Las Vegas, NV — A veteran of more fights than almost anyone in the UFC (he’s tied with Jim Miller for the record currently), it’s safe to say Donald Cerrone has been there, done that when it comes to fighting. Thirty-three fights in the octagon and counting. Number thirty-four will come this Saturday at UFC 246. Against Conor McGregor.
It’s been a different sort of fight week to this point. The biggest story, outside just how much Conor McGregor will really take home for his return, and how much of a red panty night Cerrone is getting, has been the amicable nature of the headlining pair.
Past McGregor fight weeks and press tours have been steeped in animosity. Clashes with opponents became the norm. But with Cerrone, the Irish star has taken a different approach: respectful. Friendly. Charming.
Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press at the UFC 246 media day Thursday, Cerrone (36-13, 1NC) revealed he was was ready for McGregor’s more traditional approach.
“I was excited to sit back and have a chuckle,” Cowboy said, before admitting that “you just don’t know what he’s going to say. What would he have said? ‘You lost your last two fights!’ Yeah, and? Couldn’t really talk bad about me being a good father or a good role model. So I don’t know what he would have come at me with. But I was ready.”
Instead, observed Cerrone, McGregor did the opposite, with “his witty little charm. I think the press conference, he threw everyone for a loop.”
The Irish star, the UFC’s biggest by far, “has such an awesome platform,” Cerrone pointed out. “Why not be a good role model? Why not be a good person? So it was cool to see him sit there, and the same thing I’ve been preaching my whole time — you can steer this vessel any way you want. It’s good to see him making the right path. I like it.”
If it sounds like Cowboy is fairly high on McGregor, it’s because he probably is. Cerrone, who was an early doubter, came around on ‘The Notorious’ like a lot of other observers. “Just like everybody else, when he started doing exactly what he said he was going to do,” Cerrone said when asked about when he realized McGregor was the real deal. “And when he got up on stage, he speaks very well. He grew the sport tremendously. The dude’s a superstar. He speaks well in front of the media. He brings a lot of eyes, a lot of attention. Right around that time I was like ‘this dude, he’s the whole package, for sure.'”
If all goes well Saturday, Cowboy Cerrone will bounce back into the win column in what can be considered the biggest fight of his career. That’s saying something, given Cowboy has competed for gold in multiple promotions. But with a win, then what?
Cerrone, as has been his m.o. over the years, isn’t planning too far ahead. “I’m just looking to go in there and have a good time,” he said. “I do this for me. The money and everything’s great, but I literally love doing this. So what’s next? I don’t know. Sunday I’ll probably talk to Dana [White, UFC President] before loading up my bikes and heading home. Then load up my snowmobiles and go play in the f*cking deep-ass snow we’re getting at home right now. So that’s what’s next for me: go play, go have fun. And Saturday night, I get to go have the most fun I’ve ever had. I can’t wait.”
Cerrone would love a shot at Jorge Masvidal‘s BMF belt, he admitted. Though he also posited that Masvidal might not be too keen on that, given ‘Gamebred’ already got the better of him a few years back.
Still, “I’d love it,” said Cerrone. “If he wants to give me the opportunity, absolutely. I feel like I’m one of the last fighters. Him, Diaz, there’s only a handful of the real fighters that are left. So if he wants to get in there and mix it up, hell f*cking yeah. But until then, Saturday night is what I’m looking forward to.”
Outside of that, Cerrone’s future is likely to be back at lightweight. “The problem is, those guys at 170 are so big, hit so hard,” Cowboy answered when asked about sticking around the welterweight division. “Throughout camp, I’m like between 174 and 178. I’d have to drink a gallon of milk to get over 180.”
Watch the full UFC 246 media day press conference with Cowboy Cerrone above!