Although Morono doesn’t see a long road ahead for the octagon vet, he still thinks Cerrone has some gas left in the tank despite a fifth loss in six appearances.
“I do [think he can still compete],” Morono said after stopping Cerrone via TKO in the first round of Saturday’s event at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. “At least one more. I hope he is given the opportunity to call his final shots.”
Morono wasn’t the shot Cerrone called, of course. He was a short-notice fill-in for the Diego Sanchez, who’d called for a fight with his former training partner before a series of events that led to his removal from the fight and release from contract.
Since returning to welterweight, Cerrone has lost three of four bouts. Prior to his loss to Moreno, he said he planned to return to the lightweight division.
Morono opined that Cerrone’s most recent competitive results weren’t so much an indication of declining skills or ability, but the result of a size deficiency and bad timing.
“I just don’t think this was an ideal matchup for his style and where he’s at in his career,” he said before putting himself “on the bottom of that list” of top-tier opponents that Cerrone fell short to on the road to UFC Vegas 26, a resume that included Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor, Anthony Pettis and Niko Price.
“I think he could have a fight if he wanted to and still succeed,” Morono said of Cerrone. “When I throw that right hook, I throw every bit of power I can, and I think I landed two or three of them, and I put guys down with one, and he ate three of them pretty handily and stayed on his feet. He was still game. He had it in his eye.
“You can see it when guys don’t have it any more. And looking at him, pre-fight and in the fight, he was down.”
Almost three months ago, Morono had told his team that the Cerrone vs. Sanchez matchup was one he’d gladly step into on short notice in case either opponent was ruled out. Fans of both fighters, he was pumped at the idea of facing an octagon legend.
On fight week, Morono said he was as much looking forward to hearing Cerrone’s walkout music as he was stepping in the octagon. When he finally made his own walk, he resolved to end a stretch of decisions that led up to the co-main event.
“I’m going to stand and trade until someone goes down,” he said of his mindset. “I’m going to get into a gunfight, and not for anyone else other than myself. I’m down to firefight – safely and defensively, but I wasn’t afraid of getting clipped to achieve my goal of landing these big punches.”
Even after he leveled the veteran with a series of hard right hands, Morono couldn’t fully take himself out of fan mode. And when he was asked in so many words after the fight whether Cerrone should retire, Morono wouldn’t put himself in that position.
“After the fight, after kill mode was turned off, seeing Cowboy there was cool,” he said. “Sad is not the right word. It’s just not. There’s a lot of respect that goes into it, and I do hope he goes to  and they give him a good fight.
“Give him [Joe] Lauzon or [Jim] Miller – still game dudes, but a fun veteran fight. If anyone’s deserved any shots to be called in the UFC, it’s Cowboy.”