Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone can’t be sure he’s going to go out on top, but he definitely wants to finish his career on his own terms.
The former UFC title contender is currently suffering through the toughest run of his career with four straight losses and a draw in his most recent appearance against Niko Price in September. While the Price bout didn’t count as a defeat on his record, UFC President Dana White still said afterward that Cerrone was approaching the time when he needed to have a “conversation” with the veteran about his future in the sport, but White said he still hasn’t talked to Cerrone at the DWCS post-fight press conference Tuesday night.
Now two months removed from that fight, the 37-year-old veteran, who holds the record for the most wins in the history of the UFC, is ready to acknowledge the sand is running out of the hourglass on his career.
“This is the last run,” Cerrone said in a video posted to his YouTube channel. “This is it. I don’t have much left in me, timewise. If I’m going to really say this is my last run, really give it all. I’d rather go out when I want to. Go perform, enjoy it and then kick off the boots while I’m still flying through the air, call it a day. Not get cut, or everyone telling me I need to slow down or stop.
“I want to retire when I want to retire. I don’t care about what everyone else wants to say. Realistically, I’ve probably got a couple years left. That’s probably four or five fights left in me.”
Known as one of the most active fighters on the entire roster, Cerrone has discounted talk about retirement in the past as he typically hovered around the top-15 rankings at either lightweight or welterweight in recent years.
Suffering several tough losses in a row is a hard pill to swallow, but Cerrone is using that as motivation as he gears up for one final push ahead before calling it a career.
“Now I can see the end of the tunnel – it’s there,” Cerrone said. “We’re at the end of the tunnel. So now it’s at the point where we’re talking legacy and we’re talking what do I want to look back on. So no longer am I in the middle kind of doing it, now I’m at the end.
“Like all right now, I don’t want to end like this. I want to end kicking ass. I’m going to do everything in my power to end like that. Now if it doesn’t go like that, it doesn’t go like that, but at least I can tell the kids, ‘Man, that’s all I had kids.’ But I don’t think that’s going to be the case.”
Over the past nine-plus years that he’s spent with the UFC, Cerrone has faced the best of the best while headlining numerous cards and serving as a fan favorite no matter who he’s facing.
Through all the wins and losses, Cerrone doesn’t seem too obsessed with revisiting regrets from his past, though there is one fight in particular that still haunts him to this day.
“The Conor McGregor fight, 100 percent,” Cerrone said when referencing his 40-second TKO loss to the former two-division UFC champion. “Talk about not wanting to be there. That was me fight day. I didn’t want to be nowhere [near that]. Slow starter, no starter, didn’t want to be there. That was me. It sucked. On the biggest stage, still to this day that’s the biggest pay-per-view sold fight ever, right? Everyday I look at that poster like it sucks. That’s good. I need that motivation.
“Talk about the biggest letdown ever. That was it. Biggest moment to shine. That kills me all the time. Like quitting. Didn’t even want to be there. That burns.”
In order to guarantee he never feels that way again, Cerrone is drowning himself in preparation and putting aside the non-fight activities that have defined his career for so many years.
With time starting to run out until he’s forced to put fighting behind him. Cerrone wants to leave no doubts in his mind that he gave everything possible to close out his career on a high note.
“I’m looking to fight next year. Here we are in November training. I want to get up to the point where I’m at 175 [pounds], I’m in shape and I’m kicking ass,” Cerrone explained. “Now let’s take a fight. Now I have eight weeks, 12 weeks, whatever it is to just dial it in. That’s my plan.
“I got two years left. Let’s go. Let’s make these the last, the best. If it’s going to be my last ride, I want to ride the biggest and baddest and jump off while she’s still kicking and go.”
After bouncing back and forth between divisions over the past few years, Cerrone says his final fights will all come at lightweight. There’s no date determined for his next fight, but he promises to leave everything in the cage no matter the opponent presented to him.
“If I’m going to do it and make a run, I’m going to give it my all,” Cerrone said. “I don’t want to half-ass it.”