One of the UFC’s most entertaining fighters finally gets his first lightweight title shot this weekend at UFC on FOX 17. Donald Cerrone squares off against Rafael dos Anjos in what should be an exceptional rematch. “Cowboy” has carved out a fan-friendly reputation during his lengthy Octagon tenure. Cerrone has proven a bonus machine in racking up 10 Fight Night awards in his 18 UFC appearances. He’s always been a competitor, willing to face anyone at any time.
Cerrone is in the midst of the most successful run of his career. He enters this rematch against RDA on an eight-fight win streak. His last appearance was a second-round TKO of John Makdessi at UFC 187. The rugged Canadian called the fight off on his own accord after having his jaw broken by a head kick. Cerrone had originally been slated to face unbeaten contender Khabib Nurmagomedov but “The Eagle” was grounded by another unfortunate knee injury.
“Cowboy” has also defeated the likes of former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, former Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez, Myles Jury, Edson Barboza and Jim Miller during this impressive stretch. The Jackson-Wink MMA stalwart is noted for his Muay Thai striking, slick submissions and toughness. Cerrone has gone 15-3 during his UFC stint and has faced the division’s elite. His last setback was a unanimous decision loss to dos Anjos at Fight Night 27 in Indianapolis.
Both men have made gotten progressively better since their initial encounter and are in top form. Dos Anjos has been victorious in nine of his last 10 appearances including his dominant title-winning effort against Anthony Pettis at UFC 185. The King’s MMA product has taken his game to championship heights thanks to a much-improved striking game that’s a solid complement to his jiu-jitsu skills.
This rematch looms as a great way to end what’s been a strong year for the promotion. The dos Anjos-Cerrone title clash has a heightened sense of excitement with the talk that featherweight champion Conor McGregor is interested in facing the winner. As we gear up for the final UFC event of 2015, we examine Cerrone’s five most impressive Octagon performances.
5. Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard (UFC 150)
This UFC 150 matchup on Aug. 11, 2012 was billed as an explosive clash between two violent finishers and it more than lived up to the hype in Colorado. Cerrone was buzzed early by a Guillard left hook but would turn the tide in a spectacular first-round with a thudding head kick. “Cowboy” would dispose of a stunned Gullard by landing a picture-perfect right hand. Cerrone picked up the win and netted both Knockout and Fight of the Night bonuses. Those awards reflected a fast and furious 76 seconds worth of action.
4. Donald Cerrone vs. Eddie Alvarez (UFC 178)
The highly anticipated Sept. 27, 2014 matchup in Las Vegas between the Octagon mainstay and ex-Bellator champion produced an entertaining clash at UFC 178. Cerrone was rocked in the opening frame by an Alvarez right hand and several punches in the clinch. He’d take control of the contest by opening up with debilitating leg kicks and knees to the body over the final two rounds. “Cowboy” would nearly get the finish in the third as he would crumple Alvarez to the canvas because of the damage inflicted by his leg strikes. Cerrone would end the bout in top position raining down ground-and-pound strikes to cement the unanimous decision triumph.
3. Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller (UFC Fight Night 45)
This battle on July 16, 2014 between two ultra-tough veterans provided an explosive main event at Fight Night 45 in New Jersey. There would be some controversy in the second-round when a precise Cerrone body kick that badly hurt Miller was ruled a low shot. Cerrone would be undeterred by the ruling and would eventually finish off Miller with a devastating head kick. He became the first man to finish Miller via strikes and earned a Performance of the Night bonus for his efforts.
2. Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza (UFC on FOX 11)
Cerrone showed his resilience and quick-strike ability at UFC on FOX 11 on April 19, 2014 against the dangerous Brazilian. Barboza started strong in Orlando as he was finding the range with his powerful kicks and punches. However, Cerrone would respond to end the contest in blistering fashion. “Cowboy” would send Barboza to the canvas with a stiff left jab and would immediately pounce upon his opponent. Cerrone showed his adept submission skills by securing a rear-naked choke finish at the 3:15 mark. It netted him yet another Performance of the Night bonus check.
1. Donald Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins (UFC on FOX 10)
Cerrone has produced a number of highlight-reel finishes during his career, but none was more spectacular than his January 25, 2014 stoppage of Adriano Martins at UFC on FOX 10 in Chicago. “Cowboy” obliterated the Brazilian veteran at the 4:40 mark of the opening stanza with an absolutely devastating head-kick. It was a truly brutal knockout that produced yet another Fight Night bonus for the popular Cerrone.