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Donald Cerrone faces days of misery before thrill of fight

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Rafael Suanes-US PRESSWIRE

If past history is any indication, Donald Cerrone is about to go through a rough few days.

He thinks he's not alone as a fighter in going through that during fight week, but also thinks nobody else will talk about it. Cerrone, who faces Rafael dos Anjos on Wednesday night in Indianapolis in a battle of top ten lightweights at UFC Fight Night 27, noted he's been seeing a sports psychologist about his shifts from misery to the highest of highs over fight week.

"In practice, I love it," he said about the sport.  "I love going to the gym. And then, the day of the fight, I don't love it.  Why? Why do I get that way when you do it for the love of the game, when I'm in the fight and not thinking of anything, but the preparation the week of the fight, cutting weight, walking to the cage, I hate it and I want to enjoy it."

He made it clear once the fight starts, his misery ends.

"The last week, Burt (Watson) yelling at me, the camera in my face, oh my God it's real, it's here. That's the moment you have to fake it.  I think 99 percent of the guys are just as scared as me, but they don't want to say it. But I don't mind saying that at that point, I'm scared to death."

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"When I'm behind the curtain, my blood pressure is going through the roof."

But he's got a love/hate relationship with it and feels he has to embrace it because he also knows it won't be there to enjoy forever.

"The last week you really start thinking about the fight a lot," he said. "All of a sudden, it's real, when I'm getting on the plane. Nine weeks out you're nine weeks out, there are plenty of things to think about. It happens when I get to the city."

Cerrone said on Friday, five days before the fight, he can sense the feelings starting to come back and figures they'll hit when he gets on the plane to Indianapolis. And if anything, the weight cutting aspect, which he readily admits is a big late crash that he doesn't recommend to anyone else, isn't going to be any easier this time.

"Yeah, I won't change who I am," he said.  "I'm going to eat fruit rollups, milk duds. I enjoy them. They taste good. I suffer and then think,`Why did I eat those.' But in the moment it's delicious. But right now, I'm on the heavier side."

He said he'll be fine the moment he touches gloves and the fight starts. "But it happens so fast. The fight's over, and then the world comes back to regular speed. It's hard to explain unless you've been there. Those are the feelings I've been talking about to a sports psychologist."

"Those are feelings I'm not going to have anymore when my career is over and I need to embrace them.

"I know the end of my career is coming up," said Cerrone, who turned 30 in March.  "I know I've got about five more years.  There will be a time when I can't take the punches anymore.  That's the time I'll hang it up. That's when I'll look to do whatever else makes me happy."

Cerrone (20-5, 1 no contest), a self-professed adrenaline junkie, is ranked as the No. 6 contender in the UFC. But he's always got things going on outside the sport with his life. In February, he suffered a 40-foot fall rock climbing.  

On June 29, he was allegedly involved in what was described as a boat rage incident, similar to a road rage, and charged with a misdemeanor assault.  This came from an alleged altercation on Lake Granby in Colorado, where Cerrone was charged with third degree assault on Jeffrey Aley, at the same time Aley was charged with Reckless Operation of a boat and Reckless Endangerment, also misdemeanors.

"I have no comment," Cerrone said about the incident that just surfaced in the news in recent days.  "I'm 100 percent involved in my fight. That's (the boat rage incident) is something I can't control.  I'll all come out in due process."

He said it hasn't distracted him at all with the fight coming. "I don't have to block anything out," he said about the incident.  "It means nothing to me."

The fight is a big one for Cerrone, whose career path dating back from his move from kickboxing to MMA in 2006 has been about winning every fight until the big one that counts the most.  After being a perennial bridesmaid in World Extreme Cagefighting, he had a six fight winning streak going into a fight with Nate Diaz, that was to earn the winner a title shot at Benson Henderson's lightweight belt.

He lost that, came back with two more wins, before being blown out in a way he had never been by Anthony Pettis on Jan. 26, in a fight where, once again, had he won, he'd have likely gotten a title shot.

"Everything went wrong," he said.  "I have a giant list of things that went wrong, but that happens every time you lose. I don't plan on losing, I plan on staying unbeaten and chasing that belt."

Cerrone is one of the few people who has been in with both Pettis and Henderson, who battle three days later in Milwaukee for the championship Cerrone wants. Cerrone's first meeting with Henderson, challenging for the
WEC title in 2009, was a five-round war that got a lot of fight of the year mentions. Henderson retained his title with a very close and controversial decision.

The second fight was nothing like the first, ending in 1:57 with Henderson clamping on a guillotine choke.

"I'm looking forward to their fight," he said. "I think Henderson is really training hard for this fight, the hardest he's ever trained. He said he's here to leave a mark on his soul. I think he's going to come out strong and hard and bring it to Pettis."

Dos Anjos (19-6), comes in ranked as the No. 10 contender with his own four-fight winning streak. 

"I felt I was right up there when I fought Pettis," he said. "I lost. A win over dos Anjos will put me a little higher. I think I need one more win against a top guy after that. I'm on the hunt for the title and in the next year I'm going to chase it down."

Cerrone feels this is his fight to win or lose, and he's concentrated far more on what he's going to do than how to react to dos Anjos' strengths. "I think he's got a good ground game, but his striking is what I think he's planning on doing," Cerrone said.  "I believe I'm a better striker, a better wrestler and better in Jiu Jitsu than he is.  He's going to have to worry about what  problems I present toward him."

As far as how much video he's watched on dos Anjos, the answer is he hasn't.

"Zero," he said. "There's not any reason other than I don't have time. I'm just not worried about what he's going to do.  I don't give a s***.  I'm going there to fight my fight.  He's going to have to answer the questions that I have. I'm just plugging away training everything. He's really solid on his feet. He's going to come out and strike, but then I also think after he tries that he's going to try and take me down."