LAS VEGAS -- Donald Cerrone had been here before.
It was January, in the heat of battle against Jamie Varner for the WEC lightweight title. Cerrone landed an illegal knee that put Varner out of commission, ending the fight prematurely and depriving him of a chance to finish.
It almost happened again Saturday, as Cerrone was deducted one point in the first and second round after landing illegal knees to Ed Ratcliff’s groin.
This time, though, it didn’t cost him.
“My hats off go to Ed; he could have quit the fight at any time, got me disqualified,” Cerrone said in a press conference following WEC 45. “Thank you, Ed.”
Ratcliff thanked Cerrone back for a fight that earned both $10,000 extra bank for the promotion’s “Fight of the Night” bonus.
“There was never a point in time where I was going to quit,” Ratcliff said, drawing a quick clap from Cerrone. “It’s part of the game, so it is what it is. I needed a little time, for sure. It didn’t feel good.”
Cerrone was apologetic both in the press conference and in the cage. At one point, he went over to Ratcliff’s mother, who was flailing about at cageside, and offered his apology through the chain link. Ratcliff smiled knowingly when Cerrone relayed the story.
“She was like, ‘Ahhhh!’” Cerrone said. “She was, like, legitimately mad.”
Cerrone was given the first two rounds 10-9 by all three judges before the point deduction.
“I knew in my head that I was losing the fight; I got two points deducted,” he said. “And I was like, I don’t care, I’m having a good time. And that’s all I care about. I’m going to finish this fight.”
Cerrone’s fight-ending rear-naked choke submission was precipitated by a triangle/kneebar attempt that bent Ratcliff’s leg at an ungodly angle. Ratcliff said he wasn’t in any trouble.
“I’m flexible, man,” he said. “I can do a split and all of that.”
Cerrone was clamoring to rematch Varner, but dropped a razor-close decision in September in an interim title fight against Benson Henderson. Cerrone shut out title implications and took the fight with Ratcliff, who’s only fought twice in the past two years, for other reasons.
“This fight was solely for me,” he said. “This fight was all about me and maturing my mind, mentally. I was out there having fun.”
The press conference also included some injury updates, as three fighters required hospitalization after the show. Jameel Massouh suffered a broken shoulder, John Hosman suffered a broken nose and Chris Horodecki required treatment for an eye injury.
Anthony Njokuani, who defeated Horodecki via TKO, said Horodecki’s move to run across the cage to create distance was ill-advised, creating an opening for a head kick that led to the finish.
“That was the dumbest move he made,” Njokuani said. “A guy like me, with long giraffe legs, it’s going to come in from a long way.”