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Well hellfire, Cowboy Cerrone’s back in the saddle again

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Last Saturday night, having just put away Myles Jury in an unsatisfactory manner at UFC 182, Donald Cerrone held three tall cans of Budweiser and shook his head at the post-fight press conference. The problem was the "f*ck you" kicks he delivered at the end didn’t carry enough of the obscene to his way of thinking, and it was bugging him. He felt a little slighted by what Jury offered him. The boos he heard were still chewing him up. Nobody boos a Donald Cerrone fight. He shook his head mid-reverie and dribbled spit into one of the cans.

When somebody asked Dana White if Hector Lombard, sitting a few bruised bodies down, could be repurposed for Broomfield, Colo. and stand in on short notice for the injured Tarec Saffiedine against Matt Brown, I didn’t hear a thing White said in reply.

The only thing I heard was Cerrone, holding the mic sideways and with a sneaky little half-grin, say, "the Cowboy will do it."

Weight classes be damned. "The Cowboy will do it." That’s a t-shirt slogan.

Cerrone may speak in the third person of the first persona, but he’s the willingest dadgum gunslinger in the West. He is always ready to fight and fight again. White apparently dismissed that Matt Brown talk as so much hooey that night, but you know what he not-so-secretly wishes? That he had 100 freaking Donald Cerrones. Two days later, on Monday, it was announced that Cerrone would stand in for the injured Eddie Alvarez at UFC Fight Night 59 in Boston against Benson Henderson, his old nemesis from the blue cage in the WEC.

Well of course he’ll stand in! Don’t have to ask Cowboy twice, provided there’s somewhere in Boston to hitch up his horse (or, park his RV as it were). Thirteen days’ notice is all Cerrone needs to try and vindicate some early losses against the one-time UFC/WEC lightweight champion.

Cerrone doesn’t compete in single fights; he goes on cage tours, like a comedian or a circus or something. Right now he’s on pace for 26 fights in 2015, wherever the four-ounce gloves will take him, from the high Sierra to the Appalachians to everywhere else under tarnation. Obviously if he hits a modest 15, people won’t think any less of him. But nobody is as prolific as Cerrone. He’s ornery, he’s always doing "crazy sh*t," as Dana White says, but he’s always ready to go.

There’s really no other fighter quite like him.

Chris Leben was one of those cats who people used to have to try and anesthetize in the cage lest he’d come forward on toddler legs winging bombs, but he’s a distant second to the thing I’m talking about. Leben fought Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama in a two-week span in 2010 -- yet Leben was a dice thrower. He won some, he lost some. He wasn’t a title contender.

Cerrone fought four times in 2014, which is a lot by UFC standards, and he won them all. He fought five times in 2011, and won the first four. It (usually) takes Cerrone awhile to find his range, but when he does he just lights people up. If he had his druthers, he’d fight every other weekend, at every roadhouse and arena the UFC has a card planned for. He’s a modern day Joseph Hooker; he’s the fightingest general in the Union.

Honestly, I ask you -- what’s not to love?

It used to be that Cerrone fought to sort of fund his slightly more insane pursuits outside of the cage. He splurges on boats that he can use for wakeboarding, upgrades to his RV. He repels down rock faces, cliff dives, races cars, likes the aerial acrobatics of stunt planes, sits around shooting at jackrabbits while the beans cook on the open fire. His motivations are always a little confusing. There was a string of fights back in the day that he took to pay his back taxes. Fighting feels like a 50/50 proposition to A) do some thrill seeking and B) earn some disposable income. He’s a happy-go-lucky bounty hunter who also enjoys a few cold ones.

He’s almost too good to be true. His fights are exciting, he fights often, and he mostly wins.

Benson Henderson, just like Edson Barboza, Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller and Jury, are guys who could feasibly shoot him down. This isn’t a row of cans; these are champions, former champions, future champions, people who vaporize Terry Etim with wheel kicks. The great thing about Cerrone, though, the thing that sets him apart from everybody is this: No second thoughts. He doesn’t go in for circumspection. Just live action and live consequences. With Cowboy it’s "just get ’er done."

Cerrone’s motto is simple: "Anytime, Anywhere." January 18 is his next date out in Boston -- two weeks removed from is last fight. He’s already thinking up the route his RV will take out east. If the UFC was willing, this could all be foreshadowing for Cerrone versus Matt Brown on Valentine’s Day. The UFC isn’t.

But Cowboy sure as hell is.