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MMA: Fast lifestyle not slowing Cerrone

Sure, the pictures plastered all over social media show him drinking, laughing and living.

Whether it’s wakeboarding, recording podcasts with friends at the bar inside his BMF Ranch in Edgewood or diving – both sky and scuba in recent months – the Instagram and Twitter feeds of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone show the fast life of a man who loves to have fun.

“The fun, sure, that’s something I work my ass off on,” said the Jackson-Wink trained mixed martial artist. “The fighting is just something I do.”

Don’t let the seemingly carefree lifestyle he portrays fool you. Cerrone didn’t rise to become one of the most popular fighters in the world without the dedication to succeed.

“That guy outworks everyone in the gym. He’s a beast,” said Jackson-Wink striking coach Brandon Gibson, who will be in Cerrone’s corner tonight at UFC Fight Night 89 in Ottawa. Cerrone (29-7) takes on Canada’s Patrick “The Predator” Cote in a 170-pound welterweight co-main event fight. The nationally televised (FS1) fight is Cerrone’s second in a row stepping up from his usual 155-pound lightweight division.

“Cowboy really focuses a lot of his social media on his life outside of fighting,” Gibson said. “There is a reason he has so many fights under the Zuffa (UFC’s parent company) banner, because of how hard he works. All of the extracurricular wild activities come secondary to all of the disciplined training that he puts in.”

Cote, who has said he deserves a welterweight title shot when, not if, he finishes Cerrone in the octagon tonight, was stone-faced and intense while awaiting the customary pose down for cameras at Friday’s weigh-ins.

Cerrone, meanwhile, stepped off the scale, adjusted his black cowboy hat and strolled up to Cote with a huge smile and reached out for a handshake.

“Let’s go have some fun, huh?” he said with a laugh, briefly breaking Cote’s intensity and drawing a half smile. “You can try to kill all you want. Have fun.”

Cerrone isn’t afraid to have fun, even in the face of sometimes heavy criticism suggesting he doesn’t take his craft seriously enough.

“It’s so funny to me,” Cerrone said. “I’ll post a picture doing something fun (on Twitter or Instagram) and people will leave a comment, ‘Get in the gym!’ Man, you can’t train all day long. And another thing – nobody wants to see a whole Instagram page of your (expletive) training pictures, you know what I mean? So, let’s keep it frosty.”

It’s hard to argue with the results. He’s 9-1 in his last 10 fights with the setback coming Dec. 19 to UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos.

While Cerrone insisted to the Journal on Wednesday he wasn’t looking past Cote, he also admitted he’d take short-notice fights against Conor McGregor or Nate Diaz if either gets injured in training before their UFC 202 main event. And he would really like to finally take on oft-injured Khabib Nurmagomedov, the 23-0 Russian who has been scheduled to fight Cerrone four times before each was scratched for various reasons.

As for the task at hand, though, Cerrone says facing an opponent used to the heavier weight class won’t change his approach.

“I’m going to stand and bang with him, that’s for damn sure,” Cerrone said.

Even so, he and his coaches still respect the challenge ahead.

“Good punching power,” coach Mike Winkeljohn said of Cote. “He’s a guy who used to fight at a higher weight division and he’s been around a long time. He’s definitely a veteran like Cowboy that has good power. He has good size – Cowboy’s moving up in weight – so (Cote) has that advantage, if that could be seen as an advantage against Cowboy.”

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