The Film Room: Donald Cerrone

By Kevin Wilson Jun 20, 2018
Donald Cerrone will take on rising welterweight contender Leon Edwards in the UFC Fight Night 132 main event on Saturday in Kallang, Singapore. “Cowboy” remains one of the most accomplished fighters in the history of the sport and undoubtedly wants to get back to his winning ways after a difficult 2017 campaign.

The latest installment in The Film Room series focuses on Cerrone’s techniques and strategies.

‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’

Cerrone is a true MMA pioneer, and at 35 years old, he is still fighting the cream of the crop in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Known as one of the most prolific fighters in the sport, “Cowboy” saw his popularity rise during his days in World Extreme Cagefighting, where his activity level and classic fights with Benson Henderson, Jamie Varner and “Razor” Rob McCullough lifted him to new heights. Since joining the UFC in 2011, “Cowboy” has racked up an incredible 20-7 record -- an average of three fights per year. He pairs muay Thai skills with one of the most underrated ground games in the sport.

A dazzling sequence against Rick Story showed off Cerrone’s standup abilities. He has adopted a classic muay Thai style. His stance resembles the likes of Saenchai and Smart Payakaroon, with his upright torso and hands high and tight while always keeping a light lead leg for teeps and front kicks. The rear straight to the body, lead hook and rear head kick combination is a classic muay Thai combo that was a favorite of the legendary Somrak Khamsing.

Although muay Thai fighters are known for their kicks, “Cowboy” also has marvelous boxing skills and often relies on his hands. Cerrone dropped Patrick Cote multiple times in their fight, but it was a leaping hook and series of right hands that finished the job.

Like any true Nak Muay, “Cowboy” does his best work with kicks. Cerrone realized early on that Matt Brown was dipping far to his right after jabs and keeping his rear hand too low. “Cowboy” continually looked for lead leg pendulum head kicks to exploit this weakness and eventually ended the fight with one of them.

“Cowboy” offers an underrated grappling game and uses it to his advantage on the feet. Since opponents are worried about his grappling and know he will not shoot for takedowns without a purpose behind them, it allows him to land creative combinations. “Cowboy” often shoots at the hips but immediately abandons the takedown, grabs the clinch and lands a knee to the body and a head kick at the end.

Those who fail to respect Cerrone’s ground game find themselves taken down and defending submissions. Against Alex Oliveira, the Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay pushed the fight to the ground early and locked up a mounted triangle before moving to his back to secure the choke. Nearly half (16) of Cerrone’s 33 career victories have come by submission.

As Robert Frost’s poem reads, “nothing gold can stay,” which means all good things must come to an end. That will ring true for Cerrone’s career at some point. “Cowboy” lost all three of his fights in 2017 but rebounded with a technical knockout of Yancy Medeiros. After his loss to Darren Till, some wondered whether or not it was time for him to dial down the difficulty; that has never been The Cowboy Way. Cerrone continues to fight the best of the best. In Edwards, he faces a former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion on a five-fight winning streak and an opponent who seems to be on the fast track to contention in the welterweight division.


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