LOS ANGELES (AP) — Donald Cerrone already fights more often than anybody in recent UFC history, and the lightweight better known as “Cowboy” is outdoing himself in January.
Cerrone (26-6) has agreed to fight former lightweight champion Benson Henderson at the UFC’s show in Boston on Jan. 18, just two weekends after he trounced Myles Jury at UFC 182.
That’s two fights in 16 days, a span that would be unthinkable for most serious title contenders in mixed martial arts or boxing. His third career matchup with Henderson will be his sixth fight in less than 12 months.
Even Cerrone knows it’s crazy — and that’s part of the appeal to the beer-drinking, extreme-sports-loving, duck-hunting Cowboy.
“I wouldn’t take this fight on short notice if I wasn’t a complete … loon and if I didn’t think I could beat him,” Cerrone said. “I’m excited, and I’m confident.”
By agreeing to step in for the injured Eddie Alvarez, Cerrone has left himself little time for recovery or preparation — although he insists he barely broke a sweat while beating Jury, and he never watches film of his opponents or formulates a game plan. He barely has enough time to make the 33-hour drive in his RV from his home in New Mexico to Massachusetts.
Cerrone doesn’t care. He wants to fight constantly, craving the action and the hefty paychecks from constant activity.
“I guess I could sit back like every other fighter and sit and wait, but I’m not every other fighter,” Cerrone said. “I’m my own guy. Bring the fights on. If I’m going to be the champ, I’ve got to beat everybody anyway. What does sitting and waiting and holding my position do?”
He has won his last six fights overall, moving into lightweight title contention with a mid-career renaissance while establishing himself as a fan favorite with his work ethic and devil-may-care attitude to his profession.
But Cerrone isn’t the type to wait around for a title shot. He craves action and the paydays from keeping busy, and he tries not to leave his fights without agreeing to a deal for his next bout. Cerrone claims he still wants the belt, and a surprise win over Henderson with no preparation would be a remarkable case for a shot at champion Anthony Pettis.
“I don’t have a formula for the title shot,” Cerrone said. “But if I beat Ben, who’s left? I have no clue how this is going to work. No idea. Don’t care. I’ll get that belt. This is the year.”
Cerrone was both victorious and frustrated in Vegas after dominating the previously unbeaten Jury, even ending the fight by kicking Jury in the backside. Cerrone then apologized to his fans on Twitter after the bout, furious that Jury hadn’t engaged him in more of an entertaining bout.
Cerrone couldn’t track down UFC President Dana White on Sunday to secure his next fight after beating Jury, so he ate breakfast prepared by the UFC’s chef in their corporate offices and starting driving home.
White called him on the road Monday, and Cerrone jumped at the chance. Alvarez had dropped out of the penultimate fight on a card headlined by popular Irish fighter Conor McGregor’s bout with Dennis Siver, and the UFC needed a quick replacement.
“I was about halfway driving home when Dana calls me and says, ‘Hey man, I don’t really want you to take this fight, but I’ve got an opportunity for you,'” Cerrone said. “It’s a dangerous fight. Dana is like, ‘I think you should take some time off, but I’m not telling you to take time off. I’m just talking to you as a friend.’
“I was like, ‘All right, I’ll take the fight,'” Cerrone said.
Cerrone lost his first two fights with Henderson in the defunct WEC promotion. Their first meeting in October 2009 was one of the most entertaining bouts in recent years.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Cerrone said. “In my mind, I figured we were going to cross paths again. I thought it was going to be for the belt, but doing it on 10 days’ notice is even better. No time to think, no time to worry, just go out there and let reaction take over and fight.”