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Donald Cerrone is in a confident mood heading into this weekend’s fight against Alexander Hernandez on Saturday night when the UFC makes its long awaited debut on ESPN+.
“Cowboy” returns to the lightweight division since December 2014 to face off against the surging Hernandez. Cerrone had suggested he would drop back down to the 155-pound division before his last fight against Mike Perry at UFC Fight Night 139 in November, and believes he is within striking distance of a title shot in his new-old division.
The 35-year-old has made a career of giving fans exciting fights but rarely mentions his aspirations of becoming a champion himself. Cerrone said that as he’s matured in the sport he’s started thinking about potential goals he’d like to achieve before his career is finished with the UFC (via MMA Junkie):
“Saturday, get in there and do my thing and I think I’ll take a top-five out and hopefully I’ll get the title,” Cerrone said. “I think I’m two away. I left and I was No. 2 (in the UFC rankings). I lost to (Rafael) dos Anjos then I went to ’70. I was ranked No. 2. Now I don’t have a number next to my name. But now I’m back, let’s do this fight. I think I’ll be ranked, but then I’ll get a top-five guy.”
Cerrone was asked about a potential next fight against Irish superstar Conor McGregor who he was rumored to have been in negotiations with last year. The fight never materialized and “Cowboy” jumped at the opportunity to fight in the UFC’s ESPN debut this weekend.
“We’re working for it, for sure,” Cerrone said. “Hopefully the next fight. Conor’s his own beast. He gets to dictate the spot what he wants, so it’s whether me and the UFC agree, it’s all kind of on him. He did a good job of cementing himself, so it’s all on him.”
Cerrone said he’s prepared for a tough fight on Saturday night and suggested his opponent may try and take him down, though he hopes Hernandez stands and bangs with him to give the fans what they want.
“He’s a young, hungry kid and he’s going to come hard,” Cerrone said. “He’s probably going to try to take me down and wrestle me. I hope for the fans’ sake he wants to stand and fight because that’s what everyone wants to see. I’m ready.”
UFC on ESPN+ 1, also known as UFC Fight Night 143, is headlined by a flyweight title fight between Henry Cejudo and T.J. Dillashaw on Jan. 19, 2019 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.