July 2nd In the brutal and unforgiving world of MMA, records are like bones and hearts: they are made to be broken.
In an interview with the media this week, Edgewood’s Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone said he hopes to set records before he retires that will never be equaled or surpassed.
Undoubtedly, Cerrone had and still has a career of historic proportions in his chosen sport. He enters Saturday’s fight on the UFC card in Las Vegas, Nevada against grey-bearded fellow Jim Miller with a chance to break the tie with Miller and Andrei Arlovski for the most wins (23 so far) in the UFC.
In total UFC fights, he trails Miller by two and Arlovski by one with 37.
If Cerrone wins impressively, he could break a tie with Brazilian Charles Oliveira for the most bonuses per fight in the UFC (18).
If he punches or kicks Miller, he will add to his own knockdown record (20).
It’s all fair game. “My plan is to put records where people can’t even touch them,” Cerrone said.
But to do that, the 39-year-old Cerrone may have to talk the aforementioned Oliveira, the reigning UFC lightweight champion, into early retirement.
At 32 years and nine months old, Oliveira has 21 wins and 30 fights in the UFC. At the same age, Cerrone had 15 UFC wins and 19 fights. (One of those victories came against Oliveira, whom Cerrone defeated by TKO in the first round in 2011.)
Among players under 30 there is a 24-year-old Chinese bantamweight Yadun Son (nine UFC fights, eight wins). Cerrone was 30 when he fought his ninth fight in the UFC and took his eighth win.
But the closest thing to an unbeaten record, if it gets there, is Cerrone’s goal of 50 fights in an organization known as Zuffa, made up of the UFC and WEC, the Zuffa-owned organization for lightweight fighters that was absorbed into the UFC in 2011.
Cerrone claims Saturday’s fight will be his 49th for the organization; his fight list shows he has 47 – 37 in the UFC, 10 in the WEC – Miller.
In any case, this week Cerrone made it clear that he intends to reach 50 and may not stop there.
“If they call me on 51, I will say that everything is in order, I am there,” he said.
Or maybe not. Saturday’s loss will be Cerrone’s sixth in a row, and UFC president Dana White has expressed concerns about Cowboy’s health in the past.
In Cerrone’s favor is his “anytime, anywhere, against anyone” stance, which earned him five fights in one calendar year (2011) and four in six other years. In contrast, Albuquerque’s Diego Sanchez (32 UFC fights, 19 wins) outpaced Cerrone at Zuffa by three years but never fought more than three fights in a year.
Can anyone get to 50?
Miller is a UFC bout leader at 39, but he has never competed in the WEC. At 38 years old, 50 years seems like the most distant possibility.
For the 43-year-old Arlovsky, as enduring and popular as he is, 50 years seems out of reach.
Oliveira has never fought more than three times in a calendar year. At this rate, he would need to fight for another seven years to reach 50. He would have been 39 years old, like Cerrone is now.
Yadong, a young Chinese bantamweight, has also never fought more than three times in a year in the UFC. In this case, he will be at least 38 years old if and when he reaches 50.
Is there anyone we missed? Probably. Still, it seems fair to say that Cerrone has sculpted a steep hill that anyone can climb, though not quite comparable to Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 consecutive major league games.
As for Pete Rose’s record in Major League Baseball (4,256 hits), if you count both hit and hit, Cerrone might already be there.
Cerrone (36-16 overall) and Miller (34-16) weighed in at 170.5 pounds each for Saturday’s fight, half a pound short of the welterweight limit for non-title fights.
Miller is a moderate betting favorite despite losing to Cerrone via TKO in the second round when they fought eight years ago in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
UFC 276: Israel Azaña vs. Jared Connonier, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Jim Miller, 10 other fights, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada. Main map (Asaña-Connonier): 20:00, espn+ PPV (streaming) . Advance Card (Cerrone-Miller): 6:00 pm, ESPN/espn+