A lot of times in mixed martial arts, fights get made not because they are the best matchups, but because they are the best available matchups. Timing sometimes necessitates certain pairings, which will probably be the case for Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s next fight.
As usual, Cowboy wants to fight as soon as possible. He started 2014 with the goal of getting in the cage six times, and he’s already notched four victories this year. Despite having a 2014 resume worthy of a UFC lightweight title shot, an opportunity that has thus far eluded the 32-fight veteran, Cowboy doesn’t want to wait for the winner of Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez.
With Cerrone not pursuing UFC gold, who is the best possible opponent to plug into his hectic schedule?
Lightweights are constantly coming out of the woodwork to challenger Cerrone on Twitter. Since defeating Eddie Alvarez at UFC 178, Cerrone has been called out on Twitter by Jorge Masvidal, a fight that Cerrone was “100 percent” for. The UFC has been trying to match Cerrone up with undefeated Myles Jury, and he has been going back and forth with him on Twitter as well.
On paper, the matchup that makes the most sense for Cerrone is against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov is undefeated at 22-0 and has used his elite-level Combat Sambo and judo to dominate his competition thus far in the UFC, where he’s currently 6-0.
Nurmagomedov has been sidelined with an injury but will be back in action in early 2015 and is campaigning for the winner of Pettis vs. Melendez. A fight with Cerrone would establish a true No. 1 contender in the lightweight division and clear up the logjam that has been caused by Pettis’ recent injuries.
The Eagle would have a distinct grappling advantage over Cerrone and would look to do exactly to Cowboy what he’s done to everyone else he’s faced: take them down repeatedly and use his stifling top control for the duration of the bout. It’s an interesting matchup with Cerrone, who is known for the pace of his offense and finishing instinct.
Nurmagomedov is ranked No. 2 on UFC.com. If Pettis wins and is able to have a somewhat quick turnaround, Nurmagomedov may be next in line for a title shot.
As far as Masvidal goes, that would be a fantastic matchup. Cerrone is known for his muay thai style and willingness to engage, and Masvidal is a street-fighter-turned-legit-world-class mixed martial artist. Gamebred has won five of his six UFC fights and has cracked the UFC’s Top 15 with his recent winning streak.
Cerrone vs. Masvidal would be a typical Cerrone matchup. But due to the tear Cerrone has been on, he’s positioned himself among the truly elite at 155 pounds and should be facing guys ranked within the Top 5.
Myles Jury is the likely next opponent for Cowboy. Cerrone insinuated on Twitter (note: language in tweet NSFW) that Jury turned down the fight in December due to an injury, and Jury’s camp has said he will also be ready in January. With both fighters ready in January and the UFC making moves to get this fight booked, Jury will probably get to test his undefeated record against Cerrone to kick off 2015.
Only UFC matchmaker Joe Silva truly knows who Donald Cerrone will face next, but it seems like he won’t be able to get his next fight before 2015 unless a mystery lightweight comes out from behind the curtain to challenge Cerrone on short notice.
Cerrone’s desire to fight so often and utter indifference to who his opponent is make him a one-of-a-kind fighter in the UFC. Cowboy may not meet his goal of six fights in 2014, but he’s always got next year.
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Courtesy of :Bleacher Report – UFC