Donald Cerrone has been fighting for a real long time.
It’s hard enough to be a mixed martial arts (MMA) professional for 15 years. It’s even harder to fight as frequently as Cerrone did for most of those years, largely against very tough competition. At a certain point, all that experience turns from positive to negative, and it’s seeming like we’re well past that mark.
Still, it is really a testament to Cerrone’s skill and work ethic that he was able to outrun Father Time’s ceaseless approach for so long. He should’ve run into this wall several years ago and fallen off much harder. Instead, he was ranked as a Top 5 Lightweight just a couple years back. Getting knocked out by Alex Morono (watch highlights), however, confirms that Cerrone is likely running out of UFC opponents who will not hurt him, and retirement is likely the best bet.
A tough loss does not mean we cannot appreciate “Cowboy” before he’s sent to the farm upstate (which hopefully is not a Bellator analogy). Part of Cerrone’s longevity came from his ability to dominate. If an opponent was unworthy of being in the ring with “Cowboy,” he found out quickly. Cerrone would kick his foe to pieces in minutes, either finishing his foe outright or spending the rest of the content picking apart an opponent unable or unwilling to commit weight to his punches.
Cerrone won a lot of fights without getting hit much. Unfortunately, he also was too tough for his own good in several losses, resulting in severe beatings that didn’t exactly extend his career.
"I'll never go out like this."— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) May 9, 2021
Cowboy Cerrone isn't ready to hang it up just yet. pic.twitter.com/yhbD8UAMvZ
The second aspect of Cerrone’s long-term success was the result of sheer hard work. Very often, veteran fighters start to (respectfully) get lazy. Endless miles of road work just gets old at a certain point. Another hill sprint? Pass. It’s easy to trust in the decades of martial arts experience, rather than the physical work that comes with fight preparation. As much as any physical decline, that’s why many long-time fighters start to lose their conditioning in hard fights. Similarly, live wrestling practice gets more and more difficult as knee and back injuries pile up.
Credit to “Cowboy,” he’s never shown up to work in anything less than impeccable shape. At Lightweight or Welterweight, Cerrone was ready to fight hard for the full 15 or 25 minutes each and every time.
That’s an accomplishment in its own right.
Unfortunately, Cerrone’s skill and work ethic could only keep him ahead for so long. Now that the damage is piling on, it’s only likely to get worse, regardless of any technical improvement or extra push in fight camp.
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