The 54-fight veteran returns to action following a year away from the sport but the emotion he’s feeling leading into his matchup against Joe Lauzon on Saturday isn’t as much about himself, the event or the opponent he’s facing but rather one very special person sitting in the audience.
“It’s not me it’s my son,” Cerrone said while fighting back tears at UFC 274 media day. “I can’t wait to walk out of that [cage] and see the look on his face. I can’t wait. He finally knows what I do. It’s crazy how emotional I get but any time I was working out and I didn’t want to do it, that’s who I thought of. I cannot f****** wait.
“I cannot wait to see him smile like ‘wow this is my dad’ so to me that’s why I wanted a sold out crowd. To walk out of that tunnel, blow the roof off this place and look over and see my son like ‘wow Dad, that’s you.’”
Cerrone, who is now a father of two, has welcomed his eldest son into the cage previously but he was too young to actually know what was happening.
Now that he’s a little older, the 39-year-old lightweight knows it’s going to be a moment he’ll never forget when he locks eyes with his son sitting cageside as he makes his walk to the octagon.
“He’s almost four and he’ll be able to grasp that,” Cerrone explaind. “He still doesn’t know what I do. Like ‘you’re going to Vegas to go to work, dad?’ He doesn’t know what that means.
“He loves Ninja Turtles, he loves fighting, so I can’t wait to ask him ‘what Ninja Turtle is daddy going to be tonight?’ cause I’m going to go out there and kick some f****** ass so watch out.”
According to Cerrone, the significance of this particular occasion brought him back to a conversation he had with the late Charles “Mask” Lewis, who was the founder of the mixed martial arts brand Tapout, after he signed with the company as a sponsor.
“‘Mask’ used to tell me ‘I’m just looking for one person that can touch millions, I don’t care about touching all these people, I just want to fight one person that can touch a million people and change lives’” Cerrone said. “Now I know what that means to find that one person.
“Now when I walk out of that tunnel, I cannot wait to see my son standing there like yep, I’m changing you, boy. You’re going to grow up with the morals and ethics that I think are appropriate in this world and change you and help you move onto sculp the next generation of people. That is very important with the younger generation and if I can pick my son to do that, let’s do it.”
While Cerrone has undoubtedly secured his place in history for any number of accomplishments on his resume, he feels like having his son in attendance at UFC 274 might trump anything he’s done previously in his career.
“That’s definitely legacy,” Cerrone said. “I don’t ever get emotional during fighting. Kids bring that out of you. You can tell right now, I’m a f****** wreck. It’s a feeling that I couldn’t explain unless you have your own kids.”