Photo via Yahoo! Sports
Those who make their living as mixed martial artists (MMA) are placed in a very unique situation. They are wholly different from the rest of us who are forced to settle our differences and find compromise in a somewhat civilized manner.
If we have a problem with someone else at our workplace, a strongly worded email might be sent or in the most extreme of circumstances, a meeting with a supervisor or another higher up might be in order. The cubicle – unlike the Octagon – has its own sets of rules when dealing with conflict resolution.
But for Donald Cerrone, emails and meetings weren’t needed. They simply didn’t apply. Jabs, body kicks, and guillotine chokes would settle the beef he had with former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) 155-pound champion Jamie Varner.
"Cowboy" steps inside the Octagon in a couple of weeks (Oct. 29) at UFC 137: "St. Pierre vs. Condit" in what will be his sixth – yes, SIXTH – fight in 13 months. While many fighters puff out their chest and make the "anyone, anywhere" claim, Cerrone might be the only one to back it up. Since making the jump from the WEC, the Greg Jackson-trained lightweight has become the quintessential company man.
It just so happens that in this particular company, Cerrone is allowed to punch, kick, and submit anyone he doesn’t get along with.
On October 29, he puts a five-fight win streak on the line against Dennis Siver, a streak that started with Varner at WEC 51. It was on that night that "Cowboy" got his revenge after nearly two years of trash talking between the former champion and challenger.
A closer look, shall we?
Cerrone has quickly gained the reputation as the 155-pounder to call when the UFC needs someone to step up and fight at a moment’s notice after another fighter bows out due to injury. In fact, Siver was expecting to face off against Sam Stout until an injury forced the Canadian off the card.
The former WEC star’s willingness to fight seems like a natural extension of his "good ol’ boy" persona. He just likes to scrap; he likes to mix it up inside the cage. And when that attitude is combined with world-class training like the kind Greg Jackson provides, you’ve got yourself one hell of a fighter.
As for Varner, Cerrone was able to get that loss back in convincing fashion in front of a decidedly pro-"Cowboy" crowd in Broomfield, CO. An hour and a half drive from his hometown of Colorado Springs, the audience was ready to see one of their favorite sons exact a measure of revenge against Varner.
In their first fight, an errant knee forced a premature decision in the fifth round. But even if Cerrone had won the final round, he still would have lost the decision. So why the outrage? It was Varner's unwillingness to continue after the illegal strike that drew the ire of fans. It seemed like more of the same from a fighter who -- after previously spitting his mouthpiece out during a bout with Rob McCullough -- already had a reputation for taking shortcuts.
When the time finally came at WEC 51, it seemed "Cowboy" couldn't wait to get his hands on his opponent. Storming out from his corner, Cerrone was eager to mix it up and landed a brutal knee that dazed the former champion. Varner staggered back with the Greg Jackson-product in hot pursuit.
Cerrone threw a flying knee and Varner's mouthpiece once again found its way onto the mat. The air was thick with so much booing that one that could have blamed the audience's anger for the thinner than usual air in Broomfield.
For almost the entirety of the opening round, Cerrone was the aggressor. He stalked his opponent, landing leg kicks almost at will while putting together crisp combinations. A monster of a left hook found its home directly on Varner's skull and dropped the former champ to the mat, much to the delight of the crowd.
The round was feverish, both fighters more than willing to engage punch for punch. While caution wasn't thrown entirely to the wind -- these are professionally trained fighters after all --the two seemed to throw with as much reckless abandon as their ingrained technique would afford them.
The next 10 minutes were an absolute clinic of mixed martial arts as it's intended to be. Cerrone mixed his striking – combinations that cut up Varner’s face and leg kicks that left him limping – with takedowns and always kept his opponent guessing.
When the fight ended, Varner looked to possibly bury the hatchet with his rival and made his way towards Cerrone. He was met with a forearm to the chest as "Cowboy" shoved him off. It seemed Cerrone isn’t all too willing to forgive and forget, even after a 15-minute shellacking.
It was a dominating win for "Cowboy" – 30-27 across all three judges’ scorecards – and one that assuredly felt better than almost any other win prior. Coming off his second loss to Henderson and his third missed opportunity overall at the WEC 155-pound title, Cerrone needed a win to stay relevant in a weight division that was on the brink of being culled by the UFC.
That fact that it came against Varner was just icing on the cake.
Cerrone fought once more for the company, at its final event which was fitting as the promotion and the fighter grew and evolved alongside one another for three years. He made his UFC debut less than two months later – replacing Stout coincidentally enough – and choked out Paul Kelly, bouncing the Briton from the promotion.
When many pundits claimed the best lightweights from the WEC were nothing more than middle of the pack UFC fighters, Cerrone has been doing his best to prove them wrong.
It’s just what he does. He fights.