Donald Cerrone: Looking Past Ed Ratcliff

“I’m going to call out Jose Aldo and drop down to 145… I’m going to stay at 155, but just also going to fight at 145.”

– Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone

It’s not the best timing in the world to be headlining a WEC event with an underwhelming main event. Nothing against either Donald Cerrone or Ed Ratcliff, but the match appears to be rather one sided and without any immediate implications.

If Ratcliff shocks the world and defeats Cerrone, sure, he’ll move up the ladder in WEC’s Lightweight division, but he will remain on the outside looking in at the upcoming title match between Jamie Varner and Ben Henderson. In the likely scenario that Cowboy emerges victorious, he’s still the third best in a division that he, at least temporarily, will be departing. And let us not forget that this event will be going head-to-head with a Strikeforce event featuring the returns of both Cung Le and Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson.

But aside from that, everything is great. No, really.

While Saturday’s WEC event is one that only the most die hard of fans will go out of their way to see, there’s a lot to like about the show. The undercard is filled with tremendous talent that should yield some exciting matches. No surprise there; that’s WEC’s go-to move.

As for the main event, it feels like anything but.

On paper, Cerrone v. Ratcliff is an evenly matched contest. Cerrone has just two career losses, one to the current WEC Lightweight Champion, Jamie Varner, and the other to the current Interim Lightweight Champion, Ben Henderson. Cerrone looked good in both fights, particularly in the latter where many observers scored the fight in his favor. Ratcliff’s enjoys a similar résumé is similar, as a submission loss to Marcus Hicks represents his only blemish in eight career fights.

The problem for Ratcliff is that he is a Tae Kwon Do fighter going against a Thai boxer who has earned nine of his 10 career victories via submission. Cerrone will mitigate Ratcliff’s strength and exploit his weakness.

It should be an exciting fight while it lasts. I’ll set the over/under at five minutes.

Win or lose, Cerrone will depart from WEC’s Lightweight division. He won’t be going far, though, as he’s chosen to pursue Jose Aldo’s recently earned Featherweight title. It’s an interesting decision, as Cerrone has a rematch with the winner of Varner v. Henderson waiting for him. That match may still happen, as Cerrone plans to compete in both divisions, but a rematch will have to wait if Cerrone is serious about fighting Aldo for the title.

Cerrone will likely have to face someone in addition to the champion en route to the Featherweight title. Jose Aldo is likely to make his first title defense against Urijah Faber in the spring, provided the former champ is able to defeat Rafael Assuncao on January 10, 2010. That would pave the way for Cerrone to compete against any of the numerous other talented Featherweights WEC has to offer. Many up-and-comers would put up exciting fights with Cerrone, but the obvious opponent for Cerrone at Featherweight would be the man succeeded by Jose Aldo as champion, Mike Brown.

This would be a win-win for WEC. Whether Cerrone or Brown win the match, there will be a definitive top contender awaiting the winner of Aldo v. Faber.

There is, however, some concern about whether or not Cerrone can make the cut to 145lbs. While Cerrone shows a clear passion for making the move to Featherweight, his physical stature may work against him. Cerrone has had difficulty cutting to 155lbs. in the past, which presumably led to Cerrone use and subsequently test positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic drug.

Presuming Cerrone’s ability make the cut without any adverse affects, we should be in for a great treat. Whether he faces Brown, Aldo, Faber, or just about any of the other Featherweights in WEC, Cowboy will put on a show. Regardless of how he fares at Featherweight, he should still have a rematch with either Henderson or Varner awaiting him upon hist return to Lightweight.

There is no shortage of intriguing matches for Donald Cerrone, even if his match this Saturday isn’t one of them.

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