It wasn’t that long ago that Donald Cerrone was a top-five fighter in the UFC welterweight division. It also wasn’t that long ago that “Cowboy” was fighting for the UFC lightweight title. But that seems like so long ago now. All of a sudden the long-time crowd favorite is on a three-fight losing streak, which he’ll look to snap out of at UFC Fight Night 126. Ceronne battles Yancy Medeiros in the five-round main event of Sunday’s card from Austin, Texas.
Despite having one of the best records ever in UFC history at 19-7, Cerrone currently finds himself in a strange place. At age 34, he is riding a three-fight losing streak for the first time in his Hall of Fame-caliber career. After racking up eight-straight wins, including a decision over future champ Eddie Alvarez, Cerrone earned a lightweight title shot against Rafael dos Anjos. But that didn’t go well for him as Cerrone was TKO’d via body shots. He would then move up to welterweight.
Cerrone’s durability issues in the lightweight division were attributed in part to a tough weight cut down to 155. At least for the first four fight’s of Cerrone’s run at 170, it was looking like he made a the right call in moving up a weight class. His first fight at 170 concluded in bonus fashion as Cerrone took home a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” award for his submission win over Alex Oliveira. In his next outings, he’d score additional $50K bonuses for knocking out Patrick Cote and Rick Story. He capped off the 4-fight winning by finishing Matt Brown with a head kick and shot up to the top of UFC’s welterweight division.
One of Cerrone’s calling cards his entire career has been his ability to stay healthy and fight often. But that desire to fight so frequently took a toll when he agreed to fight Jorge Masvidal on short notice just weeks after the war he had with Brown. Masvidal is a skilled technical boxer and he was able to land hard on Cerrone’s chin and drop him multiple times before knocking him out. The UFC did no favors by matching up Cerrone with former champ Robbie Lawler next. Cerrone went the distance with Lawler, but lost via decision.
Perhaps the most troubling loss came in Cerrone’s last fight when he was brutally knocked out by rising prospect Darren Till. It was the type of eye-opening setback that made you wonder where Cerrone stands at this point in his career and showed he might not be able to take punishment like he once was.
After taking time off to recover, Cerrone is now back and fights Medeiros at UFC Fight Night 126. Like Cerrone, Medeiros flamed out at lightweight but since moving to welterweight has gone 3-0 with three exciting finishes over the aforementioned Oliveira, Sean Spencer and Erick Silva. Medeiros is a very exciting fighter and has looked amazing at 170, just like Cerrone did when he first moved up to welterweight.
But he’s shown more durability than Cerrone, and while on paper “Cowboy” may be the more skilled and complete fighter, Medeiros’ toughness might be enough to get him a win in this fight considering Cerrone’s current state. On paper it’s a great fight, but one that Cerrone must win if he wants to stay relevant.
Cerrone is still an exciting fighter and he will always have a place in the UFC as long as he keeps putting on a show for the fans. He will have to make a sober assessment regarding his future. While he’s been known as one of the toughest fighters in the UFC for a long time and someone who is down to scrap where ever and when ever, he’s now in his mid-30s and has taken quite a bit of damage in his last few fights.
Donald Cerrone needs to go out there this weekend against Medeiros and prove to everyone he still has what it takes to win fights in the UFC. Judging by his last few performances, it’s fair to question just how much he has left in the tank.