who he fought, kind of has that same unorthodox-y wild style, but no, not really.”
Yair Rodriguez and Brandon Davis were two of the names Cowboy brought in to help with preparation. “Guys that are kind of flashy and move, have the rubber guard,” Cowboy said. But “I guess I don’t train for just one guy, we always go in there and just overall, get to it. The coaching staff puts together a game plan of what we think he’s going to do. We drill those and sh*t, hopefully we’re ready.”
He almost always is, win or lose.
Cerrone has branched out over the years, dabbled in acting, but one place you won’t find him, apparently, is in the Bare Knuckle Boxing scene. Asked about the sport, which has had a bit of a resurgence in the U.S., Cerrone said that “I feel like when you go to those little towns and see those crazy strip clubs where strippers go to die, I feel like that’s where fighters go to die.”
“I’m a fan of Leonard Garcia, he went and did it, I went to watch one of his fights, but it looks brutal, man. It’s hardcore. That’s hardcore. It’s like a street fight.”
So no bare knuckle fight then. And no Conor McGregor fight at this point, either. While it’s a subject that may have been beaten to death at this point, there was a time when the two were expected to face off. Asked whether he’d take a title fight, or the McGregor fight that might pay more, Cerrone retorted “Yeah but does it?”
This is a familiar refrain. Fighters are under contract. Their purses are set. Unless you have PPV points — now likely a thing of the past in the ESPN era — a fight is a fight. Even if he were guaranteed more money, however, the Cowboy Cerrone of today pass on McGregor.
“Conor’s had his shot. Sit your ass down now, f*cker.” Instead, the choice would be to “take the belt.”