Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone isn’t thinking about his 2013 loss to Rafael dos Anjos.
On Saturday a new and improved Cowboy will challenge dos Anjos for the lightweight title at Fight Night Orlando, and that Cowboy said he plans to bring it early and often.
“I feel like I’ve changed a lot,” Cerrone said. “I’ve just worked on a couple new techniques and I’m gonna rip his mo****fu***** head off. I’m ready and I’m excited. It’s a new me.
“I’m going out there and looking to finish him. First and second round I’m coming f****** hard. You’re going to see a fast-starting Cowboy.”
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Cerrone has been one of the hottest fighters in the UFC, stringing together eight-straight wins since his loss to dos Anjos. But the champion has been no slouch, winning four in a row, including a dominant performance against Anthony Pettis to capture the title at UFC 185.
Both fighters have improved since their last matchup, dos Anjos said, but he feels that he has improved more and that will show on fight night.
“In 11 months I did five fights and I was able to improve fight by fight," dos Anjos said. "I fought Anthony Pettis, and I was a completely different fighter against (Nate) Diaz (before that). For sure I will be way better fighter now against Cerrone.”
In the first fight, dos Anjos caught Cerrone in the first round with a hard right hook that changed the course of the fight. By the time Cowboy recovered, it was too late and he lost by unanimous decision.
Now Cerrone thinks he’s better everywhere. A typically slow-starting fighter, Cowboy said his fast out-of-the-gates approach this time will earn him the win.
“He’s definitely going to try and take me down – we know what he did to Pettis,” Cerrone said. “But I’m a lot better off my back than Pettis. I truly believe I’m better than dos Anojs everywhere – standing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.
“I’m going out there to win and that’s 1,000 percent. I’m confident in myself. (I’m) Cerrone – the f****** head kick (is coming).”
As far as the belt is concerned, Cerrone doesn’t seem as excited about the strap as he does about the financial benefits that come with being the titleholder.
Dos Anjos said that he is a champion inside and out of the Octagon, and he refuses to let someone like Cerrone take his belt.
“I did it the hard way. It took me 18 fights to get my belt,” dos Anjos said. “Like he said, he don’t give a s*** for the belt. It’s how I supply my family and how I make my living. A guy who thinks like that isn’t a guy who isn’t going to take my belt away.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC