ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- For a guy who failed to make it past the opening round on The Ultimate Fighter 14, Myles Jury has acclimated himself mighty well in the UFC.
At just 26 years old, the streaking lightweight prospect has racked up a perfect 6-0 record over increasingly tougher opposition ever since his show run ended against Al Iaquinta in 2012, ultimately vaulting his name into the division's top-10 and earning a crack against one of the division's top contenders, Donald Cerrone, in the co-main event of UFC 182.
But Cerrone's been at this game for nearly a decade, and in his eyes, it takes more than a few wins over fading names to count yourself among the sharks at 155 pounds.
"You talk about him being undefeated? I don't even know who the guys he fought," Cerrone said of Jury to MMAFighting.com.
"You know, Diego (Sanchez), he's talking about, ‘Oh, I beat Diego. I'm over here just crushing veterans and not worrying about it.' But he tried out for ‘The Ultimate Fighter' and lost. So he has L's on his record. He knows what it feels like to lose. So it's not like he's undefeated. I mean, on paper he is. But someone beat him. I don't know who. I don't care. He's a young guy. He's somewhat undefeated. I think I'm going to be his biggest test, and I'm coming. That's all I can say. When he gets in there with me, he's going to think: ‘Holy f**k... this dude is coming hard.'"
Always one to stay busy, "Cowboy" has fought five of the division's top-ranked fighters over the past two years, including champion Anthony Pettis. And while Cerrone lost his share of those fights, his résumé still looms large over Jury, who over that span has busied himself by dispatching what remains of the old guard, outpointing Diego Sanchez and knocking out Takanori Gomi to preserve (at least on paper) his undefeated record and hopes at a title run.
"Myles is an extremely talented fighter, but part of it is, ignorance is bliss," Greg Jackson, Cerrone's head trainer, said of Jury's résumé. "You just don't know you can lose, so you come in with this, almost this hyper-confidence and that allows you to be fearless and creative and things that you might not be once you taste that first loss."
Considering the gamut of killers Cerrone ran through in 2014, a reckless campaign that saw him knock off Adriano Martins, Edson Barboza, Jim Miller, and Eddie Alvarez in succession, Jan. 3 almost feels anticlimactic in a sense. Jury, while being a legitimate prospect at lightweight, is a fighter who at this point in his career lacks the aura of overwhelming danger carried by the Alvarezes and Barbozas of the world, guys whose highlight reels are violence incarnate.
But if you know anything about Cerrone, you know the score. This time out is just like the last time out: a paycheck, and a chance to nail another scalp to his wall. Business as usual. Only the names have changed.
"I've fought the who's who, even back in my kickboxing career," Cerrone said. "I would always fight top guys because I wanted to f**king know. I would never get an opponent and go to my coaches and ask, ‘What do you guys think? Should we take it? Let's tell ‘em no and f**king try to...' Nah, b*tch. Let's go, motherf**ker.
"That how it used to be all the time. Sometimes I'd be on the card and someone higher would get hurt and I would f**kin' jump up and take the fight because, you know, I just always wanted the top competition. I wanted to test myself all the time. So yeah, f**kin' Myles... whatever."