A cowboy will be entering the Octagon for the biggest fight of his life when he takes on Conor McGregor at UFC 246 on January 18. This is McGregor’s first fight back since his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018, and the beloved veteran Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone will welcome the Irishman back to the cage with closed fists and flying shins.
Even though Cowboy says that this fight is just like any other for him, the stakes are enormous for the fan-favorite. It would be the perfect win to add to his storybook hall-of-fame career. If Cowboy can beat McGregor, he will do it in front of millions of fans around the world. This will add another former UFC lightweight champion to his list of victims, as well as earn him potentially the largest paycheck of his fighting career. Even though this fight is at welterweight, there are huge lightweight repercussions as these are two lightweight fighters choosing not to cut weight to 155.
UFC 246 takes place January 18 at 10 p.m. Eastern time. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
There are other opponents that McGregor could have chosen to compete against for his first fight back. However, he’s going against a rival that has countless UFC records and hard-fought victories.
Here’s what you need to know about Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone:
1. Cowboy Is Tied for the Most Fights in UFC History
Cerrone is no stranger to the Octagon. Along with UFC lightweight contender Jim Miller, Cowboy holds the record for the most fights in UFC history with 33 of them. What’s most impressive about this feat is that he fought for the UFC for the first time in June 2011, less than nine years ago. This averages out to about four Octagon appearances per year, and since the UFC average is around three per year, Cerrone has a proven track record of showing up to entertain the masses.
In his 33 UFC matches, he’s fought in two different weight classes, lightweight and welterweight, including one title shot fight for the UFC lightweight strap. Although Cowboy has never touched UFC gold, he is one of the most beloved fighters in the promotion. Cowboy has always been known as an “anytime, anywhere” fighter; he is a guy who takes on all comers, proves again and again he’s one of the best in the world and provides must-see TV every time he’s on the card. And why does he keep coming back for more? He genuinely loves fighting and the process of it.
Cowboy has amassed a 23–10 record in UFC, taking on multiple top contenders in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions. However, Cerrone has done his best work at lightweight, including wins over top contenders Al Iaquinta and Edson Barboza, as well as former UFC Lightweight Champions Eddie Alvarez and Benson Henderson. The man has such a long, storied career in the UFC that he has managed to pick up a few other records on the way.
2. Cerrone Holds a Lot of Records for UFC, Including Most Wins & Performance Bonuses
For someone to fight as much as Cowboy and last this long in the UFC, they need to be exceptional at MMA. Cerrone is the sole owner of multiple UFC records, each earned with blood, grit and a fan-pleasing fighting style.
The man knows how to win in the UFC, and with 23 of them, he’s earned the record for most wins in the promotion’s history. Altogether, he has 17 victories at lightweight and six at welterweight, and those wins have come with a lot of performance bonuses. Cowboy has the record for most bonuses in UFC history: 20 of them. That includes bonuses for Fight of the Night (6), Performance of the Night (7), Knockout of the Night (3) and Submission of the Night (2).
Cowboy has won these fights and bonuses by putting on show-stopping performances. He also holds the record for most finishes in the UFC with 16, brutalizing ten fighters by KO or TKO and six by submission. He’s also gotten a historic 20 knockdowns. Cowboy is a lethal fighter, and he will be bringing his veteran experience into the Octagon with him when he takes on his rival Conor McGregor.
3. Cowboy Cerrone & McGregor Have Been on a Collision Course for Years
In less than three weeks, Cowboy and McGregor will be locked in a black cage together, and one of the best narratives to this fight is that it’s been years in the making. The fight between Cowboy and McGregor became inevitable after their verbal match took place during the UFC Go Big press conference in 2015.
Multiple fighters took part in the press conference, including McGregor, who was promoting his fight against champ Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title, and Cerrone, who was there to hype up his lightweight title fight against champion Rafael dos Anjos.
