By Adam Martin
In late 2010, the UFC decided to merge the World Extreme Cagefighting promotion with the company, and so the fighters that previously competed in the smaller blue cage were transferred over to the black Octagon. One of those fighters was Donald Cerrone, who had been a top lightweight contender in WEC, though never a champion. Cerrone was 6-3 with 1 NC in the promotion, and although he had won four Fight of the Night awards, it never appeared that he would be anything more than an action fighter if he came over to the UFC.
Fast forward to 2016, and Cerrone is on the verge of breaking numerous UFC records, and when it's all said and done, he could go down as one of the greatest fighters in UFC history.
Since debuting at UFC 126 in February 2011, Cerrone has fought 22 times in the Octagon -- by far the most appearances in the UFC in that time period -- and has gone 18-4 in that stretch, with fights in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions. He has won 11 of his last 12 fights, and is quickly moving up the welterweight title ranks after failing to win the lightweight title.
Cerrone’s 22 career fights in the Octagon trails Frank Mir, who holds the all-time record with 27 career fights, but Mir is basically retired at this point, and most of the other fighters near the top of that list are essentially done, save for Bisping and Diego Sanchez, who is nearing the end himself. Considering Cerrone is only 33 and hasn't taken that much damage in his career, by the time it's all said and done, he could have nearly 40 fights inside the Octagon.
Anderson Silva in "Of the Night" bonuses, with 13 total, which is just two behind Nate Diaz, who has 15, and one behind Joe Lauzon, who has 14. If you include Cerrone's four "Fight of the Night" bonuses in WEC, then overall Cerrone has 17, which would be the record. But even still, he's close to tying Diaz, and if he stays more active than his former rival, then he may eventually take over the record, as Lauzon seems likely to start fading in his career and Silva is obviously nearing the end himself. And if you break down the "Of the Night" bonuses even more, Cerrone is tied with Conor McGregor for the most ever "Performance of the Night" bonuses with five total. It's pretty impressive stuff from the Colorado native.
The knock against Cerrone has always been that he chokes in big fights and he doesn't have what it takes to be a champion. I'm not exactly buying that, but even if Cerrone never wins a UFC title, he'll still go down as one of the all-time winningest fighters in UFC history. When it's all said and done, he'll go into the UFC Hall of Fame, and when his career is over, fans will be sad because they just don't make them like Cerrone anymore. Guys who will fight at any time, in any place, and in any weight class are few and far between, and Cerrone is the last of a dying breed. He’s an amazing fighter, and hopefully everyone appreciates his accomplishments.
(All stats from FightMatrix.com)
• Donald Cerrone vs. Rick Story Donald Cerrone def. Rick Story via TKO (strikes) at 2:02 of Round 2.
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UFC 202: Diaz vs. McGregor 2 took place on August 20, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.