UFC Fight Night: Colby Covington vs. Tyron Woodley, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Niko Price (main card); Jordan Espinosa vs. David Dvorak, Jerome Rivera vs. Tyson Nam (prelims). Streaming: 3 p.m. prelims, 6 p.m. main card
Same meat, different gravy.
At that moment, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone was discussing the difference between fighting in front of a crowd and doing so in a largely empty arena. He’ll do the latter Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada, due to COVID-10 protocols, against Niko Price.
As Cerrone’s philosophy of life and career, though, that comparison might still apply.
Whatever comes, he’s ready.
Cerrone, who lives and trains in Edgewood, long has been one of MMA’s most popular and entertaining fighters. But at age 37, having lost his last four fights, he was questioned this week about his future — or lack of it — in the UFC should Price (11-4) make it five straight defeats.
Managing to be angry, dismissive, profane and hilarious all at the same time, Cerrone wasn’t having any of it.
First, in a WebEx interview earlier this week, he was asked if he would consider retiring were he to lose on Saturday.
“Hell no,” he said. “Where’d you hear that? No, no, no, no. Not even in my train of thought. Wrong question.”
Later, he was asked if he feared the UFC would cut him were he to lose five in a row.
“I’m gonna leave when I’m done,” he said. “I don’t ever want the walking papers, you know what I mean? … I don’t ever want them to call my manager and release, me, you know? That would totally suck.”
Cerrone said he’s fully focused on beating Price. Yet, as he’s said before, victory is not the only thing that motivates him.
And if he has anything to prove, he said, it’s not to the naysayers.
It’s to himself.
“This fight’s for me, man,” he said. “… Just for me. I’ve got to look at myself in the mirror Saturday morning, where I go, like, ‘Let’s go, baby. This is for you, Cowboy.’ And I’m gonna go have all the fun I want with no expectations, no must wins, no must do’s, no nothing.
“Just go and fight my fight and love every second and have fun and enjoy it. That’s where I’m gonna be victorious no matter how the fight comes out. This one’s for me, so there’s no wrong way this fight can go.”
Cerrone (36-15) can be fairly described as UFC royalty. His 23 victories on the circuit are the most ever; Saturday‘s fight will be his 36th UFC fight, tying him at No. 1 with Jim Miller. If he can stop Price short of the prescribed distance, he’ll break a tie with Charles Oliveira for the most finishes with 17.
All of that, combined with his charisma, is why the idea of the UFC letting him go — win or lose on Saturday — seems unthinkable.
Heavyweight Andrei Arlovski, Cerrone’s former teammate at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA, lost five straight from January 2016–May 2017. But Arlovski, popular and never in a boring fight, has fought eight times since and has another fight scheduled in November.
Meanwhile, Cerrone fights to support a growing family: wife Lindsay, son Dacson Danger, 2, and newborn son Riot River.
“Being a dad’s crazy, it’s fun, awesome,” he said. “Can’t wait to get home and see (River) again, man.
“But I’m here at work, here to get a job done, and support them. So I’m excited and moving forward and planning on having a couple more.”
A couple more fights? A couple more kids?