Max Holloway has some competition from Cowboy Cerrone in terms of being Canada’s biggest [adopted] UFC star.
Vancouver, B.C. — Vancouver had plenty of story lines coming out of it following a main card full of plot twists. Misha Cirkunov’s Peruvian necktie submission of Jimmy Crute. Tristan Connelly’s David vs. Goliath upset of Michel Pereira. And of course, Justin Gaethje’s finish of Cowboy Cerrone.
Cerrone (36-13, 1NC) held his head high after the loss to Gaethje, but he was initially irked at the stoppage. So was Gaethje, for his part. One felt it was too soon. The other faulted the ref for stepping in too late.
UFC Senior Vice President, International and Content David Shaw acknowledged the controversy following the event, with reporters including Cageside Press.
“Justin Seemed upset. Cowboy seemed upset,” he noted. The ref, in his opinion, “probably gave Cowboy, given his experience and expertise and how long he’s been fighting, a bit of benefit of the doubt. Probably could have been stopped a bunch earlier.”
“Sometimes you’ve got to give some guys to see if they recover or whatever else,” he continued, “but from my position it might have been a tad too late.”
In the end, Cowboy seemed no worse for the wear, and Gaethje will move on to bigger things. It won’t be much of a step back for Cerrone, either. His superstar status seems to transcend wins and losses. He also clearly has a strong connection to the Canadian crowd, which was staunchly pro-Cowboy at UFC Vancouver. Just as they were at UFC Ottawa back in May.
Perhaps Cerrone should be up there with Max Holloway in terms of the most popular stars in the country, even without being Canadian themselves.
“Absolutely,” agreed Shaw. “Two fights in Canada in six months. It’s awesome. Plus a couple others in previous years including that Matt Brown head kick in Toronto a few years ago.” Cowboy, suggested Shaw, “connects well, I think his sensibility connects well with Canadians. Every single highlight reel or montage we had with him was him on a jet ski, mountain biking, doing a whole bunch of extreme sports. I think that just connects well with a lot of people across the country as well. Yeah absolutely, he’s definitely in that camp.”
Watch the full UFC Vancouver (UFC Fight Night 158) with UFC exec David Shaw above.