Donald Cerrone is mad. For those that know him, it should come as no surprise. An offhand, half-joking comment from featherweight Nam Phan lit the wick this time. Cerrone exploded in due time, saying Phan disrespected Cerrone's best friend and training partner Leonard Garcia and the entire Team Jackson after their fight earlier this year. Cerrone claimed he would be seeking revenge.
Never mind that Cerrone is a rising lightweight star. Never mind that Phan is a middling featherweight. Those kind of logical and logistical issues don't enter Cerrone's mind - at least not when he's in fight mode. It's part of who he is, part of his "Cowboy" identity that is more than a gimmick. It's part and parcel of a lifestyle that defines a 28 year-old fighter who spends the hours he isn't in training camp living on the TapouT Ranch, riding horses, shooting guns, and living the dream.
"Like right now, me and Leonard are down in Texas buying a boat," Cerrone told Pro MMA Radio's Larry Pepe. "I'm ready for this fight. Everyone's like, 'Oh my God! Are you not worried about this fight?' I'm like, 'Yeah, but I'm not gonna dedicate my life to it. I'm not gonna quit gettin' p*%sy and quit drinkin' and all this other stuff. It's not the center of my life, you know what I mean? It's just something I do."
What he'll do tomorrow against rising European star Dennis Siver is bring the pain. It's what he always does. He's earned six Fight of the Night bonuses in the last three years, each one a badge of honor that indicates he and his opponent took years off each other's lives in a grueling battle.
That was the old Cerrone. The new Donald won a post fight award in his last bout too- knockout of the night. Making matters worse for Siver, the free swinging Coloradan has finally mastered range. Lean and lanky, Cerrone is using his reach to his advantage, strategically mixing kicks and jabs at distance with devastating knees and elbows in tight quarters. And while Siver mixes short hooks and looping punches with his own lethal kicks, Cerrone is characteristically unconcerend.
"I'm gonna go in there and impose my will and do what I do and not worry about what they do. You know, I'm fighting Siver," Cerrone told Pepe, seemingly forgetting his opponent's name for a moment. "...I don't care what he's gonna do. I don't give a s---. I know what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna get in there and whip his ass so I can get to Lake Havasu and play on my boat. That's what I'm gonna do."
There should be some room for concern, however, inside Team Cerrone. The last time I can remember Cerrone being so focused on a fighter who wasn't his opponent in the cage was prior to his fight with Benson Henderson at WEC 43. Cerrone spent much of the pre-fight media build to that fight talking about rival Jamie Varner instead.
"I just keep going and going trying to line that fight up," Cerrone told me in a 2009 interview for Heavy.com. "That's the one that gets me up in the morning. I know I've got my takedown defense where I want it to be now and I can knock that little bastard out...As a fighter, he's awesome. But as a person he's a punk bitch. That's really what it is. I've got nothing good to say about him."
Cerrone would eventually get his rematch with Varner, drumming his nemesis out of title contention with a Fight of the Night decision. But the obsession with Varner proved to be a distraction. He lost his fight with Henderson, perhaps taking the current UFC contender, then a relative unknown, too lightly.
History seems to be repeating itself with Siver. Cerrone has all the physical tools to be great- but fighting is about focus. If Cerrone is not lasered in on his current foe, it could be a short night for the "Cowboy." Either way, whether Cerrone becomes an instant contender or goes back to the ranch to drown his sorrows, this fight on SPIKE TV is the darkhorse contender to be the most explosive of the night. If you don't normally watch the preliminary bouts, go out of your way to see this one. It will be worth your time.