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‘Cowboy’ Cerrone ‘absolutely’ believes he’s a better mixed martial artist than Conor McGregor

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Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone doesn’t have a UFC title reign on his resume but he holds plenty of records that have helped to define his legacy in the sport.

It’s actually a rather gaudy list of accomplishments you’ll find when digging into everything the 36-year-old veteran has done during his 13-year career.

Cerrone holds the record for the most wins in UFC history (23), the most finishes in UFC history (16), the most post-fight bonuses in UFC history (18) and the most knockdowns in UFC history (20).

While he’s best known for engaging in slugfests on the feet, Cerrone actually has more submission wins (17) than he does knockouts (10), but his best reputation might be as a fighter willing to face anyone, at any time, no matter the location.

On Jan. 18, Cerrone will set foot in the Octagon for the 34th time as he takes on former two-division champion Conor McGregor at UFC 246 from Las Vegas. The fight is widely being regarded as the start of McGregor’s comeback tour—with his last UFC win coming in 2016—after engaging in a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather and then falling to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018.

The talk surrounding McGregor leading into this card is that he’s planning on fighting at least three times in 2020. He wants to take back the lightweight title from Nurmagomedov and UFC president Dana White has said the Irish superstar is serious about tackling a challenge at welterweight as well with a potential showdown against Jorge Masvidal also brewing for the future.

Before he can get to any of that, McGregor first has to get past Cerrone at UFC 246.

As much as he doesn’t seem to care that virtually the entire sport is acting like the outcome is already a foregone conclusion, Cerrone knows he’s a much tougher matchup for McGregor than anyone may care to acknowledge.

“Do I feel like a better mixed martial artist? Absolutely,” Cerrone told MMA Fighting. “I feel like I’ve been in the trenches. I’ve been in the big fights. I’ve walked this path many, many times.

“This is my 51st MMA fight coming out of that tunnel. Literally, I’ve done it more than anybody.”

Even White had to pump the brakes on all the talk that Cerrone is nothing more than a speed bump on McGregor’s road to redemption.

“The level of disrespect shown to ‘Cowboy’ through this whole thing. Apparently, people forgot that, ‘Cowboy’s lost two in a row, ‘Cowboy’s lost two in a row before and come back and gone on unbelievable runs. Let’s not count ‘Cowboy’ out,” White told ESPN.

The fight with McGregor will be contested at 170 pounds, which is a weight class where Cerrone once thrived with high profile wins over fighters such as Matt Brown, Mike Perry and Rick Story.

While McGregor has competed as a welterweight in the past, his only two fights in the division came against Nate Diaz in 2016. He ultimately went 1-1 in those fights but most still consider Diaz a true lightweight even if he has fought at welterweight several times.

None of that played a factor in Cerrone accepting the fight because it wasn’t his idea to begin with.

“I didn’t care. They called and said Conor wants to fight you at 170. I said hell yeah let’s do it. It wasn’t a beat other than that,” Cerrone said.

“We’re both going to have a healthy, fat camp. How about that? We don’t have to worry about battling with diet and all that sh*t. We just get to go be who we want, train hard and show up healthy and I’m excited. All in all to get the best Conor, the best ‘Cowboy,’ this is the only way to do it.”

With the fight only a few weeks away, Cerrone has been deep into training camp already with his team assembled at the “BMF Ranch” in New Mexico. He shot down reports that he would be working with Duke Roufus while adding that he had ‘no idea’ why the famed coach made that announcement back in December.

Cerrone is definitely paying attention to every detail in preparation for the matchup with McGregor but then again he downplays the magnitude of this event because he loves fighting no matter the opponent.

“I’m stoked to get any fight,” Cerrone said. “I’ve been doing these interviews for a while now. I’m excited for it all.”

His biggest motivation these days may not be the hefty paycheck and it’s definitely not the attention he’ll receive for facing the biggest draw in combat sports. Instead, Cerrone wants to make his son proud so when he’s finally done with this sport they can look back together at all the cool things he did with his career.

“One day, I’m going to sit back with my little boy and say. ‘Your daddy, he was one bad motherf*cker, boy,’” Cerrone said in closing. “He’ll be there screaming and hollering front row at UFC 246.”