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‘Cowboy’ Cerrone expects to thrive in chaos of short-notice rematch against Anthony Pettis: ‘This is my wheelhouse’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is well aware of the perception that he falls short in his biggest fights.

The former UFC title contender has heard that criticism for years. But it was never louder than the days and weeks following his stunning 40-second loss to Conor McGregor in January. Some of the comments were fair game. Others, not so much, but Cerrone absorbed it all while dealing with the fallout from the defeat.

For all the attention that fight received, Cerrone said he was definitely off his game, and there wasn’t much to take away from that performance considering the quick loss. Four months later, he is making his return at UFC 249 under much different circumstances.

Cerrone wasn’t exactly training for a fight when the UFC called to see if he wanted to jump on the May 9 event. But a short-notice rematch against Anthony Pettis proved all too tempting. Not only was it a chance to avenge a prior defeat, but the environment was better.

Truth be told, Cerrone prefers to thrive in chaos – not bask in the circus-like atmosphere of his previous fight against McGregor.

“Losing sucks – I don’t care who you are,” Cerrone told MMA Fighting about the rematch with Pettis. “So it’s absolutely something I want to get back. This is my wheelhouse. Taking fights on short notice, when no one else is prepared, and mentally, I’m the strongest. I feel good. I feel hungry. Ready to go out there and do it.”

Despite a previous loss to Pettis, Cerrone holds absolutely no ill will toward the former UFC lightweight champion. In fact, he said he was talking to Pettis about the potential pairing as both of them waited for the UFC to confirm the rematch for May 9.

“Me and Anthony were texting back and forth like, ‘Hey man, did you get your contract yet? Is this really happening? What’s going on?’” Cerrone said. “I’m pretty good friends with most of the guys. So I don’t ever happen any hostility or bad feelings toward them.

“We’ll go out there and put on a show, and then we’ll drink a beer and have a good time.”

It’s been seven years since their first meeting, and while the result didn’t go his way back then, Cerrone still views Pettis as a favorable matchup for him. That said, he wasn’t exactly targeting Pettis as an opponent.

Instead, the 18-time post fight bonus winner just loves the chance to scrap, and this was another opportunity to shine under unique circumstances.

“It’s going to be a fun fight,” Cerrone said. “I know what Anthony can do. Stylistically, I match up very well with him. Fun fight, yeah, but the name never matters to me. I never really cared. I’m excited to get in there.

“Short notice, this is my wheelhouse. I’m the guy they can call any time, I’m ready to go and I’ll go in there and fight my ass off. That to me is more important than anything. That’s who I am. It’s cool. It’s fun. I love it.”

In addition to his attitude to fight anyone at any time, Cerrone can also add competing during a pandemic without an audience in attendance to his resume of unique experiences. Then again, he’s already fought under almost every imaginable circumstance already, so ultimately this is just another fight with a chance to put on a show and earn a nice paycheck.

“I fought in the WEC, one of the first fights of the night,” Cerrone said with a laugh. “You want to talk about no crowd. I had my mom sitting there and that was it. I’ve done it. I’ve fought nobodies. I’ve fought big people. It don’t make no difference to me.

“I’m going in there and doing the same thing. I’m going in there to get paid, baby!”

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