UFC Fight Night 158 marked the 33rd Octagon appearance for Donald Cerrone, and while it didn’t go the way he wanted, “Cowboy” seems to have designs on competing for years to come.
Cerrone fell to Justin Gaethje via technical knockout 4:18 into the opening round of Saturday’s headliner in Vancouver, giving the BMF Ranch founder his second consecutive defeat within the Las Vegas-based promotion. Cerrone isn’t one to sulk, and he already has his sights set on a significant milestone for UFC longevity.
“Fifty [fights] is the number I want, so I’ve got news for my coaches and corners: There’s going to be a lot more ups and downs and sideways-es,” Cerrone told media members following the event. “When you’re winning, everyone wants to know, ‘What are you doing so special that you win?’ And then when you lose, everyone’s like, ‘What didn’t you do?’ Nothing, man. I trained hard. I trained my ass off. It just didn’t work out.”
Gaethje caught Cerrone coming forward with a short right hook, and when the dazed veteran tried to stand, the former World Series of Fighting titlist sent him down to the canvas with a pair of uppercuts and another right hook in close quarters. Gaethje clinched his victory with a few more follow-up punches on a defenseless Cerrone before referee Jerin Valel intervened.
Gaethje was visibly angry that Valel allowed the fight to go as long as it did, and conversely, Cerrone protested the stoppage in the immediate aftermath. Given a little more time to reflect, Cerrone refused to blame the defeat on officiating.
“I’m not making any excuses,” Cerrone said. “The ref clearly thought I couldn’t continue. That’s the way this game is. Sometimes, you get the ref that lets you get pounded in. Sometimes, the one that won’t. I got the one that wouldn’t. So maybe it’s better for the longevity for me and my boy here. Maybe he didn’t beat me retarded, so that’s good.”
As he typically does, Cerrone is eyeing a quick turnaround and would like to return to action by December, though he acknowledges he will be facing some type of medical suspension due to his knockout loss.
“Tomorrow, I’m going to get on the airplane and call Dana [White] and say, ‘What’s next,'” Cerrone said. “And they’re gonna say, ‘You got knocked out, I think you have a medical suspension.’ [And I’ll say], ‘Yeah, but after that, what can we do?’
“I would love to fight next weekend, but I don’t know how long of a suspension I got. I don’t know what getting your ass knocked out in 30 seconds looks like on paper, but I think it’s pretty long.”
A recent three-fight winning streak that included lightweight triumphs over Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta had Cerrone in the thick of title discussions at 155 pounds. However, after being finished in back-to-back bouts by Gaethje and Tony Ferguson, “Cowboy” has some work to do to climb back into contention. The 36-year-old has never held a title in a major organization, but he hasn’t given up on the dream just yet. If he does indeed make it to 50 Octagon appearances, he’ll have plenty of time to earn another championship opportunity.
“I’m going to get the belt. It’s going to happen. I guess I just slid down the rung a little bit, but I’m going to come back, I’m going to train hard, and I’m going to get it. It’s the last thing I’ve got to do with my legacy,” he said.