Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s anger toward Diego Sanchez has dissipated, but there’s residual fury in there.
It’s Alex Morono, Cerrone said, who now must pay.
“I still have that malicious intent on hurting this (expletive) because I’ve still got the Diego fire,” Edgewood’s Cerrone said this week in an interview with mmajunkie.com. “So I’m planning every punch and every kick to be lethal, and I don’t want the kid to make it out of the first round.”
Cerrone (36-15) and Morono (18-7) are scheduled to meet in the welterweight co-main event of a UFC Fight Night MMA card in Las Vegas, Nevada. Morono stepped in as a late replacement for Sanchez, Cerrone’s former teammate at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA, after Sanchez was released by the UFC.
Sanchez-Cerrone was to be a genuine grudge match. The former teammates had feuded the past two years after first Cerrone, then Sanchez left Jackson-Wink. Before Sanchez’s removal, Cerrone made it clear he intended to punish Sanchez for real or perceived insults.
Now, though, Cerrone said he has found it hard to stay angry with Sanchez because he believes trainer Josh Fabia, not Sanchez, has been pulling the strings and is primarily responsible for the fighter’s demise in the UFC.
“I don’t know if it’s (Sanchez) guiding the horse,” Cerrone said. “I think he’s just running blind and this other jamoke … is showing him down the path.
“… I feel bad for you, Diego.”
Cerrone, meanwhile, has his own professional concerns. He’s 0-4 with one no contest in his last five fights, and UFC President Dana White has expressed concern about the popular veteran’s well-being.
At age 38 and with 51 professional fights to his credit, Cerrone understands the situation. And even if he wins on Saturday, a victory over an unranked fighter would do only so much to reverse the trend. Should he lose, particularly should he lose badly, there could be consequences.
His response: a fighter fights.
“I’m not like, ‘Oh, I have to win,'” he said. “This isn’t a must-win. It’s, I get to go win. I get to fight. I get to do what I love.”
Still, each Cerrone fight is meaningful because each adds to his legacy.
Saturday’s fight will be his 37th in UFC competition, tying him with Jim Miller for the most in the organization’s history. Cerrone’s 23 UFC wins, 16 finishes (tied with Charles Oliveira) and 20 knockdowns already rank No. 1.
“That’s what I want to do, go set records,” he said. “… I want these young kids coming up to say, ‘Man, one day I want to be him.
“But I’m still here, (expletive), so get in line.”
THE WEIGH-IN: Albuquerque’s Michelle Waterson (18-8), Cerrone’s former Jackson-Wink teammate, weighed in at the flyweight limit of 125 pounds for her five-round main-event fight Saturday against Brazil’s Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2). Rodriguez weighed in at 125½, a permissible half-pound over the limit for a non-title fight.
Cerrone weighed in at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds, extending his streak of never having missed weight during his UFC career. Morono weighed in at 170½ pounds.
Heavyweight Maurice Greene (9-5), Waterson’s Jackson-Wink teammate, weighed in at 237 pounds for his fight against Brazil’s Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-7-1). De Lima weighed in at 264½ pounds, barely under the UFC’s maximum allowed weight of 265.
THE ODDS: Waterson was listed on Friday as a plus-175 underdog, meaning a bet of $100 would pay $175 should she win. Rodriguez was a minus-210 favorite, meaning a wager of $210 would pay a profit of $100 if she wins.
Cerrone was a minus-190 favorite against Morono, who was listed at plus-160. Greene was a plus-165 underdog against de Lima, who was listed at minus-185.
PATCHY WINS: MMA featherweight Patchy Mix, who trains in Albuquerque at Jackson-Wink, defeated Albert Morales by third-round submission (arm triangle choke) Friday night on a Bellator card at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Mix is 14-1, Morales 10-7-1.