Known for being one of the most durable fighters in the UFC, it can sometimes be a blessing and a burden for Donald Cerrone. Regarding the latter, the motivation needs to be there for “Cowboy” to do what he does best. That wasn’t the case when he fought Conor McGregor back in January.
At UFC 246, Cerrone (36-14, 1NC) fought in his seventh fight since June 2018 against McGregor (22-4), who last fought in 2018. Billed a “can’t miss” fight, the bout ended in 40 seconds after McGregor hit a head kick and a barrage of punches in the corner. Before that, he landed a number of shoulder shots to Cerrone’s face, busting him open right away. The crowd inside the T-Mobile Arena were blown away as “The King” returned in grand fashion, getting his first win since 2016.
In an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, “Cowboy” opened up about the loss. He stated the persona he is known for wasn’t even there for the fight.
“No, I didn’t (feel good before the fight). Donald showed up, Cowboy wasn’t there,” Cerrone stated. “The wrong guy showed up. I couldn’t get going, couldn’t get excited, couldn’t get fired up. Didn’t want to be there. Biggest fight, all the attention, my time to shine, didn’t want to be there. It was crazy, man.
“Sometimes, I show up there and I’m f*cking ready, I’m fired up and I’m ready to go. Sometimes I get there and I’m like, ‘I don’t even want to be here.'”
"Donald showed up; Cowboy wasn't there… Biggest fight, all the attention, my time to shine, I didn't want to be there. It was crazy, man."
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 28, 2020
With this being a fight card watched by those around the world, many saw Cerrone’s performance and criticized him. One man in particular who did so was Stephen A. Smith, who said Cerrone wasn’t prepared for the moment. Cerrone went on to say he didn’t feel motivated two days before the fight.
When McGregor was entering the octagon, Cerrone also didn’t feel anything. Right when McGregor rushed, his hip bone landed onto Cerrone. The shoulder slams gave him no time to prepare, resulting in the quick finish. Others said the fight was rigged so McGregor would win the bout. Cerrone wanted to set the record straight.
“From the first second of the fight to when he ended it, I couldn’t even get my bearings back. A lot of people have come to me and said I threw the fight. You’ve got the wrong guy to think I’d sell my soul,” Cerrone went on to say. “There’s not enough money in the world I’d throw a fight. Are you kidding me? The infrastructure of the UFC would have to be so corrupt for them to pay me.”
Could fatigue have been a factor? In 2019 alone, Cerrone fought four times, all against dangerous opponents. One month after facing Al Iaquinta in a war, he lost to Tony Ferguson in a one-sided affair. Three months later, he got knocked out by Justin Gaethje. Cerrone the man put on a good poker face before the McGregor fight, but the fighter just wasn’t feeling it.
“I can’t put words on it. It’s like, being somewhere that you don’t want to be, man. It’s like, being in a spelling contest and you can’t spell, you got to stand up in front of the world and try and spell,” Cerrone said. “You know, it was just like a weird feeling, man. You’re trying to convince yourself, trying to wear the face, fake it until you make it. Sometimes, I don’t know, it’s tough. It’s a weird sport.”
Cerrone has a chance to redeem himself on May 9 as he faces off against Anthony Pettis. Taking place inside the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, the two will main event the UFC 249 prelims.