This was the press conference where McGregor gave the famous “bust out the red panties” quip to Rafael dos Anjos. But right after that verbal jab, Cerrone chimed in to let everyone know his opinion on McGregor’s inevitable move up to lightweight.
“Conor has no right coming up to ’55. There’s no way; he’s not gonna stand a chance,” Cerrone said during the presser. “We’re too big for him, too strong, so you can take your little English a— and get on.”
In typical McGregor fashion, he came back with a scathing remark aimed at Cerrone, and then towards the whole division.
“You’re too slow and too stiff, you’re as stiff as a board. I’d snap you in half,” he said. “I see stiffness when I look in that 155-pound division. Slow, stiff. I feel like they’re stuck in the mud almost. The featherweights they hit like flyweights. So, it’s nice down there just destroying them and killing that whole division. But I have my eye on that 155 division, and I see them all stuck in the mud.”
Since this press conference, the meeting between Cerrone and McGregor has been on the table.
There have been a few McGregor callouts by Cowboy throughout the years, including during his post-fight speech at Ottawa’s UFC event last summer. It has taken over four years, but the two will finally lock horns in the world’s biggest MMA promotion. However, it will be at welterweight, not lightweight.
4. McGregor-Cerrone at UFC 246 Will Be Used As a Gauge to See if Cerrone Will Fight for UFC Gold Again
In Cowboy’s illustrious career, he has only ever fought for UFC gold once. He competed for the UFC lightweight title against the champion Rafael dos Anjos, the two meeting in the center of the Octagon on December 19, 2015. The fight only lasted one minute, with Cerrone being finished by a vicious body kick followed up by a relentless barrage of strikes and pressure from the champ. That was the last time Cerrone fought for gold.
At 36 years old and with 50 professional MMA fights to his name, Donald Cerrone is getting closer to the end of his career. However, there is one thing that fight fans know about Cowboy, and that’s to not count him out. He’s always a few fights away from a top contender fight, and if he can take out McGregor on January 18, it would be tough to deny Cowboy a top contender match at lightweight.
So, that is why his performance at UFC 246 will be telling. This fight is taking place at welterweight, but make no mistake about it, these are two of the top lightweights in the world.
Even though McGregor hasn’t won a UFC fight since 2016, he is still at the top of the lightweight division. A win over McGregor will raise Cerrone’s already high stock at lightweight. And if he doesn’t win, it may be a telltale sign that Cowboy will never have the opportunity to go for gold again.
5. Donald Cerrone Is a Real-Life Cowboy
The man known as Cowboy prides himself as being a “guy’s guy.” And why is he known by millions of fans as Cowboy? Well, let Cerrone tell you himself:
This video gives the fan a quick glimpse into the life of Cerrone.
In this UFC feature he says: “If I were to describe my personality, I would say I’m a cowboy. A wild person. Just hardworking, doing what I love,”
Cerrone owns a ranch in New Mexico called the BMF Ranch, where he enjoys the typical country life of riding horses, shooting guns, and feeding and taking care of his farm animals.
He is also known for his wild side and his thirst for extreme adventures.
“If it’s fun, and it makes your a—hole pucker, I’m doing it,” Cowboy says in the video. “I ride horses, ride bikes, skydiving, bungee jumping, wakeboarding, rock climbing. Just recently got my pilot’s license.”
And that’s not to mention that Cerrone gets locked into a cage multiple times a year to compete against the best fighters in the world.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is a shoo-in for the UFC Hall of Fame. Going into this McGregor match, he is gearing up for the biggest fight of his life. Historically, Conor McGregor fights are the most-watched UFC events of the year. This means there is an excellent chance that Cerrone will have more eyeballs on him than ever before, which in turn will be the most significant financial night of his fighting life.
This is a massive opportunity for Cowboy to get a win over the most famous UFC fighter ever, as well as earn a paycheck that many believe he deserves. He will have his hands full when he takes on Conor McGregor at UFC 246, and he will be relying on his experience and dynamic fighting style to try and get the job done.