Can happier Cerrone get over the hump?

July, 14, 2014
7/14/14
11:02
AM ET
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com
Archive

Donald Cerrone’s latest toy is called a Flyboard.

It basically looks like a jetpack/wakeboard hybrid connected to the back-end of a jet ski via long hoses. It can power a rider high into the air or deep underwater. Cerrone summarizes it by saying, “You ride around like Iron Man.”

Cerrone (23-6) describes the board during a phone call from inside his RV. At the time of the interview, he’s not sure exactly where in the United States he is, but knows he’s en route to Atlantic City, where he fights Jim Miller on Wednesday.

Loading into an RV and driving to a fight has become tradition for Cerrone, who says this is probably about the sixth time he’s done it.

On this trip, the group made a stop at the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour in St. Louis, Mo. While there, Cerrone’s girlfriend fell in love with Clydesdales -- which means, in the near future, Cerrone thinks he will be forced into owning a Clydesdale.

“She wants a damn Clydesdale,” he said. “We were at the Budweiser thing and she saw them. I have no idea what you do with a Clydesdale. Budweiser said they would give us one. It’s going to cost so much money.”

Between talk of expensive horses and Flyboards, Cerrone states something he’s said numerous times over the course of his career: He doesn’t care about winning a UFC title. He’d take it, of course, but he says it’s not what he fights for.
"

I think my feelings for the belt have always been the same. ... Having it would be cool, but that is not my drive

"

-- Donald Cerrone, on why title belts aren't his reason for fighting


“Who wants to ask stupid questions about fighting, let’s talk about this other stuff,” Cerrone said, half-jokingly. “I think my feelings for the belt have always been the same. I don’t really give a s---. Having it would be cool, but that is not my drive.”

Cerrone has never won a significant title in mixed martial arts. He came up short in three WEC championship fights from 2009 to 2010. He’s 10-3 in the UFC since 2011, but has never reached a UFC title fight.

If it never happens for Cerrone, he’ll still have a heck of a career to look back on. He is, without question, one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport and one of its best finishers. He’s won performance bonuses in each of his last three fights.

At the same time, though -- boy, it would be a bit of a shame to never see Cerrone at least step into the cage with a UFC title on the line. "Cowboy," 31, has flirted with greatness for years, but struggled with slow starts and ill-timed flat performances.

Leonard Garcia, Cerrone’s teammate at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA, has spent a career watching Cerrone’s maddening inconsistency from the sidelines.

“There is nobody at Jackson’s -- I’m talking Jon Jones or any one who has walked through there, like a Georges St-Pierre -- who is as talented as ‘Cowboy,’” Garcia said.

“There have been times where I have literally lost the farm betting on him. You see a guy at Jackson’s who doesn’t lose a round in anything go out and lose to a guy he shouldn’t lose to. It’s just crazy to me.”

The key, everyone thinks, for Cerrone has finally been identified and it actually has to do with Clydesdales and Flyboards. Somewhere along the way, Cerrone, his team and his sports psychologists decided a happy "Cowboy" is a dangerous "Cowboy."

In contrast to Cerrone’s claims about lifelong lukewarm feelings towards a title, Garcia says there was a time when it was "all he talked about," and that at one point in his career he even had a place in mind to store a championship belt once he won it.

"He was all about getting a belt earlier in his career," Garcia said.

Regardless of which man's account is more accurate, they both agree that at this stage of his career, Cerrone has learned to treat fighting the same way he treats the rest of his life, which is to enjoy it.

“As far as now in my career, my mind is in a much better place,” Cerrone said. “There was a time where I was like, ‘Am I as good as these other guys?’ I doubted myself so bad. I’ll tell you though, if Jim Miller came to Jackson’s to spar, it’d be on.

“That’s the mentality I have now. I just think about going out there, kicking a-- and having fun.”

Win this week and Cerrone will be on a four-fight win streak and possibly one victory away from a UFC title shot. Lose; and his window of ever earning that opportunity continues to close.

Either way, he’ll remain one of the most popular fighters in the UFC. But a "Cowboy" title shot would be fun. And Cerrone’s all about fun.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.