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‘Cowboy’ Cerrone: ‘My heart is still hurt’ from Conor McGregor loss but ‘I keep fighting’

Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone
Conor McGregor defeated Donald Cerrone at UFC 246.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

There’s no way to sugarcoat how Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone feels about his loss to Conor McGregor this past January.

The UFC 246 main event lasted just 40 seconds after McGregor caught Cerrone off guard with a series of shoulder strikes that dazed him almost immediately. The former two-division champ then fired off a head kick and a barrage of punches that ultimately stopped the fight.

There were rumors after the pay-per-view headliner that Cerrone had suffered damage to his nose and orbital bone. But any of the physical wounds he suffered would heal. It was the emotional turmoil that was harder to absorb, Cerrone told MMA Fighting in an interview two weeks away from his return to action against Anthony Pettis at UFC 249 on May 9.

“My brain was definitely rattled from the ass-whooping I took in 40 seconds,” he said on Tuesday. “But I feel good. My eye healed up enough. My heart is still hurt, but that’s what makes it a man’s sport. We go in there and figure it out.”

The hype and attention surrounding all of McGregor’s fights ultimately raises the stakes for his opponents as well. The spotlight is obviously brighter, which is why analysts debated for weeks after UFC 246 about what went wrong for Cerrone that night.

Four months later, Cerrone can’t deny the loss still stings, but he feels that way any time he’s come up short in a fight.

“That’s the only thing you can do is to suck it up and keep moving,” he said. “I can’t dwell on that. Can’t sit and worry about all that. I had my moment. I let it go, but at the end of the day, I got in there and did it. I stood with one of the best and I’m proud.

“I’m proud of what I’ve become in the sport. I’m proud as a father. It’s what I do. I give people hope and I keep fighting. That’s how we do it.”

Since that fight, Cerrone has enjoyed spending time with his son while building a bar at his “BMF” ranch in New Mexico.

He’s currently putting together plans to open his own brewery as well. But that has been paused now that a fight at UFC 249 is on its way. Cerrone was more than happy to answer when he got the call.

“I was ready to fight May 9 – that’s the soonest I was ready to go,” Cerrone said. “Other than that, I wasn’t really thinking about fighting. I just built my bar, took a few weeks off, hung out, but I was probably thinking about wanting to fight June or July.

“They called me about fighting in May, and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’ Why not? It all worked out.”

The fight with Pettis not only gives Cerrone a chance to return to the win column, but it’s an opportunity to avenge a prior loss on his record. In 2013 at UFC on FOX 6, Pettis finished him by first-round TKO after a nasty body kick.

Of course, Cerrone holds no ill will toward Pettis from their previous meeting. But he feels like everything is working in his favor with the way the rematch came together for UFC 249.

“Losing sucks, I don’t care who you are,” Cerrone explained. “So it’s absolutely something I want to get back. Looking forward to this fight.

“This is my wheelhouse. Taking fights on short notice, when no else is prepared and mentally I’m the strongest. I feel good. I feel hungry. Ready to go out there and do it.”

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