The Ultimate Fighter
What is Donald Cerrone’s greatest concern heading into his bout with Patrick Cote? Figuring out how he is going to get to Ottawa.
Actually, first he had to figure out exactly where the Canadian capital was; then he had to figure out how to get there.
“In my mind, I was like, ‘Ottawa? I’ll just drive,’” admitted the UFC outlaw who approaches things from the opposite end of the spectrum compared to most of his contemporaries. “I thought it was above Michigan and I’ll come back through the Great Lakes.
“Yeah, no. Way no,” he laughs, realizing that Ottawa is about 250 miles northeast of Toronto and nowhere near the Great Lakes. That still hasn’t dissuaded the perennial contender and constantly entertaining scrapper from hitting the road as only he can.
“I just got a new RV, new boat,” he said, grinning a mischievous grin from under his cowboy hat. “It’ll be fun to come back through and hit the Great Lakes and Chicago and Lake of the Ozarks.”
As he plots out the stops on his road trip home, you can see him thinking about the adventure options he’ll have along the way and it’s clear that having fun and having all kinds of options are crucial to the man simply known to many as “Cowboy.”
Saturday night at TD Place Arena, Cerrone will step into the cage with Cote in the penultimate bout of the evening, his second consecutive welterweight clash after a lengthy and successful tenure in the lightweight division.
One of the most active fighters on the roster, the 33-year-old logged 19 appearances in the 155-pound ranks, beginning with his debut win over Paul Kelly at UFC 126 and culminating with his championship loss to Rafael dos Anjos on FOX last December. It was his second defeat at the hands of the reigning lightweight titleholder and understanding those tandem setbacks limited his options, Cerrone went searching for others and it led him to welterweight.
Instead of staying where he’s experienced tremendous success, the proprietor of the BMF Ranch just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico moved 15 pounds north, eschewing any real weight cut and opting to test himself against bigger, stronger, unfamiliar competition. He debuted in the division in February, where he made quick work of short notice replacement Alex Oliveira in the UFC’s first “Battle of the Cowboys” and now he’s chomping at the bit to get in there and share the Octagon with the resurgent French-Canadian veteran.
“It’s going to be kind of a tailor-made fight for me,” he said, his eyes lighting up as he started thinking about his version of the way this fight plays out. “I believe he’s going to try to take me down, but he’s not going to be able to. It’s just going to be what everyone wants to see – everyone loves to see knockouts. No one wants to see wrestling and boring fights; they want to see two guys go out there and try to knock each other’s head off, so I have zero head movement and I think it’s just going to be one of those fights.”
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Cote’s got a penchant for being in “those fights” too, having picked up Fight of the Night honors for his third-round stoppage win over Joshua Burkman last summer in Saskatoon and thrilling fans in Boston by trading blows from the collar tie position with Ben Saunders, the former middleweight title challenger’s considerable power and cast iron jaw getting the better of the second-round exchange that ended the contest.
Asked if he was excited about the matchup due to the strong odds of coming away with a post-fight bonus – something Cerrone has done 11 times in 20 prior UFC appearances – the great big kid grinned.
“I love bonus checks,” he said, letting out a cackle. “He’s a veteran and he’s a big guy – I’m not big at all. I’m like ‘78 right now. I love this ‘70-pound, eat whatever the hell I want diet that I’m on.
“I’m excited for the fight and just fighting. I love getting those paydays; pay my toys off and buy some new ones and just live broke, stay hungry.”
As much as he approaches his downtime with a “You can’t take it with you when you’re dead, so you might as well enjoy it now” attitude, that approach extends to his career as well, which is a stark contrast to most of his fellow fighters.
While everyone else is trying to map out their next three steps, Cerrone’s not even sure which weight class he’ll be fighting in next and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The ranking system kind of makes me a little upset,” he began, the ornery side, mixed with a little exaggeration, coming out for just a second. “They dropped me to 25th or whatever I am now, so who knows, but I’ll make ‘55. It’s tough now, where at ‘70 it’s easy – I wake up, do a little light jogging. At ‘70 the boys are so big – I’m fighting grown-ass men instead of little boys at ‘55.
“(But) I don’t know what I’m doing. When they call me and say, ‘Hey, we need you back at ‘55,’ I’m going to say, ‘Okay.’”
Of course he is – that’s the Cowboy Way.