In the violent, unforgiving world of MMA, records are like bones and hearts: made to be broken.
In media interviews this week, Edgewood’s Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone said he hopes to set records, before he retires, that never will be equaled or surpassed.
It’s undeniably true that Cerrone has had, and is having, a career of historic proportions in his chosen sport. He enters Saturday’s fight on a UFC card in Las Vegas, Nevada, against fellow greybeard Jim Miller with a chance to break a tie with Miller and Andrei Arlovski for the most wins (23 as of now) in the UFC.
In total UFC fights, he trails Miller by two and Arlovski by one with 37.
If Cerrone wins impressively, he could break a tie with Brazil’s Charles Oliveira for the most UFC fight bonuses (18).
Should he drop Miller with a punch or a kick, he’ll add to his own record for knockdowns (20).
It’s all fair game. “My plan, I want to put records where people can’t even touch,” Cerrone said.
But to accomplish that, Cerrone, 39, might have to talk the aforementioned Oliveira, the current UFC lightweight champion, into early retirement.
At 32 years, nine months of age, Oliveira has 21 wins and 30 fights in the UFC. At the same age, Cerrone had 15 UFC wins and 19 fights. (One of those wins came against Oliveira, whom Cerrone beat by first-round TKO in 2011.)
Among the under-30 set, there’s 24-year-old Chinese bantamweight Yadong Song (nine UFC fights, eight wins). Cerrone was 30 when he fought his ninth UFC fight and earned his eighth victory.
But the closest thing to an untouchable record, should he get there, is Cerrone’s goal of 50 fights in the organization known as Zuffa – consisting of the UFC and the WEC, a Zuffa-owned circuit for lighter-weight fighters that was absorbed into the UFC in 2011.
Cerrone claims Saturday’s fight will be his 49th for that organization; his fight-by-fight list shows him with 47 – 37 in the UFC, 10 in the WEC – entering the Miller fight.
In any case, Cerrone made it clear this week he intends to get to 50 and might not stop at that point.
“If they call me for 51, I’m going to say all right, I’m there,” he said.
Or, maybe not. A loss on Saturday would be Cerrone’s sixth in a row, and UFC President Dana White has in the past expressed concern for the Cowboy’s health.
In Cerrone’s favor is the any-time, any-place, against-anybody attitude that earned him five fights in one calendar year (2011) and four in six other years. In contrast, Albuquerque’s Diego Sanchez, (32 UFC fights, 19 wins) preceded Cerrone into Zuffa by three years but has never had more than three fights in a year.
Can anyone else get to 50?
Miller is the leader in UFC fights at 39, but he never competed in the WEC. At age 38, 50 seems the remotest of possibilities.
For Arlovski, 43, as durable and as popular as he his, 50 seems out of reach.
Oliveira has never fought more than three times in a calendar year. At that rate, he’d need to fight seven more years to reach 50. He’d be 39, as Cerrone is now.
Yadong, the young Chinese bantamweight, also has never fought in UFC competition more than three times in a year. At that rate, he’d be at least 38 if and when he were to reach 50.
Is there anyone we’ve missed? Probably. It seems fair, though, to say Cerrone has fashioned a steep hill for anyone to climb – though not quite comparable to Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 consecutive games played in the Major Leagues.
As for Pete Rose’s all-time MLB record of 4,256 hits, if one counts both hitting and getting hit, Cerrone might already be there.
Cerrone (36-16 overall) and Miller (34-16) each weighed in at 170.5 pounds for Saturday’s fight, a half-pound under the welterweight limit for non-title fights.
Miller is a moderate betting favorite, despite having lost to Cerrone by second-round TKO when they fought eight years ago in Atlantic City, New Jersey.