“Danger” may as well be Donald Cerrone’s middle name. In fact, the UFC lightweight went ahead and named his first-born son Dacson Danger Cerrone.
Cerrone is a fighter’s fighter. The embodiment of some Hollywood idea of a prizefighting cowboy, he views dangerous extreme sport as recreational activities. When he’s not busy trading blows to the face in the Octagon that is.
Googling the phrase “Donald Cerrone accident” returns headlines such as:
Cerrone (36-11) is also the #4 ranked lightweight in the UFC. It’s a position that could substantially improve should he manage to defeat former interim lightweight champion and current #2 lightweight Tony Ferguson (24-3). That chances comes this Saturday at UFC 238 at United Center in Chicago.
Cerrone ranking is a product of grind you’ll rarely see at the highest levels of MMA. Despite holding the record for the most victories in UFC history, having his hand raised 23 times in the Octagon, Cerrone has only fought for a UFC championship once.
He has also scored the most stoppages (TKO, KO or submission) in the history of the promotion. He’s won Fight of the Night five times, Knockout of the Night three times, Submission of the Night twice and Performance of the Night seven times. All signs say he comes not just to win, but to fight.
Cerrone’s “anyone, anytime, anywhere” mentality has made him a fan favorite. But it also lands him against stiff challenges more often than almost any other fighter with a top ten ranking. More challenges, taken more frequently has led to a record not quite as sparkling as other top fighters.
His occasional stumbles in the cage have kept him from a UFC title challenge since a December 2015 disaster against then-lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos. Back then Cerrone was stopped just 66 seconds into the fight.
Following his loss to dos Anjos, Cerrone jumped up a weight class where he went 6-4, losing to some of the elite in the division before returning to lightweight and picking up a pair of wins.
In his most recent performance, Cerrone took a decision win over Al Iaquinta in a Fight of the Night performance on May 4.
Yes, May 4 … as in one month ago. And now Cerrone is stepping back into the cage to face off with the man ranked #12 in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings.
Because of course he is.
“More or less the UFC called me and asked me if I wanted to fight and I said yes, then it took two or three days for Tony to agree to the fight, which really pissed me off because the UFC called me and offered to me and left me in his limbo,” Cerrone told MMAjunkie of making the short-notice fight happen.
“I keep calling like, ‘(UFC President) Dana (White), I’m on fucking vacation. Can I drink beer and eat guacamole, or do you want me to go fucking run on the beach? Because this in-between, I don’t know what’s going on, is fucking bullshit.’ So, Tony took long figuring it out.”
Ferguson won the interim lightweight title in 2017. Then he suffered a knee injury while promoting a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. Eventually he was stripped of the interim belt due to injury related inactivity.
The injury was the fourth time the promotion attempted to book a fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson, only to see it fall apart.
That background makes Ferguson’s hesitancy to fight Cerrone understandable. Ferguson returned from injury this past October and defeated Anthony Pettis in a great fight. Meanwhile Nurmagomedov is now the reigning lightweight champion after easily defeating Conor McGregor.
A title fight is right there for Ferguson, so why take on a killer like Cerrone?
“I think he believes he deserves a shot, so for him fighting someone like me is super dangerous,” Cerrone said in his MMAjunkie interview. “Why would he want to put himself at risk of (losing) a title shot? Especially fighting a fucking killer. But I don’t give a shit. That’s the difference between me. I’ll fight anybody. So, I’ve got to beat them all anyway.”
“Beating them all” would certainly put Cerrone in line to face the winner of a unification bout between Nurmagomedov and interim champ Dustin Poirier.
“The Cerrone fight makes sense,” UFC President Dana White said of options for McGregor’s potential return to the Octagon. “There’s a couple different options out there for him. He was talking about the Cerrone fight at one point.
“I don’t really know but that fight makes sense.”