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Donald Cerrone on 'ludicrous' fine for uniform violation: 'It was quite a bit more' than $5,000

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

If Donald Cerrone’s weekend in Orlando a few weeks back wasn’t bad enough with all the RV trouble and his subsequent loss to Rafael dos Anjos, now he’s dealing in the financial repercussions for wearing a small piece of the American flag on his trunks.

Last week it came out that three fighters from UFC on FOX 17 were fined by the UFC for uniform violations, stemming from the promotion’s exclusive deal with Reebok. The 32-year-old Cerrone, who fought for the lightweight title in the main event, was one of the offenders, sporting a piece of the American flag on his shorts.

Yet to hear him tell it, the UFC doled out more than a reasonable fine for his insubordination. He said the promotion pinged him significantly more than $5,000, which he found "absurd." 

"I don’t know if the fine they gave me is a punishment for being unruly," Cerrone said during an appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. "But like I said, a few grand, I mean, look at...let’s just say the NFL. They have a $5,000 uniform cap, and they make millions of dollars. And their uniform cap is $5,000. So, even $5000 I wouldn’t be that mad. But still, the amount they gave me is ludicrous."

Asked for the specific amount he was docked for the violation, Cerrone shed what light he was willing to.

"It’s more than five grand, quite a bit more," he said. "Let’s just say I could probably go out and buy a new car for a Vietnam vet right now, cash money."

Cerrone admitted that he was warned backstage that if he wore the flag on his shorts that he would be fined. He said, as a patriotic person who’s always worn it, that he decided to take his chances. He didn’t expect the fine to be as steep as it was.

Yet "Cowboy" won’t let the fine deter him, either. Cerrone has a fight lined up on Feb. 21 against Tim Means in Pittsburgh, in what will be his debut as a welterweight. He said he plans on wearing the flag again, fine or not — even though he’s been cautioned that a repeat offense could have more dire consequences.

"And then the part that really upset me is that they said if I do it again, I won’t be able to fight again," he told Ariel Helwani. "So, that kind of buckled me.

"We’ll see. I mean, I plan on wearing it again. If they want to fine me, I’m going to wear it again. We’ll see."

Asked if the flag meant something specific for him, especially with his grandma in attendance to see him fight for the title, Cerrone said the "why" doesn’t matter when dealing in the American flag.

"Yeah, I mean my grandma…but that’s all beside the point," he said. "Just the fact that it was an American flag. I mean, if we just look at that fact alone. Whether it’s superstitious or whether it’s a gift to my grandma or whether it’s because I love the United States, it doesn’t matter. I understand a fine, sure. I’ll take a fine. [But] what they did to me? It was a lot more than a fine, brother."

Though he’s flabbergasted at the fine amount itself, Cerrone made it clear that the financial hit wasn’t the whole issue. He just wants the fine money to be redirected to a useful cause, rather than end up in the promotion’s pocket.

"I’m not going to tell you the amount, because I don’t think that that’s right," he said. "... At least take that money and give it to a charity of your discretion. I don’t care who, let’s make it a wounded warrior or any military charity that you want. Since it was a flag, and I feel that it’s patriotic, let’s give it back to the people that are the reason I get to fight and walk around and be free every single day that they fight their lives for. So, let’s donate that to them. I’ll even double it. I’ll even match the amount again and give it.

"It’s not the fact that they took it. It’s just the amount to me is crazy. A few grand? Sure, I would have taken that, like yeah yeah yeah. But the amount they took was ludicrous. My thing to whoever took it is, you don’t even have to give it back to me. Let’s donate it to a charity. Let’s give it to the wounded warriors, or to the women with children that are orphaned because their fathers are over defending our country. So, let’s do that with it."

Asked if he’d do it again exactly the same if he had the knowledge the UFC was going to come down so hard on him with a fine, he said there was a "million percent chance" that he would. Cerrone said it was a matter of pride and principle.

As for whether he considered sewing the flag on the inside of his shorts, so as to conceal it and avoid a fine, Cerrone said that defeats the purpose.

‘It was for the world to see though, that’s what it’s there for," he said. "When we fly our flag [we fly it] high, they don’t put it underground. They put it on a pole, high, so everyone can see it, don’t they?"

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