Dating back to 2017, Donald Cerrone has suffered five losses in UFC competition by knockout or technical knockout – all against some of the top names in the sport today.
Perhaps the most surprising of those, at least in terms of how it arrived, was Saturday’s 40-second TKO defeat against Conor McGregor in the UFC 246 headliner. Cerrone failed to land a single significant strike as McGregor immediately stunned him with a serious of hard shoulder strikes in the clinch. From there, the Irishman rocked “Cowboy” with a high kick before finishing off his victory with a series of heavy punches.
“I’d never seen anything like that,” said Cerrone, who was transported to a hospital after the event. “He took me way off guard. Busted my nose, started bleeding and then stepped back and head kicked me. I was like ‘Oh man, this happened this fast? I got my assed whipped early.’ I love this sport, I’m gonna keep fighting. I don’t care, this is what I love.”
In addition to McGregor, the 36-year-old Cerrone has been stopped by Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal in recent years. While the damage may be taking its toll on the BMF Ranch founder, UFC president Dana White emphasized that Saturday’s result was more about McGregor’s excellence than anything to do with Cerrone’s decline.
“I didn’t see that coming. I’ve been beating the drum all week – I don’t like him fighting at 170. He’ll probably come in at 167, Cowboy will come in at 180-something. All the things I said – you won’t hear another peep out of me about him fighting at 170. He proved himself tonight. Unbelievable,” White told ESPN .
“There’s gonna be people – media, fans – and they’re gonna say, ‘Cowboy was shot.’ Cowboy wasn’t shot. Conor McGregor went out there and absolutely destroyed tonight. It was unbelievable.”
Many observers believed Cerrone’s best chance at victory would come in the later rounds of a five-round fight as McGregor fatigued. The “Notorious” one made sure that didn’t happen, despite White’s belief that Cerrone possessed a more versatile arsenal heading into the bout.
“He came out tonight and literally silenced all the critics. You can not like Conor McGregor, but you can’t not respect what happened tonight,” White said. “Realistically, when you break this fight down, Cowboy had more weapons than McGregor did. Kicks, knees, elbows, punches. If it goes to the ground, his ground game’s unbelievable. And Conor shut all that down and destroyed him easily at 170 pounds.”