Donald Cerrone takes on Tony Ferguson this weekend in one of the most anticipated fights of the year, and he is excited about what the fight may bring -- and confident about the reasons behind his own career resurgence.
“There’s not many guys who just hit the ground, roll, come up, throw an elbow, (and) spin with such conviction,” Cerrone told MMA Junkie. “This is going to be one of those fights where you don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what Tony’s going to do. He’s going to bring it, and we’re going to stand and throw the (expletive) down. I think for the fans, they know that as well.
“It’s fun. I love it. I love, love, love, love it. I don’t know what else to say other than that. People know (when) ‘Cowboy’ is fighting (they need to) pull the (expletive) car over, find a bar, buy the pay-per-view, and watch it, because it’s going down.”
Cerrone is in career-best form as he looks to make another run at a UFC title. Questions were asked of the now 36-year-old back in 2017 where he lost three fights on the trot against Jorge Masvidal, Robbie Lawler and Darren Till. However, “Cowboy” has seen a recent resurgence, stringing together three successive wins over Mike Perry, Alexander Hernandez and most recently Al Iaquinta to earn himself a shot at the No. 2-ranked Ferguson. Cerrone believes his recent form is down to becoming a more mature fighter and believing in his own ability.
“Believing in yourself is like the hardest thing to do,” Cerrone said. “You don’t believe you’re as good as these guys you’re in here with sometimes. Some people have the mindset where they think they’re better. I was always like, ‘Man, I’m in there with these guys? I’m at the top with the UFC?’ If you look back at my career, I’ve been at the top my whole career. It’s not like I’ve fallen through the ranks and worried if I lose a fight they might cut me. Even in WEC.
“So it’s time like, ‘Maybe you do belong here, maybe it’s time? Let’s go.’ Maybe it just came with age. I feel like I’m in my prime (at) 36. I’m a late starter. Didn’t even go through puberty until I was like 18. So maybe my prime is a little bit later than everyone else’s.”
While many believe Cerrone’s purple patch in form has coincided with him becoming the father, the UFC record holder doesn’t buy into it and said it’s down to a desire for the first time in his career to be a UFC champion.
“I don’t think that’s the secret weapon,” Cerrone said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, he has a kid now, now he’s fighting for something.’ No, just I think I’ve matured a lot with age and as a fighter. Now it’s time. Years ago I’d like, ‘I don’t care about the title, I just want to fight every weekend.’ Now it’s time. It’s what I want. I’m going to go get it, I’m going to keep it, then I’m going to jump off on top.”
Cerrone said if he beats Ferguson then he will be heading overseas as a potential replacement fighter when lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on recently-crowned interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 on Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi. In the meantime, he has arguably his toughest test in front of him in Ferguson but says his opponent’s questionable jaw may be the key to victory.
“This is a No. 1 contender, so this is undoubtedly the way (to the belt),” Cerrone said. “I think I can go in there and finish him. I really do. He’s got a kind of questionable jaw, and he’s just real looney and crazy. If you can beat crazy with crazy, let’s go.”