Saturday 18th January 2020 marks Irish fighter Conor McGregor’s return to the Octagon for the first time in 14 months. He was last submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC Lightweight Championship, but he makes his comeback at welterweight level, taking on Donald Cerrone. The latest Conor McGregor v Donald Cerrone betting odds make ‘Cowboy’ very much the underdog, but who is McGregor’s opponent? Read on as we take a closer look at Cerrone’s career.

Early career

At the age of 20, Cerrone began training in kickboxing and then specialised in Muay Thai. His record was exemplary, winning 28 fights (18 by T/KO) and drawing one.  During this time, he was the one-time Dominion Warrior Muay Thai World Lightweight champion, the ISKA Amateur Colorado State Middleweight Oriental champion and the KDC Amateur Welterweight champion. It was by this point that Cerrone decided to embark on a career in mixed martial arts.

Life before UFC

The Cowboy may now be an established fighter in the UFC, but prior to this, he was signed to fight in the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC). His debut in September 2007 ended in disappointment as, despite originally beating opponent Kenneth Alexander with a triangle choke submission, the decision was overturned when Cerrone tested positive for a banned diuretic – thus, the fight was ruled a no contest.

However, the following year, Cerrone won both his WEC fights – the first, an armbar submission in the first round against Danny Castillo, and the second by unanimous decision over Rob McCullough in what was a WEC Lightweight eliminator. He then took on Jamie Varner for the WEC Lightweight Championship but suffered his first career defeat at WEC 38.

In fact, Cerrone has not fared too well in title fights. He participated in three for the WEC, including one interim title – and lost all three. Following defeat to Varner, he went on to lose to Benson Henderson twice, once by unanimous decision and the other through submission. He ended his WEC career with two wins, finally getting one over rival Varner at WEC 51 for yet another Fight of the Night accolade.

UFC career

In October 2010, the WEC merged with the UFC and Cerrone made his debut four months later. He still fought at lightweight level and featuring on the preliminary card, defeated Paul Kelly by rear-naked choke submission. Cowboy made the main card in his following fight at UFC 131, where he defeated Vagner Rocha by way of decision.

Cerrone later made the step-up to catchweight for his bout against Melvin Guillard, who missed the weight – before returning to the lightweight division.  He fought for his first UFC Championship in December 2015 and much like his WEC title form, he lost. Cowboy had previously been defeated by opponent Rafael dos Anjos at Fight Night and this time suffered a TKO.

His following encounter saw Cerrone make the step-up into welterweight and he won his debut against the Brazilian Alex Oliveira, who also goes by the nickname ‘Cowboy’. It was Cowboy vs Cowboy at Fight Night and the American Cowboy was victorious, also being awarded with the ‘Performance of the Night’. After a string of four losses in five matches, including a TKO to then-unbeaten Englishman Darren Till, Cerrone returned to the lightweight category.

The future

Going in to his fight against McGregor, Cerrone is on a two-match losing streak, with both defeats coming in the second half of last year – and both by technical knockout. While both of those losses came in the lightweight division and once again both men are making a step-up to welterweight, it’s not the greatest of form for a man so experienced and revered in the world of UFC. Cerrone’s overall MMA record stands at 36 wins from 50 matches, with 23 of those coming in the UFC – a championship record.  He’s certainly an active force and his upcoming encounter in the cage will be his sixth in 14 months.

But after that same amount of time away from the Octagon, McGregor will come into the fight hungry and motivated to succeed on his return. He may not be as experienced as Cerrone but boasts a more impressive record of 21 wins from 25 fights and is a two-division champion. We think the Notorious Dubliner will have too much for the veteran, but roll on January 18th.

About The Author

The MMA Corner Staff

Your home for all things MMA. News, Interviews, Event Coverage, Editorials. If it is MMA related, you will find it on The MMA Corner.