Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone on injuries, rest, and the secrets to staying ready

Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone reveals the strategies he uses to be able to fight as often as he does.

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Donald Cerrone has fought more frequently than any other top UFC contender, over the past two years – 10 times, overall. He’s fought twice already in 2015, and fought four times each in 2014, and 2013. 

There’s been much celebration and marvel at the lightweight’s iron man pace and constant readiness. After all, many of those fights were taken on short notice or, like his UFC 187 main card bout against John Makdessi this Saturday, against an opponent who was changed at the last minute. 

Cerrone could have decided not to fight anyone at UFC 187 when his original opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov pulled out with a knee injury, and "Cowboy" would have likely just fought for the world title, next. Instead, he asked for a replacement opponent, got the dangerous and surging Makdessi, and will fight on in Las Vegas, this weekend.

Much of the talk of Cerrone has seemed to presuppose that the fighter has managed to somehow stay healthy and injury free in order to fight so much. Other fighters and long-time observers will know the story has to be much different, however.

That is, there is no possible way that anyone fighting as often as Cerrone has managed to avoid injuries. Cerrone has absolutely had to fight through injuries that he has just not talked about, right?

"There are definitely always injuries," he admits to FOX Sports.

In order to fight on, despite injuries, Cerrone says that he has combined mental doggedness with smart training. "It’s definitely both of them," he goes on.

"There are times when I’m injured but my injuries are far from my heart. What’s in my heart is fighting. So, you fight through them. 

"But also, I rest my body when I need to. I train all year long and stay in shape all year long, so when I’m injured, I rest, and it doesn’t freak me out to take that rest. I don’t get worried about my weight or how sharp I am if I take a few days off to heal an injury."

Cerrone fights with extreme frequency but also takes what many other fighters would consider extreme time off to rest injuries, during training camps, if necessary. "It’s nothing for me to take seven or eight days, straight, off, where I do nothing. No sparring, no running, nothing, to rest an injury," he reveals.

"Because, I know the work I put in, I know the shape I keep myself in, and how hard I work. When I come back, I’m a little healed and I’ll get right back into things, the weight will come off and my timing comes back."

Cerrone says that all of the other sports he does during down time, even during training camps or during fight weeks, are a part of that rest he sometimes needs. But, just because you may see the former professional bull rider wakeboarding a few days before a fight doesn’t mean that he is taking an opponent lightly.

"That’s part of why I do the other things I do as well, even during training camps, like go out on the boat," he concludes.

"People think I’m not focused on a fight because I go out on the lake, or something. No, it’s just that I can’t train 24 hours a day. There might be an hour or two where I take to relax and have fun. Believe me, I’m focused on John Makdessi. That guy is coming to knock me out."