Donald Cerrone faces Conor McGregor in the Irishman’s long-awaited comeback bout scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 18 at UFC 246 in Las Vegas.
As fight night approaches, the massive ESPN+ pay-per-view event will mostly be heralded as the grand return McGregor, the UFC’s top box-office star and arguably the most popular MMA fighter on the planet.
But fighters like Cerrone, hardworking contenders who suddenly find themselves standing in front of huge megastars coming off long layoffs, should never be dismissed as easy marks.
UFC 246 takes place January 18 at 10 p.m. Eastern time. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
Make that double for guys with Cerrone’s long list of excellent credentials. Cerrone, 36, from Denver, CO, is one of the toughest and most accomplished MMA athletes in the world.
Perhaps most importantly, Cerrone possesses a unique blend of skill, experience, and old-fashioned fervor that could spell ultimate doom for McGregor. Because Cerrone isn’t just some random guy – he’s one of the baddest fighters in all of combat sports.
Here are six reasons McGregor might be in for the fight of his life against him at UFC 246.
1. Donald Cerrone Has Way More Recent Wins Than Conor McGregor
Cerrone won’t simply be climbing inside the Octagon to be a sacrificial lamb.
In fact, Cerrone will be the one entering the cage that has actually won a fight over the last three years.
McGregor’s last win came against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016 when he became the first fighter to simultaneously hold UFC titles in two different weights classes.
But while McGregor was off chasing boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. around during 2017 to make millions by getting knocked out inside of a boxing ring, and then busy getting choked out by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October 2018 in a comeback bout that was probably too big an ask for anyone, Cerrone stayed the course by plying his trade against some of the very best fighters in the sport.
Over the last three years, the math works out to Cerrone earning four UFC victories to McGregor’s zero.
While it’s easy to look back at clips of McGregor on YouTube and marvel at the wonder of seeing the biggest MMA superstar of a generation, the McGregor that actually created those highlight-reel knockouts against former champions and future Hall of Famers hasn’t been seen in some time now.
2. Win Over McGregor Would Change Donald Cerrone’s Life Forever
Situationally, things couldn’t be set up better for Cerrone to turn in the best performance of his career.
McGregor represents the clearest and straightest path for Cerrone to finally lay claim to one of the top positions in the sport, so he’s likely to turn in his very best effort.
Sure, Cerrone might not bolster the same level of mainstream appeal as the incredibly popular McGregor, but he’s certainly still considered one of the top lightweight contenders in the UFC.
Moreover, Cerrone has earned a reputation over the years as the kind of fighter who will take on anybody and do it anywhere. His tenacity in the cage is world-renowned, and it’s only matched by his incredible penchant for creating violent action fights.
There have been plenty of cases throughout the history of combat sports of fighters hitting it big like McGregor only to never quite regain the edge they used to climb up the mountain.
So, if any fighter is poised for a breakout performance, its Cerrone. This is the single biggest fight of this man’s entire life. For McGregor, a necessary stepping stone to the more lucrative opportunities he desires down the line.
3. Cerrone Already Owns 3 Amazing UFC Records
Cerrone is one of the most accomplished fighters in UFC history. Beating McGregor would be just another amazing factoid to add to that ledger.
While he’s never been able to capture a UFC championship, Cerrone has consistently done something few fighters in the sport have ever been able to achieve. He wins fights, and he has done that against solid opposition over a long period of time.
In fact, Cerrone holds UFC records for most wins, finishes and post-fight bonuses in UFC history, and he probably isn’t intent on slowing down anytime soon.
Moreover, Cerrone is currently ranked No. 5 in the UFC’s 155-pound lightweight division, and a win over McGregor, albeit in a contest set at the 170-pound limit of the welterweight division, would certainly help him add yet another digit to one, two or all three of his impressive UFC records.
4. Cerrone Originally Introduced ‘BMF’ Into the UFC Lexicon
Cerrone is the UFC’s original BMF.
Way before Jorge Masvidal strutted around with first-ever “BMF” title belted around his waist after stopping Nate Diaz at UFC 244, it was Cerrone who first introduced the concept to the UFC audience.
Cerrone’s property in New Mexico has been named the BMF Ranch since at least 2014 when Cerrone first gave ESPN’s Brett Okamoto a guided tour and told Okamoto about its full purpose beyond the obvious.
In addition to Cerrone’s personal interests, the fighter says he built the ranch with the idea that other fighters would someday travel to it from far and wide to train alongside him. That’s exactly what transpired. Today, fighters from all levels of the sport travel to New Mexico seeking to learn way more than just about fighting there. Cerrone teaches them things he believes every human being should know how to do.
Those things include certified BMF activities such as hitching a trailer, framing a house and changing a tire, which is basically all the things Cerrone believes a BMF human being should be able to do beyond simply knowing how to fight.
If you’re wondering, by the way, Cerrone said there were no hard feelings about Masvidal and Diaz competing for the BMF title. He just wished he could face the winner.
If he beats McGregor, he might actually get that chance.
5. Not Just a Nickname: Cerrone is a Legit ‘Cowboy’
If you’re not yet convinced Cerrone is legitimately one of the baddest fighters in the world today, consider that Cerrone is actually a cowboy.
Fighters attach themselves to promotional nicknames for all sorts of crazy reasons, but “Cowboy” Cerrone lives and trains at a fully operational ranch where he reportedly does all the things real cowboys do such as rides horses, shoot guns and puts in hard days of labor on various projects.
And Cerrone’s cowboy ways don’t stop there. According to ESPN.com’s Jeff Wagenheim, Cerrone even grew up competing as a bull rider and aspired at one time to make it all the way to the top level of the sport.
A tough, affable and tenacious MMA fighter/bull rider/cowboy?
Cerrone is basically this generation’s version of the “The Lone Ranger.”
6. Cerrone Has Been Calling Out McGregor For Years
Cerrone being McGregor’s next opponent is no random occurrence.
The potential of seeing McGregor-Cerrone is actually something that’s been on the minds of fight fans for years now, and Cerrone was the one calling out McGregor repeatedly trying to make the fight happen.
It finally worked, and McGregor-Cerrone is now the first big fight of 2020.
While Cerrone has lost his last two contests, those drubbings came at the hands of two of the hottest fighters in the sport right now in Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson. While McGregor is certainly very talented and accomplished, he can’t really be considered one of the hottest fighters in the sport at the present.
It’s been way too long since he’s won a fight.
Besides, Cerrone has likely played this matchup over and over again in his mind in hopeful anticipation of getting the fight. He’s watched as McGregor’s fame grew to enormous heights over the years, and he’s waited patiently for his big chance to prove he’s the better fighter.
Cerrone’s wish has finally been granted. No matter how you envision this one unfolding, UFC 246 features an excellent main event between two of the toughest competitors the sport has to offer.
One of them, Cerrone, has long dreamt of getting his hands on McGregor. Now, that moment is sure to become reality on Jan. 18 at the MGM Grand in Vegas.
And Cerrone, one of the baddest fighters in the UFC, absolutely has the repertoire to pull off the win.