Donald Cerrone won his seventh fight in 14 months on Sunday night at UFC Fight Night 59, scraping out a contentious decision over Benson Henderson to extend the remarkable hot streak that has made "Cowboy" one of the most coveted contenders in the UFC's lightweight division. And true to form, as soon as the good vibes settled, Cerrone was already looking ahead to what's next.
"Talking with Dana (White) and Lorenzo (Fertitta), I think Khabib is going to be what's next, for sure," Cerrone said at UFC Fight Night 59's post-fight press conference. "I'm going to take some time off and just get ready and stay ready, and hopefully Khabib will be ready."
The Khabib in question is none other than Khabib Nurmagomedov, the undefeated sambo savant who hails from that far-off killers' den of Dagestan and has fashioned the 155-pound division into his own person plaything since making his 2012 UFC debut.
With a flawless 6-0 record inside the Octagon, and lopsided victories on his ledger over Abel Trujillo, Pat Healy, and upcoming title challenger Rafael dos Anjos, Nurmagomedov finds himself perched at No. 2 on the UFC's media-generated lightweight rankings, just ahead of Cerrone despite being sidelined since April 2014 because of a torn ACL.
The two were scheduled to fight at UFC 178, albeit briefly. Nurmagomedov's injury ended up derailing that match-up, but now Nurmagomedov is approaching the end of his recovery, targeting a return sometime in the upcoming spring months. That timetable suits Cerrone just fine, too, because after putting himself through one of the most grueling fight schedules in recent memory, Cerrone is more than happy to take a bit of a vacation.
"Seven in a row, man. I feel good. It's time to take some time off," Cerrone said. "Talk with Dana and Lorenzo after this, go see the Super Bowl and go to Daytona 500 and just kind of hang out."
"Whatever's next I'm willing to take it and fight."