UFC: Cowboy Cerrone Speaks Candidly About Pre-Fight Anxiety, Bisping and Sonnen Chime In

Donald Cerrone UFC 246
Donald Cerrone, UFC 246 Weigh-In Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

When Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone says “it’s the worst night of your life”, you have no choice but to take his word for it. He’s a daredevil, a thrill-seeker, and a COWBOY after all. Whether it’s diving into the sky from high altitude, or diving into underground caves at the bottom of the ocean, Cowboy always dives headlong into confrontation, chaos and borderline reckless endangerment. He frequently rides snowmobiles, motorcycles and horses and he always rides the fine line between brilliance and madness.

He must be fearless, right? He is one of the most well-respected and well-known bad asses in a roster full of them. His accomplishments have made Cerrone a lock for future induction to the UFC Hall of Fame, and for good reason. Here are just a few impressive facts about his resume:

  • UFC 246 marks the ninth UFC main event fight for Cerrone.
  • When Cerrone steps into the octagon at UFC 246, he will hold the record for most UFC fights with 34.
  • Cerrone has the most wins in UFC history with 23.
  • Cerrone has the most finishes in UFC history with 16.
  • Cerrone has the most post-fight bonuses in UFC history with 18.
  • Cerrone has landed 1,535 significant strikes, fourth most in UFC history. 
  • Cerrone has scored a UFC record 20 career knockdowns.
  • Cerrone has earned seven knockouts in the UFC via kicks, the most in UFC history. (Transcribed by Forbes.)

On paper, you would think that he has nerves of steel, as if nothing gets to him. Based on watching his many feats of dominant destruction, you’d be hard press to be convinced that he has anything other than ice in his veins. And you’d be wrong.

According to a video package that was shown on the UFC 246 Pre-Show on ESPN+ Donald Cerrone suffers from tremendous anxiety before fights, sometimes bordering on full-blown panic attacks. He has 34 fights in the UFC, and by his own admission, vomits backstage before every single walk to the octagon. Hard to believe? Watch for yourself.

“Every single time I’m just scared and just as nervous. My legs are heavy. My arms are heavy. It’s the worst night of your life. I go and throw up. I throw up every time, still to this day.” Cerrone said in a candid interview for the ESPN-produced video package

“You make the walk. You’re smilin’, but inside you’re scared. I’m scared! I don’t know about everybody else. You’re like ‘oh my God. What the Hell is goin’ on?'”

Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping, who were co-hosting the pre-show with Megan Olivi reacted to the Cerrone video with some surprising takes. Two of the most obnoxious trash talkers in the history of MMA also shared the bottomless pit of despair that looms during pre-fight anxiety.

Chael said, “Can you relate to some of those things? He is telling the truth. I fought 50 men. I promised myself before every fight – this is the last one!”

“I’m telling you – goosebumps!” Bisping said, “That’s exactly what it’s like. Every single time, when you are back there, you’re like, ‘why am I moving so slow?'” He went on to say, “beforehand, you think ‘why am I doing this?'”

Hearing a fighter of Donald Cerrone’s stature open up about his fear and his willingness to to conquer those fears was nothing short of remarkable. When two of the best analysts and UFC fighters of all time share similar experiences, it really changes the way one looks at the caliber of athlete it takes to compete in mixed martial arts.