Give Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone a windowless room, a six-pack, and a microphone, and you'll hear interesting things. In the 699th episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Cerrone held forth alongside the UFC commentator, slugging beers and riffing about life and leisure at his Bad MotherFucker Ranch in New Mexico, his bafflement that so many Irish people got mad at him for invoking Lucky Charms to insult Conor McGregor (“Me talking shit about a leprechaun is like you talking bad about Santa Claus”), and his time-honored opinion that there’s no need to cut out booze and other fun during training camp because "fighting is not that serious.”
“This [Rafael] dos Anjos fight coming up December 19 in Orlando, Florida—world title, biggest fight of my life,” Cerrone said. “Goddamn right I’m gonna drink beer and have a good time, and probably get there 10 days early and go wakeboarding.”
As Cerrone climbed into a cocoon filled with Budweiser, the conversation touched on a few of the fighters who handed him losses before his title-shot-clinching eight-fight winning streak—namely, Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis. You might recall Diaz dismantled Cerrone over three dominant rounds, while Pettis used violent gymnastics and a first-round liver kick knockout. Both fights had antagonism-filled preambles, with heated words exchanged and, at one point, Nate smacking Cerrone's iconic cowboy hat off of his head.
How things have changed. Of Nate Diaz and his brother Nick,
Cerrone told Rogan: "As much shit as [Nate] talked, I like those guys. I really do, because there's no front on 'em at all. What you see is what you [get]. If I were to run into the Diaz brothers out in the street, we are fuckin' throwin' down and there's no question. That's who they are…I'd have a drink with them now. I don’t have any animosity or anger or hate toward either one of them. I'd definitely hang out with both of 'em."
Of Pettis: "Anthony said, ‘Cowboy, if you need me to come down and train you for dos Anjos, I hate that motherfucker. I’ll be there.’ I said, ‘Pettis, I might just hit you up on that.’”
Dos Anjos, of course, completes the trio of fighters that Cerrone has lost to in the UFC. "I totally underestimated dos Anjos and that fucking will not happen again," he said. As it happens, dos Anjos is a common thread: he smothered both Pettis and Diaz in the back-to-back engagements that brought him from the title's doorstep to the title itself.
Regarding a potential alliance between Cerrone and erstwhile champion Pettis, it's easy to conjure Rocky III, with Apollo Creed coaching Rocky Balboa in service of beating Clubber Lang, aligning efforts to dethrone a common enemy. As for Cerrone's lenient view of Nate—a view that Nate hasn't always reciprocated—it's a case of proximity. The intensity that the Diaz brothers bring, while authentic, is a predictable aspect of fighting them that generally dissipates after the final bell. Just like it's easy to curse the heat from the sun in July, it's easy to stop when there's a chill in the air.
Cerrone's words beaming from Rogan's studio are also reminders of how, with enough time, fight narratives collapse into a shapeless heap of moments that we can arrange with whatever structure and meaning we like. The past and present slam into each other like leg kicks into, um, legs. Your old enemies are new friends, or at least peers that you don't hate. They might even help get you ready to face the future.
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