Donald Cerrone, who meets streaking lightweight prospect Alexander Hernandez at UFC on ESPN+ 1 next month, still believes he’ll eventually meet Conor McGregor inside of the Octagon.
Despite Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White already shutting down the potential matchup and pushing for rematch between McGregor and Dustin Poirier, “Cowboy” remains adamant that his team, along with McGregor’s, is on board for a scrap.
“I think [McGregor’s] side is interested in it, I know I’m very interested, and for the UFC, that’s a money fight,” Cerrone told ESPN. “By no means am I overlooking Alex. I’m focused on getting through him, and Conor is potentially what’s next.
“I don’t see why he would turn the fight down. I’m interested to see how it all plays out. I’m pretty sure Conor and I will be meeting in the Octagon soon.”
While a matchup between Cerrone and McGregor has been rumored for quite some time, “Cowboy” must first get past Hernandez this January. It will be Cerrone’s first fight at lightweight since a title loss at UFC on FOX 17 to then champion Rafael dos Anjos and his first chance to re-enter the 155-pound mix in fashion.
“This first fight is about getting back into the rankings, but from that point on, we’re going to have to sit and choose opponents,” Cerrone said. “Because getting all the way to the front door, only to have the guys ahead of you say they want to wait, so you give an up-and-comer a shot at your position -- I’d just be turning myself into a gatekeeper, which is not what I want.
”It’s time to get that belt. It’s the last thing I need for my legacy. So I plan on doing that, and doing whatever it takes to get there.”
Hernandez, who has racked off two-straight victories to start his UFC career, is certainly not a household name. That makes him a dangerous opponent for Cerrone as “Cowboy” has little to gain with a win over the younger lightweight.
That said, another finish for Cerrone, who just broke the UFC record for most wins (21) and most finishes (15) with a submission of Mike Perry this past November, could easily land him in a huge contender’s bout at 155 pounds. Whether that comes against a superstar like McGregor is unknown at this time.