We see by their outfits that they are both cowboys.
But that‚Äôs not how Alex Oliveira sees it.
Oliveira, the Brazilian MMA fighter who will face Albuquerque-based Donald ‚ÄúCowboy‚ÄĚ Cerrone on Sunday in the main event of a ‚ÄúUFC Fight Night‚ÄĚ card in Pittsburgh, is claiming, he ‚Äď not Cerrone ‚Äď is the rightful owner of the nickname.
‚ÄúI am the real cowboy,‚ÄĚ Oliveira said in an interview with mmamania.com. ‚ÄúI used to ride on real bulls. I used to compete in real rodeos.‚ÄĚ
Cerrone‚Äôs cowboy credentials are solid, as well. He owns and operates BMF Ranch (the first two words represented by the acronym are ‚Äúbad‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúmother‚ÄĚ), about 45 minutes outside Albuquerque. When he‚Äôs training at Jackson-Wink MMA, it‚Äôs not unusual to see Cowboy‚Äôs horse trailer (complete with horses) outside.
If there‚Äôs a controversy here, or even a grudge, Cerrone isn‚Äôt letting on. In a phone interview with the Journal, he seemed more amused than irritated.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt care about that,‚ÄĚ Cerrone said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs funny. ‚Ä¶ I don‚Äôt know how you can come in late to the game and say, ‚ÄėOh, yeah, that guy‚Äôs not (a cowboy). I‚Äôm the real cowboy.‚Äô Just a media spin on it, I guess.‚ÄĚ
The original happy warrior, Cerrone needs little motivation beyond just having a fight. He made an exception for Myles Jury, whom he defeated by unanimous decision in January 2015 ‚Äď punishing him with third-round leg kicks because he felt Jury hadn‚Äôt come to fight and because Jury had defeated Diego Sanchez, Cerrone‚Äôs Jackson-Wink teammate, and bragged about it.
But he seems to harbor no hostility toward Oliveira, despite the cowboy thing.
If Oliveira‚Äôs coming in late to the game as an MMA cowboy, he‚Äôs also coming in late to Sunday‚Äôs fight.
Cerrone originally was slated to fight Moriarty‚Äôs Tim Means, who trains in Albuquerque at FIT-NHB. A UFC fight between those rival gyms had never happened before.
Nor will it happen Sunday. In an out-of-competition drug test, Means tested positive for a banned substance ‚Äď he denies knowingly having ingested anything that‚Äôs prohibited ‚Äď and was pulled from the card.
Cerrone was aware of the excitement generated by the Jackson-Wink vs. FIT-NHB angle, but said he was never caught up in it.
‚ÄúIt was just a fight,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI think it meant more to FIT, just to try to get their name back.‚ÄĚ
Means was pulled from the card 2¬Ĺ weeks ago, and Oliveira accepted the fight the next day ‚Äď giving Cerrone plenty of time to adjust. But Cerrone, who last year took a fight with former UFC champion Benson Henderson with 15 days notice ‚Äď and won ‚Äď cares nothing about such things.
‚ÄúIt doesn‚Äôt make a difference to me,‚ÄĚ he said of the change in opponents. ‚ÄúThe problem‚Äôs gonna lie on (Oliveira‚Äôs) side.‚ÄĚ
This is Cerrone‚Äôs first fight at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds after a long career at lightweight (155). Oliveira (13-3-1), a career welterweight, believes he‚Äôll have a size and strength advantage.
Once again, Cerrone (28-7) simply doesn‚Äôt care.
‚ÄúNothing‚Äôs changed at all,‚ÄĚ he said of his training at Jackson-Wink. ‚ÄúI spar with bigger guys anyway, so there‚Äôs been no difference.‚ÄĚ
Experience, without question, is on Cerrone‚Äôs side.
Oliveira is a relative newcomer to UFC competition, with just four previous fights under the circuit‚Äôs banner. This will be Cerrone‚Äôs 20th UFC fight.
Stylistically, Cerrone said, Oliveira is less a cowboy than a bull. Sunday‚Äôs fight has the potential for a brawl between two cowboys in an eight-sided saloon.
Of Cerrone‚Äôs 35 fights, only 11 have gone to the scorecards. Of Oliveira‚Äôs 17 fights, 13 have ended early.
The original MMA Cowboy likes the matchup.
‚ÄúOliveira‚Äôs definitely more unorthodox (than Means),‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWay more wild. (It could be) a wild cage match, definitely.‚ÄĚ
Cerrone said he hasn‚Äôt decided whether the move to 170 is temporary or permanent. But he‚Äôs enjoyed not having to make 155.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no weight cut at all,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm able to drink and eat whatever the hell I want, so it‚Äôs working out just fine.‚ÄĚ
Cerrone is coming off a devastating loss by first-round TKO to Rafael Dos Anjos in a UFC lightweight title fight. But devastation is a relative term.
‚ÄúI was over it right away,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúUp and over.‚ÄĚ
If he can get up and over Oliveira in Pittsburgh, the welterweight division could become his new home on the range.
Derek Brunson (14-3), Cerrone‚Äôs teammate at Jackson-Wink, is also on Sunday‚Äôs card. Brunson, a middleweight (185 pounds), will face Brazil‚Äôs Roan Carneiro (20-9).
The card starts at 3:30 p.m. MST, with three fights to be streamed on ‚ÄúUFC Fight Pass.‚ÄĚ The Fox Sports 1 televised portion of the show starts at 5 p.m. The Cerrone-Oliveira and Brunson-Carneiro fights are headlining the main card, which begins at 7 p.m.