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‘Cowboy’ enjoys the ride to UFC title bout

Donald Cerrone fights Saturday night in Orlando, Fla., for the UFC lightweight championship. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun Via AP)

Donald Cerrone fights Saturday night in Orlando, Fla., for the UFC lightweight championship.
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun Via AP)

Make no mistake, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone wants to win Saturday night in Orlando, Fla., when he fights UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos.

But that doesn’t mean he particularly cares whether or not he becomes champion.

For Cerrone, the Edgewood resident and Jackson-Wink MMA fighter who has become one of the most popular men in mixed-martial arts, his life is more about enjoying the ride he’s been on than arriving at any specific destination, no matter how prestigious it may be.

“The belt on the line, I mean, it’s like any other fight to me,” Cerrone said. “It’s not like there’s any added pressure. The journey, man, that’s what it is.”

So when Cerrone, who drives with friends across the country to his fights – often stopping along the way for skeet shooting, wake boarding, or whatever other random extreme sports activity piques his curiosity – found himself standing in a auto garage in Riverdale, Ala., overnight Sunday with a broke down RV, he wasn’t worried.

Sure, Dos Anjos and all the other fighters on Saturday’s 13-fight, nationally televised “UFC Fight Night” card took their free flights into Orlando for fight week preparations. But that’s not Cowboy’s style.

“Someday I’m going to be 50 years old sitting down talking with all my buddies about, ‘Do you remember that sorry ass mechanic down in Riverdale (expletive) Alabama when we were laughing all night?’ It’s all part of the fun, part of the process. I love it,” said Cerrone, who did a telephone interview with the Journal on Tuesday afternoon from a friend’s boat in Florida.

Cerrone paid four mechanics nearly $500 for use of their garage, but ended up fixing the RV himself when he said they were just standing around.

“All I know is I was paying four of them $95 an hour to stand around and do nothing, so I worked on it,” Cerrone said. “… I had to take over because they were getting nothing done and I had somewhere to be.”

That somewhere to be was Orlando (he arrived there a day later than anticipated, but still checked into the fighter’s hotel before any other fighter), where after an impressive eight-fight win streak Cerrone (28-6) finally gets his title shot against Dos Anjos (24-7), a respected Brazillian fighter making his first title defense after winning the lightweight belt in March from Anthony Pettis.

“He wants to keep his belt,” Cerrone said when asked about what he expects in the fight. “He’s coming hard. I’m sure he trained real hard for this fight. He’s coming for it. There’s no question in my mind that he’s prepared and ready. So I’m going to meet him right in the middle, and we’re going to throw the (expletive) down. It’s going to be fun.”

And what about that famous move forward, always bring the fight to the opponent style that has made Cerrone a crowd favorite and helped him secure 10 fight night performance bonuses through the years?

Yeah, it’s still there.

“Of course my style is (expletive) straight forward,” Cerrone said. “I’m American. These colors don’t run, mother (expletive). Let that be your headline.”

So what about if, as he expects, victory does come and that belt is placed around his waist? Don’t expect it to stay there long.

“We’re going to bolt that son of a (expletive) to the front of the RV like a pair of antlers,” Cerrone said. “They better give me two of them if they don’t want the real one ruined.”

GOOD OMEN FOR CONDIT? The next title fight for Jackson-Wink’s gym is Jan. 2 in Las Vegas, Nev., when Albuquerque’s Carlos Condit fights Robbie Lawler in the UFC 195 main event for the UFC welterweight championship.

On Thursday, the Nevada Athletic Commission announced the referee assignments for that 12-fight event, including “Big” John McCarthy being the referee for the title fight. McCarthy, an MMA refereeing veteran, has worked only one previous Condit fight. That was on March 24, 2007, when Condit won the World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight belt in Las Vegas.

CO-MAIN EVENT: Jackson-Wink teammate Alistair Overeem (39-14), the 6-foot-4, 265-pound heavyweight who lives in Amsterdam when not training in Albuquerque, will fight No. 2 contender Junior Dos Santos (17-3) in the co-main event Saturday night.

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