Donald Cerrone found himself in an unenviable position Saturday night, when he was matched against friend and former teammate Melvin Guillard in the co-main event of UFC 150.
Cerrone emerged victorious from the lightweight clash at Denver’s Pepsi Center, but the win did not come easily, even after Cerrone found himself in the driver’s seat by flooring Guillard with a vicious right.
Guillard -- who trained with Cerrone at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., before relocating to Florida and joining the Blackzilians -- fell face first to the mat, primed to receive one last haymaker from his former sparring partner. The blow did not come. Instead, Cerrone began to position himself for a rear-naked choke before the bout was waved off by referee Josh Rosenthal.
“[Before the fight], a lot of people were asking me, ‘Will it be hard to finish a teammate?’ And I would say, ‘No,’” Cerrone said at the post-fight press conference. “[But when I was] actually there with that finishing blow, it was very hard. So instead, I went for the choke.”
Though Cerrone’s flourish to finish the fight was an impressive one, it appeared early that it would actually be Guillard’s night. Cerrone came out aggressively and paid for it, as Guillard dropped him with a hard counter left hook and immediately pursued the knockout, launching an extended flurry of strikes as Cerrone did his best to circle away and recover.
“I was extremely hurt, especially from the knee to the body,” said Cerrone. It took everything in me to just fight through it and keep going. That was probably the worst I’ve ever been injured in a fight. All I could think of was just sucking it up and keeping my composure [so I could] keep going.”
His wits only partially regained, Cerrone dramatically turned the tide of the bout by launching a whipping lead-leg high kick that buzzed Guillard’s skull put him on wobbly legs. The previously described right hand would follow just moments later.
“Frankly, I thought I just grazed the top of him. I didn’t realize I connected as well as I did. Thankfully, I did, and I was able to follow with the right hand. In training, that’s what I was working on. He drops his hands and fades off that way a lot,” said Cerrone. “He came out very explosive and very aggressive, just like I thought he would. I came in too amped up. I’ve got to work on that. He came out and hit me hard, just like I figured he would.”
A Colorado native, Cerrone says that his haste in trying to take the fight to Guillard was due in part to his excitement over fighting in front of a hometown crowd.
“The feeling was unbelievable. I’ve fought here a number of times, and this was the most energy I’ve ever felt,” said Cerrone. “I wanted to just stop and [look around] and do a full circle. It was incredible.”
Another victory now listed among his 19 career wins, Cerrone can look toward his next challenge. “Cowboy” previously named Anthony Pettis as the lightweight he would next like to face. When asked if that attitude still holds true, Cerrone did not mince words.
“That’s a fight I definitely would like. Let’s sign it today.”