Donald Cerrone: “Don’t Know, Don’t Care”

Fightland Blog

By Jack Walsh

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Many fighters live by their own codes or rituals—the why’s and how’s they prepare themselves for combat, the practices that define them. It can be anything, from religion to a wrestling room community. For Donald Cerrone, it’s living and fighting by his own terms.

Unabashed and unapologetic, Cerrone (24-6, 1 NC) is riding a wave of positivity into his next fight, a short notice three round affair with Bobby Green at UFC 177.

“I’m going to give him hell. Fuck, I feel really great about it, man. Bobby Green, thanks for stepping up and taking that fight, really looking forward to being in that co-main event spot. I still wish I was the co-main for Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier. That would have been one hell of a fight,” Cerrone said of the bout as we started the interview.

On a four fight win streak, Cerrone’s original dance partner Khabib Nurmagomedov blew his knee out 30 minutes after signing his name to fight. Cerrone though, is optimistic that he will get a chance to face the Dagestani in the future.

“Yeah I prefer to stay ready more than anything. I can start a training campsix weeks gives me more than enough time. The Khabib fight would have been a fight that would have been great for the fans, but people get hurt, it’s something that happens. I'm not really disappointed, I’m sure it’s something that will happen down the road.”

Cerrone will fight five times in twelve months, his initial goal for 2014. His last fight, a starching of Jim Miller, helped him stay in the mental place Cerrone feels he’s in right now.

“Yeah man, the Jim Miller fight went great. It's exactly how I wanted it to go down. I was able to execute some new stuff I’ve been working on. I’m happy. That’s what I am. Happy. Climbing the ladder.”

For "Cowboy", it was never his performance or how he won that delighted him. It’s the sheer knowledge of victory, and winning in his own way.

“It was good to follow it perfectly," he explains. "Winning is always the big key in fights man. It doesn’t matter what you looked like or how you did it, getting that win is all I’m in there for.”

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Cerrone began to laugh almost bashfully when I asked about his preparation for Greene, and what he thought of him as a fighter.

“I’ve never even seen Bobby Green fight, so I have no idea. I caught the very end of the third round against him and Josh Thomson. Other than that, I’ve never seen the dude fight. Don’t know, don’t care. I do know he’s got one big mouth though. I can tell you that much.”

This style of preparation, focusing only on yourself and throwing caution to the wind, seems noble. Cerrone claims to have removed compromises from his vocabulary, something he learned from Georges St-Pierre’s mental coach, Brian Kane.

“Learn how to control what I can control and fight the fight that’s mine. It’s more about my emotions and how I feel walking out to the cage and how I feel in the week leading up to it. Trying to control myself.”

We all envy those that are free. We gravitate toward those who decide to live life by their own terms. It’s why fighters like Nick Diaz are so loved by their fans. They stay out of the grain, and are insulted by what they see as the traditional model for training.

But living your own way at all costs can lead to danger. Asking Cerrone why he feels the need to prepare for combat this way, it’s a simple matter of not wanting to react to his opponents, but rather, making them react to him.

“Why? Why not? I’ll go out there and fight anybody, it doesn’t matter to me. I know very little about all my opponents. I don’t follow the sport closely. I really don’t know much about any of them. I don’t even know why. My ‘give a shit’ meter’s broken. (Laughs) I don’t care.”

Despite his recent return to a carefree lifestyle, the one thing that hasnt ever changed is how Cerrone acts inside the cage. His composure has earned him 15 UFC post fight bonuses, and three shots at the WEC lightweight title. I asked him if he changes his style for different opponents, to which Cerrone replied, “No, not at all, my styles always been the same. I do well with it, people love to see you throw down so, no, I’ll never change it now.”

The last time I spoke to Cerrone, it was just over a year ago. Then, he was preparing for Rafael Dos Anjos, and our talk was punctured with strategy. Cerrone now admits he may have made a mistake with his preparation, and since making his lifestyle switch, he’s undefeated.

“The main message is going back to having fun, really going back to what got me here. Playing out on the lake, drinking beer and doing whatever the hell I want... instead of trying to settle down and take training very seriously. That’s what I tried to do and it really didn’t work out, so now I’m back to raising hell and having fun”.

Going outside of the cage to "raise hell", Cerrone has returned to his other great lovewakeboarding. He tells me it's his dream to one day attempt a professional career in the sport.

“I’m actually going to be wakeboarding in less than an hour, after I finish talking to you. We're on our way to the lake right now. Maybe I'll even [go pro] while I’m still fightingit doesn't matter to me.”



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