Donald Cerrone closed out his UFC 178 weekend on a fairly cryptic note.
After a days-long extravaganza of wakeboarding, leg-kicking and rib-splitting, Cerrone notched an important unanimous-decision win over Eddie Alvarez on Saturday—but couldn’t leave Las Vegas without teasing us a little bit.
On Monday, the generally open-book fighter posted a tweet so ambiguous we assumed it had to be the prelude to yet another bout announcement. On Tuesday, Cerrone confirmed our suspicions, but only while revealing the rug had already been yanked out from under his boots.
Long story short, we don’t yet know when or against whom, but it’s a good bet we’re all going to get a little bit more Cowboy in our lives before the end of the year.
Hard to complain about that.
Cerrone’s victory over Alvarez pushed his 2014 record to 4-0 and his overall UFC mark to a surprisingly stout 12-3 since coming over from the WEC four years ago. With only three months until New Years, it would take some high-wire theatrics to get Cowboy to the half-dozen fights he wanted this year, but if he falls short, it won’t be by much.
He’s currently No. 4 on the UFC’s official lightweight rankings, and his five straight wins give him a longer streak of victories than anybody else in the Top Five besides the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov (who, lest we forget, is 22-0. 22-0!). And yeah, that includes champion Anthony Pettis.
All those victories—made possible by Cerrone’s self-imposed, hard-charging schedule—have put considerable distance between the 31-year-old Colorado native and a 2013 in which he went 1-2. Each time out these days, he looks less like a career gatekeeper and more like a full-fledged title contender in MMA’s most competitive weight class.
If Cerrone wins one more bout before the end of the year against a Top 15 opponent—think Myles Jury, Josh Thomson or Michael Johnson, perhaps—it’ll be hard to deny that he’s ready for a chance at the title.
Not that he appears to give a damn.
At this point, the biggest threat to Cerrone’s contender status might be in own inability to sit still. While injuries to Pettis put the 155-pound championship on ice during the last 13 months, Cerrone made the Octagon his own personal playground. Including his win over Evan Dunham on Nov 16, 2013, he’s had five fights in 293 days.
Even considering the UFC’s new accelerated live event schedule, that’s a lot.
Hard to blame him, either, considering the financials. Saturday’s win over Alvarez was the first time during his ongoing win streak that Cerrone was denied one of the fight company’s lucrative performance-based bonuses—and he still made a reported $126,000 for his trouble. All told, that adds up to an estimated $762,000 in earnings in less than a year including guarantees, win bonuses and performance extras.
Cerrone hasn’t shied away from the hard truth that his salary barely keeps up with his lifestyle, but there’s also a fair amount of showmanship in his work rate. He appears to fight as much for fun as from need, but certainly isn’t oblivious to the fact that his longstanding “anyone, anytime” mantra has made him very popular with fans.
Cerrone simply won’t—or maybe can’t—wait for Pettis and current No. 1 contender Gilbert Melendez to settle their differences near the end of the year. Instead, he’ll just fight and fight and fight.
The strategy has worked wonders so far, and Cerrone looked like the best possible versions of himself in his last two bouts. In July, he kickboxed circles around Jim Miller before knocking him out in the second round. On Saturday, he spoiled Alvarez’s long-awaited UFC debut with a steady diet of knees to the midsection and kicks to the legs.
But the lightweight division is a hornets’ nest of tough opposition, and it feels like anyone who insists on competing as much as Cerrone does is pressing his luck. He’s a self-admitted slow starter and was blown out of the water in recent defeats against offensive-minded strikers like Pettis and Nate Diaz. He also struggled in a loss to Rafael dos Anjos in August of 2013.
If he keeps up this torrid pace, eventually the weight class is going to jump up and bite him again. It’s not unthinkable that he might even fight his way right out of title contention before the championship carousel has a place for him.
Maybe that doesn’t concern Cerrone. Maybe he’s just here for the adrenaline rush, the competition and, of course, to fund his wakeboarding habit. But he’s worked exceedingly hard over the past year and finally appears on the verge of separating himself from the 155-pound division’s hefty pack of also-rans.
It’d be a shame to see all that progress thrown into a tailspin because he feels compelled to fight five or six times in a calendar turn.
It’s safe to say we’re all rooting for him. At this point we know full well that success (or failure) will happen only on the Cowboy’s own terms.
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Courtesy of :Bleacher Report – UFC