Donald Cerrone’s creed has long been to fight anyone, any time, anywhere. It’s a philosophy he lives to the fullest, which often means giving young up-and-comers the chance to test themselves against his big name, as Cerrone did for Darren Till last year. A true old-school fighter, he’ll risk his rank once again this weekend when he meets welterweight prospect Leon Edwards at UFC Singapore. This time around, though, “Cowboy” is less than thrilled with what he’s seen from his 26-year-old foe.
“He’s a real arrogant, cocky motherf*cker, to be honest with you,” Cerrone said of Edwards to MMA Fighting. “So, I don’t know, we’ll see, but I’m not too impressed with him at all.”
Cerrone said he didn’t know much about Edwards when he first got the call for UFC Singapore, but he grew to dislike the Englishman several months ago when the two were tasked with doing a joint overseas media tour to promote their fight.
“We were out doing a media tour, he was just really vocal and angry the whole time, just wanted to be mad and had nothing but just rude-ass comments to say,” Cerrone explained. “I was like, damn, man, I’m a f*cking veteran in this sport. You’re talking about you’re just going to steamroll me, and I’m old, you’re new. And it’s like, damn, okay, sure. I told him, ‘You’re gonna have to go home and tell your momma an old, slow dude beat your ass.’ That’s alright though.
“He’s not that bold, he’s not talking sh*t to my face like that,” Cerrone added. “I’ll beat the f*ck outta anybody. I’ll f*cking kick the sh*t outta you, let’s not get that confused.”
This sort of thing is routine for Cerrone these days. The 35-year-old perennial title contender is a grizzled veteran of the game, having basically seen and done it all throughout his UFC career, to the point where a victory at UFC Singapore will give him sole ownership of the all-time record for the most wins in Octagon history (21).
During his seven-year UFC run, Cerrone has seen plenty of young prospects try to talk a big game, and even fended off his fair share of them. So although he understands what Edwards is trying to do, “Cowboy” still isn’t a fan.
“[He’s trying to] convince himself,” Cerrone said. “He’s saying that I’m trying to become his friend because that way I feel like the beating is just going to be less. I was like, oh my God, you’re so weird.
“I tried to explain to him, I said, ‘Look, man. The Colby Covington approach, you look like a f*cking asshole. You look like a complete f*cking dick. Why would you want that? Why would you want people to think that you’re a dick? Be a good guy. Why would you want to be the angry fighter?’ Like, sure, fighting is what we do in our sport, but, dude, we’re also cool people.
“Conor (McGregor) is a whole different demon, that son of a b*tch went in there and did it and backed it all up. That’s a whole different animal of its own. But Colby [and others are] trying to emulate it and I don’t know what the hell’s going on.”
Buoyed by a five-fight win streak and a 7-1 record over his last eight Octagon appearances, Edwards is the latest foot solider in the new generation of welterweight contender that is seemingly taking over the 170-pound division.
The Birmingham resident’s rise up the UFC ranks was a quiet one, but his voice grew louder in the aftermath of his third-round stoppage of Peter Sobotta at UFC London, when Edwards called out Till for a matchup between Englishmen. Edwards ultimately didn’t land the Till fight, but he still scored a big-time name like Cerrone, so his decision to be more vocal appears to have paid off.
And that’s just fine for “Cowboy.” It’s no sweat off his back if his opponent wants to make things personal. He’s merely pointing out what he sees — that a trend is developing among the new crop of fighter, and he hopes it’s not the direction the sport continues to head down.
“I wouldn’t say it starts to piss me off,” Cerrone said. “It’s just like, when we’re not here for the fight week, he was just pissed off, and I tried to tell him, like, ‘Look, man.’ I tried to be the old f*cking guy and tell him, ‘Hey man, there’s a new way to do this. Like, why can’t you shake my hand? Why can’t we go have a beer? Why can’t we be cordial and hang out?’ Like, why do you want to be in Singapore two-and-a-half months before our fight, on vacation, one of the best places to [visit], and be angry? Why do you want to be mad all week? Walk around and see me and be pissed off?
“It’s so pointless and stupid. Why can’t you just shake my hand? ‘Because you’re just trying to be my friend so the beating’s easier.’ I just was like, ‘What are you talking about, bro? Do you want me to just hate you? I don’t even know you, but now I hate you because we’re fighting?’ I said, ‘You’re f*cking nuts, bro.’
“If I could teach anything to these younger kids — like, why? Basketball teams don’t just hate each other. Yeah, sure, there’s rivalries. They don’t just hate each other. They don’t spit on each other when they walk by and try, ‘I see in you in the hallway, I’m going to try to fight you.’ You know what I mean? Like, man, let’s be cool and hang out. It doesn’t make the fight any harder or not. So we’ll see, man. Maybe these new guys can try to change this sport and make it more of a sport that people can get behind. You want your fans and the people at home to connect and be like, ‘You know what? That Leon, he’s a cool dude. I see where he’s coming from. I can jive with him. Maybe I’ll follow him.’ Not, ‘Oh, that’s guy cool, he’s just a dick everyday. He’s just a piece of sh*t.’ F*cking whatever.”
Words of advice from a fan-favorite.
It’s a levelheaded approach from Cerrone, who’s competing at UFC Singapore with his girlfriend expecting to give birth to his first child at a moment’s notice back home. But impending fatherhood hasn’t changed the wildman much. “Cowboy” is still “Cowboy” after all, wakeboarding during fight week, plotting a motorcycle tour around Singapore.
Once this weekend is done, the always-busy Cerrone will have two fights already in the books for 2018. He’s shooting to get at least two more before year’s end, if not three. He’s already eyeing a few dates on the calendar that look to his liking.
But first, he has to take care of business against Edwards. And after ending his own slump with a sensational knockout of Yancy Medeiros this past February, he’s more than happy to teach another lower-ranked foe what it means to swim with the sharks at 170 pounds.
“He’s probably going to come really hard, really fast and try to put me away because everyone knows I’m a slow starter,” Cerrone said.
“All this media and five rounds is a lot for him, so taking him into the later rounds — I really don’t see this fight going much longer than the second or third round. But he’s sure going to try, and I’m gonna be the old, slow dog putting him away.”