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Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone was going to retire at UFC 276, win or lose

Nothing was going to stop Cerrone from laying his cowboy hat and gloves in the center of the Octagon at the end of his UFC 276 fight with Jim Miller.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone retired from mixed martial arts (MMA) at UFC 276 last night (Sat., July 2, 2022) in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a second round submission loss to Jim Miller (watch the finish here). While that decision may have seemed like one borne out of the frustration of dropping his sixth official loss in a row, Cerrone revealed afterward that he came to “Sin City” with the intent to retire.

“It’s crazy, this sport is always the highest highs and the lowest lows,” Cerrone told Laura Sanko after the fight. “And this is supposed to be my lowest low, but I feel the highest high. What a cool place to bow out. I had Joe in the ring and I had Bruce in the ring. It just felt right. The standing ovation I got was cool, and it just ... it was time. I should have done it a little while ago, but I kept trying to fight the fight and ... it’s time.”

“I knew 100 percent. Win or lose, this was it. So, I knew. It was supposed to happen months ago. Joe [Lauzon] 1, Joe 2. But nah, I feel good. I’m happy and like you said, not many get to make the decision. So even when I went in there, Sean [Shelby] came up to me and said ‘You’re not serious, right?’ I said ‘Sean, I can’t have you guys sending me an e-mail saying Cowboy, you’re no longer employed by us.’ I’m making it on my own ... So hey, enough’s enough.”

“Win or lose tonight, I was riding off,” he reiterated at the UFC 276 post-fight press conference (watch it here). “I don’t love it any more like I used to. And last night I couldn’t sleep, I was up til 6 in the morning just laying there. And just ... not gonna miss those feelings, I’ll tell you that. But, it was good to go in there.

“I surprised the hell out of my team, they had no idea it was coming,” he continued. “My wife didn’t know. No one knew. It was a good secret I had. Talk about emotional, but yeah. But, I feel good, like the biggest sigh of relief I’ve ever felt in my life. Like oh! We’re done. Now it’s off to the next chapter.”

Asked when the love started to leave, Cerrone said it dated back to his fight with Conor McGregor in Jan. 2020.

“Before I fought McGregor, I knew it was close,” he said. “And I did the McGregor fight, and I took another fight. And I’m just going through the motions. Didn’t enjoy it, didn’t love it. I knew the time was soon and I just had to pick the right time. I took a lot of time off, and then called my agent and said ‘Get me a fight,’ and I knew that this was going to be the last one.”

“And I’ll be back, you know, to hang out. Watch fights. Talk to the young generation and tell them all the stuff they shoulda woulda coulda done, and I don’t know, maybe I’ll get an itch in two years but anytime soon? Hell to the no. I’m going off to make some movies, race racecars that I race next weekend.

“Go get in a racecar and go play,” he continued. “Go to the lake house with my wife, I bought my wife a lake house and I don’t think it’s anything nice with the single wide trailer, we don’t got money like that, but it’s nice to us and we’ll be spending a lot of time at the lake and hanging out with family.

“I love Vegas and I’ll be here all the time,” he added. “I told the guys at the UFC PI, don’t take my fingerprint off the thing, goddamn, I wanna come in here whenever I want. So I’ll still be coming to a lot of fights. I still love the sport, I just don’t love training for the sport any more.”

“I’m gonna drink beer up at the front row and have a belly so big I can’t see my own dick, that’s what I’m looking for. Take a look at this body because it’s the last time it’s ever looking this way. After that I’m turning the corner and never looking back.”

Cerrone leaves the sport with a 36-17 record and more “Fight of the Night” bonuses and “Performance of the Night” bonuses than almost any other fighter in the history of UFC.

For complete UFC 276 results and coverage click here.

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