It’s been an unusually long layoff for Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone leading into his title fight matchup against Rafael dos Anjos in Orlando. But his inactivity since May hasn’t dulled the raucous UFC lightweight from making a very bold prediction going into this weekend.
"I’m going to knock the [expletive] out of him," Cerrone told FOX Sports this past weekend in Las Vegas. "I predict that!"
Between the start of 2013 and May 2015, when he last appeared in the Octagon, Cerrone fought a total of 11 times with four months as his longest layoff between appearances.
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It will be almost exactly seven months since "Cowboy" last stepped foot in the Octagon when he faces dos Anjos on Saturday night in his first UFC title fight, but the outspoken lightweight doesn’t believe the extra time off will affect him in the least.
The "Cowboy" way didn’t slow down while he was on the sidelines — it just meant he had to find new and exhilarating methods to get the adrenaline rush he usually receives from punching another fighter in the face.
"It’s still there. I feel good. I took off and did a bunch of crazy [expletive] so I’m still there," Cerrone said. "I’m doing fine and ready for this fight. I can’t [expletive] wait."
"I’m going to knock the f*** out of him. I predict that!"
— Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone
One thing Cerrone guarantees if all goes well this weekend and he wins the UFC lightweight title is that he will look to defend far more often than the average champion competes inside the Octagon.
Most champions fight two to three times per year at most, but a "Cowboy" coronation as lightweight king could see a much different schedule if he has anything to say about it.
"Oh no, it’s the same. [Expletive] no let’s go, let’s run, run, run," Cerrone said with a smile.
In the buildup to this fight, Cerrone has been much more concerned with the present than anything to do with the past, but he can’t ignore his previous fight with dos Anjos from 2013.
It’s not something he dwells upon, but Cerrone would be remiss if he didn’t address the issues he had with dos Anjos the first time as they get ready to meet in a five-round main event this Saturday night.
The first fight saw dos Anjos hammer Cerrone with a big punch early that sent him crashing to the mat. And while the statistics for the fight ended up being fairly even, it was clear that the Brazilian did more damage and controlled more of the action over three rounds.
"He hit me hard. I remember that," Cerrone recounted. "First round he clubbed me good. I’ve got to use a little more head movement. Try not to get swapped as hard as I did then.
"He’s a good fighter, I’m not taking anything away from the dude. I’m excited, this is going to be fun."
With a win this weekend, Cerrone would enjoy his first UFC championship but it also puts him in line for potentially the biggest fight of his career.
Last weekend, Conor McGregor took out Jose Aldo to become the new UFC featherweight champion but minutes after the win he set his sights on potentially becoming the first ever two-weight class champion in the promotion.
McGregor has talked about fighting for the lightweight belt since arriving in the UFC and Cerrone would love nothing more than to welcome him to the division with a title shot in 2016.
If all goes well against dos Anjos, Cerrone might just get his wish.
"I would love that fight," Cerrone said about facing McGregor. "Love, love, love it, yes sir."