Cowboy Cerrone at a Career Crossroad
On Saturday, October 21st one of the UFC’s most revered sons will grace the Octagon yet again in a pivotal matchup at 170lbs. The famed blue collared messiah, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, will look for his 19th performance bonus and 33rd win when he faces up-and-coming Darren Till.
Cerrone has long been one of the most beloved fighters on the UFC roster. His laid-back, no nonsense attitude and fan-friendly style have earned him a significant and devoted fanbase. Aside from being the UFC’s most reliable staple — often fighting 4-5 times a year — Cowboy has added consistent buzz and improvement to every card he is added to, but his hectic schedule and balls out style has likely taken a serious toll.
Although Cowboy presents a carefree attitude, he has realized some hard truths in the fight game. He is one of the biggest proponents of sparring lightly or not at all in camps. It takes a veteran fighter to realize past mistakes and Cerrone has done just that, though at times he finds it hard to reel himself in.
The Jackson-Wink fighters last bout had to be pushed backed after he was deemed unfit to fight because of a serious blood infection — although by many accounts he intended to fight regardless. This type of push-pull vacillating has come to define the UFC veteran in more ways than one.
Cerrone realizes he needs to train smarter, but he still wants to fight with a blood infection or a serious injury (provided it goes unnoticed by the commission). He recognized the weight cut to 155lbs was too debilitating and then went up to face opponents who hit harder and arguably do more damage to his body. While that move up a division paid dividends early, the New Mexico resident has lost momentum in a big way.
After finishing his first 4 opponents since moving to welterweight, Cowboy ran into Jorge Masvidal and then Robbie Lawler. Those tough losses to men at the very top of the pack are a common theme through his career.
Cerrone has fought for 3 WEC and 1 UFC title and has lost all 4 times. He is known for being an exceptional fighter that falls just short at the very precipice of achievement. That is not to say he is a journeyman, or that he has overrated. Simply looking at his 8-fight win-streak leading up to a lightweight title shot will show those claims to be false. It would be more accurate to simply apply the adage, “always the bridesmaid never the bride”.
That being said, one has to look at the level of competition Cerrone has faced. He has only lost to UFC Champions and two standout fighters: Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal. Aside from those select few, he has beaten top 5 and former P4P opponents, but at 34 years old and with 2 losses in a row it is as good a time as any to ask what is left of the crowd favorite?
The current landscape at 170lbs. is not entirely hostile to a new breakthrough contender, especially one with the following that Cowboy has. Although the Coloradan is fighting an unranked opponent on the 21st he is only 2 or 3 wins away from challenging for the belt and knowing him that could take as little as 6 months. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also supposedly penciled in for a fight at the end of the year.
Cerrone’s next fight is pretty much a gimme. He draws an inexperienced but promising prospect and in all likelihood will use him to earn momentum and a more elevating matchup. One has to wonder though, with his penchant for “choking” in big fights, if anything will change for the serial performance bonus winner. Will he always be destined to go on impressive win-streaks, only to fail at the last leg? Does he even have another win-streak left in him? Or can Cowboy put it all together and, like Michael Bisping, finally claim a world title? Cerrone’s journey towards gold or continued decline rests on his performance on Saturday the 21st against at tough up and comer who has his own story to write.