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Why Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone will forever be a fan favorite in MMA
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Why Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone will forever be a fan favorite in MMA

Donald Cerrone listens to the advice of his corner in a bout with Rick Story at UFC 202

Donald Cerrone’s recent loss to Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards at UFC Singapore served not only as a stellar main event, but also as a reminder of why the perennial lightweight contender and 11th-ranked UFC welterweight is beloved by so many.

Despite fighting sickness on the day of the contest, Cerrone made the walk to face a dangerous young opponent in Edwards, who had a huge point to prove against the man who holds the joint-record for the most wins in UFC history. After being cut over the eyebrow in one of the first exchanges of the bout, the Jackson Wink fighter smiled widely – he later commented that he did so due to him remembering just how much he loved being in the octagon.


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That is one of the many reasons why fans have a huge appreciation for Cowboy. He exudes a joy during his fights that few are capable of even feeling in such a setting. Cerrone seems almost unaffected by defeat – he has a ‘kill or be killed’ mentality when it comes to MMA, and regardless of a fight’s implications, he will always do his best to entertain the fans that have supported him throughout his long-standing run at the top of the sport, which dates back to February 2006, although Cowboy’s career and notoriety truly began to grow when he joined the WEC as an undefeated prospect in 2007. He soon became renowned as an exciting, versatile fighter with a lethal kickboxing background, a high-level ground game and an ability to end fights consistently.


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Accepting all challenges

Cerrone has never been a point fighter in his MMA career, and only 8 of his 33 wins have come by way of decision. Every time he goes on the attack, he does so with the intention of taking his opponent out. This aggressive style has cost him at times, but Cowboy refuses to change. He loves to scrap, entertain, and above all else, test himself against the very best the sport has to offer. Whether it be a hot prospect on the rise or an established top tier fighter, Cerrone is never looking to pad or protect his record – he will step in the octagon with anyone the UFC asks him too, and his legend-packed resume is all the proof you need to back this up.

Over the years, Cowboy has gone to war with former champions of the UFC, WEC, and Bellator, facing off with the likes of Robbie Lawler, Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez, and Benson Henderson. He has defeated fellow fan favorites in James Krause, Jeremy Stephens, Edson Barboza, Jim Miller, and Matt Brown. In his last three fights, all of which have been at welterweight, Cerrone has faced off against three bright young contenders; Darren Till, Yancy Medeiros, and Leon Edwards were all given main event slots because of the veteran’s willingness to step in there with anybody in the world. I would expect such bouts to keep receiving top billing, too. It doesn’t matter whether Cerrone is carrying a championship or not, fans will still pay to see him. His fights always feel special, and the American is a great asset to the UFC, who have been more than willing to allow Cowboy fight with incredible frequency throughout his run in the promotion.


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Fighting anytime, anywhere

Cerrone, who was born in Columbus, Ohio, is the embodiment of the ‘anytime, anywhere’ mindset. In a time where some fighters will pick and choose opponents, the UFC mainstay’s attitude is more refreshing than ever. He wants to make his money by fighting as often as he can. This fuels a life filled with wildman activities, as if cage fighting was not enough already. During the period of 2013-2016, Cowboy managed to fight four times in a calendar year for four consecutive years. He plans to do the same in 2018.

In January 2015, the well-rounded martial artist fought, and beat, Myles Jury and Benson Henderson in a two-week timeframe. He is always willing to step up and compete; his coach Brandon Gibson mentioned that Cowboy offered to fill in on short notice to face Mike Perry at UFC 226, even after the recent birth of his son. Whether we see him win or lose, we can always expect him to tip his hat and express his eagerness to get onto the next one.

This has helped him earn his spot amongst the very best at both 155 and 170 pounds. Donald Cerrone never demands a title shot, nor does he sit out and wait for one to come his way. This may have cost him opportunities in the past, especially during his initial stoppage streak at welterweight in 2016, but Donald has been a constant presence in elite mixed martial arts for years now. He is almost certain to break the record for the most victories in UFC history, and even if he never clinches a major championship, his name will never be forgotten in regards to MMA. Cowboy is the holder of 18 post-fight bonuses in the UFC, and he possesses 14 stoppage victories with the company. No challenge phases Cerrone. If he is called upon to earn a second crack at a world championship in the UFC, whether it be on four months or four days notice, he will be ready.


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Bouncing back from defeat

While he is very competitive at heart, the former kickboxer has an admirable ability to shake off a defeat and come back stronger and more determined than before. His loss to Benson Henderson at WEC 48 fuelled a six-fight winning streak. When Rafael dos Anjos defeated him in 2013, Cerrone rebounded by going on a two-year, eight-fight undefeated run. The Brazilian would be the one who finally ended the streak, but this led Donald into a string of wins at 170 lbs that contained some of the 35-year-old’s finest work. After going 1-4 in his five most previous fights, the American is not even close to packing it in. His love for fighting has not waned in the least, and Cerrone plans to compete until the UFC tells him to stop.

Even though he is one of Jackson Wink’s most featured and successful fighters, Donald Cerrone is not in MMA to get famous. As much as he’d love to, Cowboy doesn’t need to make millions to fight. He simply loves the lifestyle and the task at hand. He would fight for free if he had to, although he deserves to be one of the sport’s highest-earners. Fans feel comfortable cheering on a man who clearly enjoys what he is doing, and there is a great likeability in his character. They know he is in the sport for the right reasons, and this, coupled with his wicked combat skills, has earned him the respect of the audience for years. Cerrone seems like a guy you would enjoy having a beer with – he is a laid back and friendly person, and he has an easy-going nature and realness about him that draws fans in to like him.

Cowboy is a fighter through-and-through. He doesn’t have a safety net. He doesn’t fear the dangers of what he does. He’s faced off with some of the greatest fighters the sport of MMA has ever seen, yet he is still here, unbroken by the pressures of high-level MMA.

It is unclear where the Donald Cerrone’s path will lead, but one thing is for sure; there are lots of fight left in him, and he will have the support of his many fans regardless of where he stands in the sport in the future.


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