Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone: Living fast is the only speed he knows

A year ago, Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone gave up his nightlife, extreme sports and junk food in favor of a regimented diet and strict training routine. Then a funny thing happened -- he started losing.

You can take Cowboy out of the rodeo, but you can't take the rodeo out of the Cowboy 

Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images North America

It was just over a year ago when Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone had was he thought was a life changing experience and maybe a sign that he should stop being a daredevil and concentrate on fighting instead.

Perennially ranked in the top 10 of the lightweight division, Cerrone got there through hard training, but was routinely criticized for his fast life outside the cage.  Hard drinking, fast women and extreme sports defined Cerrone when he wasn't competing in the UFC, but a chance accident while rock climbing was supposed to change all of that.

Cerrone tumbled a near 40-foot drop when a rope slipped, and the result was almost catastrophic for his own life, let alone his career as an MMA fighter.  So that was it -- Cerrone promised UFC president Dana White that his crazy days of taking risks was over, and he was focused 100-percent on being the best fighter possible.

So the New Mexico based lightweight started eating right, dieting, training numerous times a day and gave up his nightlife.  He even dabbled with the idea of dropping down to featherweight after his body started to adjust to the new eating routine where he cut out fast food, junk food and generally anything he was ingesting before turning over this new leaf.

But then a funny thing happened on his way to the Octagon -- Cerrone went flat in his performances.  He shuffled through a lackluster showing against KJ Noons before getting beat up by Rafael Dos Anjos just a few months later. The results were so drastic, Cerrone was contemplating retirement until he started to examine what was so different in his life from the time where he was winning fights and closing in on a title shot.

He stopped drinking, partying, going out late into the night, and he gave up his extreme sports.  It didn't take Cerrone long to realize that as detrimental as these activities might be to some fighters, these were the things that made him happy.  Being happy doing what you're doing might be the biggest key to a fighter's success, and during those times where Cerrone was walking a straight line, not doing the things he loved, he was miserable.

"That's exactly who I am. I wouldn't change it for the world to be honest with you," Cerrone told FOX Sports.  "I made it this far eating fruit roll-ups and having soda pop and having fun.  I feel like I tried changing that to do like everyone says I should, and I just feel better being me."

I get to do what I love. I get to go on a road trip with my boys across the country, RV America, and then kick ass at the end of it. Come on

— Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone 

It was last Friday afternoon when Cerrone was doing a series of interviews ahead of his bout at FOX UFC Saturday in Orlando against Edson Barboza.  Instead of staying hunkered down in the gym like he was sitting in a bomb shelter ready to go to war, Cerrone was out on the lake with his boat doing the things he loves to do.

"I am backing a boat into a storage unit right now because we just got off the lake from wake boarding," Cerrone said. 

It's a rare thing in this world when somebody is not only satisfied with their job, but actually enjoy doing it on a daily basis.  A Gallup pole conducted in 2013 released by the Washington Post revealed that only 13-percent of people worldwide actually enjoyed going into work with their current occupation.  In America, the number jumps up to 29-percent, but still that's a whole lot of unhappy people working jobs they don't seem to like very much.

Tweaking what he does outside of work started to mess with Cerrone's happiness because when it comes to fighting he absolutely fell into that 13-percent who love what they do.  So as his fight approaches, Cerrone is training as hard as ever and then he's keeping the party going as soon as he steps out of the gym.

"For me fighting is just so fun, I love it.  It's just what I enjoy doing and for me to go out there and go wake boarding and go rock climbing and then turn around and go fight, how awesome is that?" Cerrone said.  "We're putting this boat away and then I'm going to go to the gym and train real quick, and then we're going to jump in the bus and we'll probably make it to Dallas, Texas tonight.  Somewhere around Mobile, Alabama on Sunday and then around Orlando sometime on Monday.  I'm excited.  I will go do alligator tours and whatever pleases my mind on the way down there."

Cross country trips in a bus to get to his fights is a slice of heaven for Cerrone, and the minute his fight with Barboza is done, the journey starts all over again.

"I'm with my best friends, my coaches are my best friends.  We're just living life, road tripping it.  The night after the fight, I'm going to fight, I'm going to drink some nice cold Budweiser at the press conference and then we're jumping in the bus and we're driving to the Florida Keys. We'll be down there around midnight or 1 o'clock the night of the fight and we're going to do some fishing," Cerrone revealed.

"It's the opportunity of a lifetime. I get to do what I love. I get to go on a road trip with my boys across the country, RV America, and then kick ass at the end of it.  Come on."

This kind of routine might not work for some fighters, but it suits Cerrone just fine.  Following his fishing expedition in the Florida Keys, he will go to Georgia to do some turkey hunting, then off to Talladega for a NASCAR race before eventually landing in Baltimore for UFC 172.  A lot of top competitors in the UFC might call Cerrone crazy for leading this kind of lifestyle. 

For many of them the idea of staying out all night, traveling and never slowing down would be a recipe for disaster.  Fortunately, none of them are Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone.

"I'm in a very happy place.  My mind is where it needs to be, my soul is where it needs to be, this is me," Cerrone said.  "Me trying to change that just isn't me.  A happy Cowboy fighting is a dangerous son of a b-tch"

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