Living in the past isn’t something Donald Cerrone has ever subscribed to.
In his formative years growing up in scenic Colorado, the future MMA striking machine dedicated his mindset to forge a life worth living, and it’s a commitment he’s never wavered from. That ideology has been the fuel that has driven Cowboy to become one of the most entertaining fighters on the planet.
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“It’s all about living life and that’s what I preach to other fighters in this sport,” Cerrone said. “If I got a call today saying there was five feet of fresh snow up in Colorado and we were going to snowmobile, I’d be on my way in a heartbeat. So many fighters shut themselves off from life and put themselves in a closet for six to eight weeks at a time and I’ve never understood that. I’ll probably catch flack for taking off on a fishing trip so close to my fight, but that’s me enjoying the journey.
“That’s me enjoying my life. It’s almost like I’m living my retirement backwards because I’m living it up every opportunity I get and I’ll continue to do that until the money runs out. When that happens I’ll probably be working at Walmart, so I guess I should figure something out.”
That is just the way Cerrone is wired, and when the “Here and now” is the most crucial element in the equation, having a short memory comes with the territory. It doesn’t matter if the next step will take him further up a divisional ladder or if it’s the one that comes after being knocked down; Cerrone always keeps it moving. And his next trip to the Octagon is verifiable proof that approach is in full effect.
After coming up short in his highly anticipated rematch with lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos back in December, the Albuquerque-based scrapper wanted nothing more than to jump back into action. With none of his peers in the 155-pound upper tier ready to go, the hard-charging leader of the B.M.F Ranch threw his Stetson into the ring to take a fight in the next division.
That’s a rare move for a fighter coming off a title shot and being such an established player in a particular weight class, but Cerrone has never really marched to any beat other than his own.
“Moving up in weight is the best part. I’m sitting here at 177 pounds and I just ate guacamole and had some fruit roll-ups this morning,” Cerrone said. “I’m an hour of sweating away from losing the weight. How can I not be excited about that? Yeah, they may be a little bit bigger than me at this weight class, but I may be a little bit faster than they are. Who knows? A fight is a fight and we get to find out. That’s the best part.
“There’s nothing I can say about my last fight,” he added in regard to the bout with Dos Anjos, which ended in a first-round knockout loss. “There are plenty of people who don’t show up for work on any given day and unfortunately in my business that comes with an ass-whippin’ and that’s what happened to me. Maybe I can do some more sit ups or block my liver better, but that’s whatever. I’m back and I’m ready to get in there and throw the f**k down on Sunday in Pittsburgh.”
While the former WEC and UFC lightweight title contender was initially set to face Tim Means in his official welterweight debut, a late shake-up forced the “Dirty Bird” out of the picture and opened the door for another “Cowboy” to step in. Alex Oliveira will now enter the Octagon to face Cerrone when the UFC returns to Pittsburgh on Sunday night in a fight that is sure to be a high octane brawl for as long as it lasts.
And while fight fans have drawn the parallel to the same nicknames the fighters share and seeing who the real “Cowboy” is under the bright lights, Cerrone isn’t much interested in additional storylines. To him, a fight against another willing and dangerous human being is all he cares about. Getting into the Octagon and mixing it up with a paycheck on the line is what gets him going, and everything else is exactly that.
“Some unfortunate things happen I guess and the UFC had to scramble and ramble to find me an opponent and I guess Alex Oliveira was the guy who signed up,” Cerrone said. “So I want to say, ‘Thank you’ to him. I was on a fishing trip in Cabo San Lucas when it all went down and didn’t have any reception or Wi-Fi connection, so no one could get through to me. Thankfully, the UFC and my management know how I am about these things and that I’m not bulls**tting when I say I’ll fight anyone they put in front of me. When I finally was able to get back to Wi-Fi, everything came through and we were able to get it all finalized. I have a fight and an opponent so I’m a happy man.
“I have this fight in Pittsburgh and just smashed my truck so this fight is important to me, but it’s not the “who” in that equation that matters. A fight is a fight.”