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Donald Cerrone targets return to lightweight, Khabib Nurmagomedov after UFC Austin win

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Austin Cerrone vs Medeiros
Donald Cerrone
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Donald Cerrone shook off the demons of a three-fight losing streak at 170 pounds with his electrifying knockout win over Yancy Medeiros at UFC Austin. Now he wants to return to his original stomping grounds in the lightweight division.

“I want ’55. I want to go get that belt,” Cerrone announced Sunday on the FOX Sports 1 post-fight show.

Khabib (Nurmagomedov), I’m coming, baby. I’m coming. I ain’t scared to fight you.”

Cerrone, 34, was long considered one of the best fighters in the world at 155 pounds. A one-time UFC title challenger, “Cowboy” racked up a remarkable 15-4 Octagon record from 2011-15 while competing in the UFC’s most talent-rich division, notching a slew of notable wins over the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Benson Henderson, Jeremy Stephens, and Jim Miller, among many others.

Cerrone kicked off his welterweight run in 2016 with much of the same success, winning his first four fights in spectacular fashion before dropping three straight contests at 170 pounds. Two of those three losses — to Darren Till and Robbie Lawler — came against opponents who have fought at middleweight in the past. So after righting his ship against another a fellow ex-lightweight in Medeiros, “Cowboy” admitted the size disparity between himself and the sharks of 170 pounds has been a difficult mountain to overcome.

“These big ol’ boys hit hard and they’re a lot bigger, man,” Cerrone said. “Like, I woke up at 168 (pounds), made weight easy. I wish there was a ‘65 weight class. UFC, can we get a 165 weight class, please? Because that’d be cool.

“But yeah, I don’t know,” Cerrone added. “Who knows, I’ll just fight whatever they tell me. They’ll call me and say, ‘We need you at 170,’ and I’ll be like, ‘Okay.’

“They all pay the same to me so it don’t matter what it is.”

While Cerrone was all smiles after the fight, “Cowboy” has never had his back pressed against the wall like he did heading into UFC Austin.

Prior to his recent slump, Cerrone had never lost back-to-back fights in a professional fighting career that stretched farther back than a decade. But Cerrone persevered in the face of adversity, winning a back-and-forth war against Medeiros with a monstrous right hand bomb that downed the Hawaiian contender in the closing seconds of round one.

Afterward, Cerrone was his usual irreverent self when discussing his recent struggles.

“Man, it was just funny,” Cerrone said. “Everyone kept asking me, ‘How do you feel, Cowboy, coming off three fights?’ Well, I don’t even really think about it until you guys tell me what a loser I am. It’s like, damn, other than that I don’t even give it much (thought). And everyone’s like, ‘Well, what did you do differently in this camp?’ Nothing. We didn’t change anything, man. We just keep training. The sport’s ups and downs are so crazy. But, I don’t know. I knew coming into this: I did everything right, I had a great team behind me, and I just felt real good coming in, man.”

Nevertheless, Cerrone did acknowledge that he felt the pressure of the stakes that were up for grabs at UFC Austin.

“This was a big nerve-y one, man,” Cerrone admitted. “I mean, losing three in a row, that’s a pretty sucky (streak). Losing four — man, do I keep my job? You know what I’m saying? So it’s like, damn, there was a lot of nerves going on, man. There was a lot of throwing up in the back and being sick. And I don’t care: People, this is like the hardest job to be excellent at, man. And going out there and trying to perform every night, on the one night, is tough. So my hat’s off to all the guys who do the UFC fighting, I love it, I love my job more than anything and there’s no other place I’d rather be tonight.”


Should Donald Cerrone return to lightweight?

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  • 84%
    (3218 votes)
  • 15%
    No, he should stay at 170
    (576 votes)
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