In theory, the 36-year-old Donald Cerrone’s physical prime is in the rearview mirror, and it wasn’t long ago “Cowboy” was on a three-fight losing streak. But, following Cerrone’s one-sided win last night, the rugged vet made comments that suggest he could be even more dangerous at 155 now.
Cerrone took on the always tough and dangerous Al Iaquinta at UFC Ottawa, and outstruck the contender for a decisive, decision win. The victory was Cerrone’s third in a row, and it was his second since he returned to the lightweight division earlier this year.
Well, following the victory, Cerrone had some extremely interesting things to say about how he felt to begin the fight (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I was telling my corners, I felt terrible starting that fight,” Cerrone said. “I couldn’t find it, back in the locker room I didn’t want to warm up. I didn’t want to get ready, I didn’t want to hit pads, I didn’t want to wrestle. I didn’t want to fight until the second round. People always say I’m a slow starter and, ‘What Cowboy are you going to get?’ And we train hard, we train so hard and we try and find for our opponents to beat us so that we can show up and beat them on our worst day. And today was my worst day.
“Thank God it’s been 41 fights in Zuffa that I’ve been here because I was able to, like, fake it ‘til you make it, ‘cause you fake it long enough and you find it. In the second round it was like, there it is and let’s go to work. It’s just tough, because I think the younger me would have quit. It’s just crazy, there’s like memes out there of lions with little cubs saying, ‘I would have quit until I realized who was watching’ and it was like, yeah, motherf*cker, let’s go.”
If you’ve followed Cerrone over the years, then you know the big knock against him in the past, was that he mentally crumbled in big fights. “Cowboy”, as he also alluded to above, admitted he often had trouble getting started in bouts.
So, when you consider Cerrone’s comments above, and evaluate how he’s performed in his last two fights, there’s reasons to think we could be watching “Cowboy” at his best. Yes, even at this stage of his career. In January, Cerrone took out Alex Hernandez, who is widely considered to be one of the most promising fighters at 155. Now Cerrone’s defeated a man who isn’t far removed from beating Kevin Lee.
Now, does this mean Cerrone has beat time somehow? And is faster and stronger than he was when he was 30? No. But, it’s certainly possible that due to improvements to his game, both mentally and technically, “Cowboy” is more dangerous than before.