Exclusive Interview: Cerrone talks about UFC 187, fighting Dos Anjos, Jon Jones, more
There are very few fighters who bring as much excitement and adrenaline to a fight like Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The no – nonsense lightweight has been on a hot streak, winning 7 of his previous fights.
Cerrone was scheduled to fight fellow lightweight competitor Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 187, in what would’ve been a title eliminator, with the winner facing the current champion Dos Anjos later this year.
However, with Khabib getting injured during training, John Makdessi has replaced Khabib on the UFC 187 card, and will take on Donald Cerrone. Although Cerrone, who many consider to be the number one contender for the UFC Lightweight title could’ve skipped the fight to face Dos Anjos for the title, he chose to fight the unranked fighter at the PPV.
But before the two strikers face-off, Sportskeeda’s Ratish Menon and I caught up with Cerrone for an interview exclusively for the Indian fans. Below is the complete transcript of our interview.
In your bout at UFC 187, you are paired up against fellow striking phenom Makdessi. Could you talk about your approach going into this fight?
Cowboy: Ah, man, no. I’m just going to fight him like anybody else. I’m not going to change my approach by any means. He’s a stand – up guy, and sh*t, let it rock – 50K $!
Recently, the Lightweight champ Dos Anjos stated that you were next in line for a shot at the gold, and wondered why you’d not wait it out to fight for the title instead of going ahead with Makdessi at UFC 187. Did you consider waiting to fight the champ next instead of going ahead with a new opponent at UFC 187?
Cowboy: Absolutely not. I mean, yes, like I said, UFC told me the options, and I was on the card. I told all of America and all of the world that I’ll be fighting, so god da*n it I’m going to show up and fight. I can’t be the guy that says, “I’ll fight anyone, anywhere… except for that one.” You know what I mean? So that’s the way I bleed.
Sure, few of my coaches and management team are furious with me. They are absolutely furious that I took the fight, and didn’t wait for the title shot, because that’s what everyone else wants. So I see the confusion in Dos Anjos, but I’ll see you soon brother, I’ll see you soon!
You have always been someone who fights your fight, no matter who the opponent is. So, does it really make a difference that Makdessi got into this fight as a replacement for Khabib given the opposite nature of their styles?
Cowboy: Absolutely not. You hit the nail right on the head. I’m going to fight my fight, don’t watch any tapes (of his opponents), don’t care. The only difference is I’m not going to be defending any crazy takedowns. I can open up and let my hands go a little more, so I’m excited. It should be fun.
Speaking of Khabib, the proposed battle between the two of you has been on the cards for well over a year now. It even got personal with him taking constant jabs at you in the media. How disappointed were you when you learned that he wouldn't be fighting you at UFC 187?
Cowboy: You know, I just got done working really hard, and Dana called me and I was like, “Man, if only you knew all the injuries I go through and the mental battle I go through”. It’s just like my third turn to fight the guy and I’m super disappointed. It was definitely the fight I wanted; everyone talks about (how) he’s the guy everyone fears, but I don’t fear him.
Khabib got a lot of flak after he pulled out of the fight, with many including Pettis commenting on his 'trash talk' catching up to him. What was your take on the whole ordeal, given that he admittedly had started getting under your skin?
Cowboy: It was cool to see Pettis step up, but the dude (Khabib) just everyday had a new something to talk sh*t and come at me, but I don’t realize his approach, who knows?
Moving on, the main event at UFC 187 is being contested for the vacant Light Heavyweight title, which was stripped off your longtime training partner Jon Jones. Could you give us an overview of the morale and feelings in the training camp and in the Jacksons gym following the happenings with Jon?
Cowboy: Yeah, Jon is a friend of mine and just (got himself) in kind of a bad spot. He needs to just take some time and step back; he’s been in the gym helping out Andrei (Arlovski) and helping all of us if we ever need anything, he’d say, “call us”, but, man, just like he says it best – everyone watches your every move when you’re the champ and when you’re a figure like that. So, he just wasn’t ready I guess, you know?
It’s tough; I have to make life decisions everyday when someone cuts me off, and I think, “Man, I should just pull over and beat that dude’s a**”, but then I think, “Well… can’t really do that”. So those are just decisions, I mean you have to think. I’m 32 now, so maybe if I was in my 20s, I would make a bunch of sh*tty decisions too. So, who knows? I don’t know.
Your friend Benson Henderson has adopted a similar approach as you off late and has been taking random fights in different weight classes. What do you think his chances are at welterweight? Is there a possibility of seeing Bendo versus Cowboy 4 anytime soon?
Cowboy: (Laughs) I’d fight Ben, I love Ben. The last fight with him and I was the hardest mental fight I’ve ever had in my life. Ben beat me twice, short notice, you know? Yeah, I’d fight Ben 10 out of 10 times, you know?
But, it’s cool, I like him at 170, I really do. I think the weight cut at 155 is hard for him, and at 170, he’s got big a** legs, and you saw what he did to Brandon Thatch. Brandon Thatch’s a killer, so I don’t know, I hope he stays at 170 (welterweight). I think he’s happier at 170, plus I think a title shot at 170 is closer for Ben, I think he needs to win 2 or 3 (fights). But at 155, it feels like 27 straight wins to get a title shot, so who knows?
Will we get to see you go wake boarding, plane riding etc during fight week, on the UFC's video blog series?
Cowboy: I don’t know if I can make a comment on that. I mean, Dana rides my a** pretty hard, so I don’t know if I’ll be going wake boarding. I kind of told him that I would sit down, but my boat is here. I will be on the water; I’ve been doing a lot of scuba diving this trip, so I actually got… I think I’ll get hammered at Mandalay Bay and swim with the sharks, so I think that’ll be cool. It’s either Sunday or Tuesday, I’m not really sure. But that will be on the blog, so check it out!
Lastly, do you have any message for your fans in India? Also, what do you think about possibly coming to India in the near future to give a seminar?
Cowboy: Wow, never been to India. Not saying I wouldn’t come, I mean, money speaks very clearly in my language (laughs), so I don’t see why that’ll be a problem. Fans in India, just know that Cowboy is coming every fight.
You can catch UFC 187 on the 24th of this month live on Sony SIX and KIX, as two titles are up for grabs, with Daniel Cormier facing Anthony Johnson for the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight title, while Chris Weidman puts his UFC Middleweight title on the line against the number one contender, Vitor Belfort.