On Saturday, Donald Cerrone did something for the first time that he’d never done in his 53-fight career. He fought to a draw.
It’s not an outcome he’d ever planned to have on his resume and in his eyes it’s as good as a loss. “Cowboy” went the distance with Niko Price in the welterweight co-main event of UFC Vegas 11 at UFC APEX and when the cards were read out afterwards two of the judges had it 28-28 and one scored it for Cerrone 29-27.
The final tally was affected by Price having a point deducted in the opening round for an eye poke, which would have turned those two 28-28 scores into 29-28’s in Price’s favor. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what that means for Cerrone and he was highly critical of his own performance at the evening’s post-fight presser.
“Had I not gained a point I would have lost that fight,” Cerrone said. “I can do the math. So 2020 is not my year I don’t think. All camp, all week, I felt good. Everything felt really good, like I was hoping Cowboy was gonna show up. And then, no. First round I go in there and I think I was just wondering how many punches I could actually take until I got knocked out. I had a serious talk with myself. There was one time where I almost dropped to a knee and I was like, ‘You f*cking p*ssy, let’s go.’ I had to have, like, a conversation. Meanwhile, he’s just unloading on me. It’s like, ‘Let’s go!’
“Maybe the second round, I don’t know what it looked like, but it’s funny because he was kicking me. It’s like man, I’m supposed to be kicking you. That was the game plan. I’m gonna kick you, I’m gonna take you down, everything I was drilling and practicing and trying to do I didn’t execute. This is the worst performance I’ve ever had, hands down. I’m very upset with myself. I don’t know how else to say it, but I definitely count this as a loss. Like, this is five in a row. And for somebody who’s out there fighting to keep his job, it wasn’t a very good job I did, was it?”
A notoriously slow starter, Cerrone battle back to win at least one round on the scorecards, with judge Eric Colon going as far as to award Cerrone the win. The official result will go down as a majority draw though and because of that Cerrone is open to an immediate rematch with Price to give him a chance to earn an official win.
Cerrone spoke to Price and his team afterwards and had nothing but positive things to say about them. It was Cerrone himself who felt he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. The 14-year veteran entered this fight on a career-worst four-fight losing streak and as far as he’s concerned, that was extended on Saturday.
“I don’t know what else to tell you guys other than I did not have fun tonight,” Cerrone said. “I did not enjoy it and it sucked. I got beat and that’s five in a row. Five losses in a row on someone who has accolades deeper than you can believe. It’s crazy to me, like, the most wins, the most finishes, the most head kicks, the most whatever, and then to go five losses.
“It’s just I’ve got a lot to work on mentally. It has nothing to do with any of my coaches or my training partners, everything was right, everything was good. Then all of a sudden this morning I feel great and then I get here and it’s like whoa… I wish I had the secret.”
Asked what positives he could take away from the performance, Cerrone credited his coaches with pushing him to finish strong, which he did earning 10-9 round three scores on all three judges’ cards.
“Weathering the inner storm, him beating on me that is totally separate than the inner bitch I had to get out midway through the first round,” Cerrone said. “So that was good. I successfully got that p*ssy out of there, but other than that I don’t know what to tell ya.”
Should Cerrone fight Price again, it won’t happen in 2020 as he hopes to take the rest of the year off and return in January or February. During this time, he mentioned the possibility of reaching out to a sports psychologist that he used to work with to help him overcome his mental hurdles.
As far as when he might call it a career, that’s a discussion that he definitely won’t be having anytime soon.
“No,” Cerrone said when asked about retirement. “No, no, no, no. Don’t stretch that by any means. I just need to figure out something that I’m doing wrong. I don’t know where it is along the line, but I need to figure out what’s causing me to be—let’s just rewind it. The last fight with Pettis I felt great, that was like the best I’ve ever felt, coming out rocking and rolling.
“The fight before that with Conor, dude, on the biggest lights, the biggest stage, the biggest chance of my entire life, I didn’t want to be there at all. I did not want to be in that cage. He came in and I was just looking for a way out, there it was, bam, take it. That’s not me, that’s not who I am. But there’s no way I’m looking or talking of retirement. I’m just talking taking a few months off to f*cking regroup and figure some s*it out, that’s all.”