MMA Ratings Podcast

May 7, 2019

UFC Ottawa: Donald "Papa" Cerrone Looks Like A Lightweight Title Contender

By Adam Martin

It wasn't that long ago that Donald Cerrone was being written off as a washed-up fighter who should be considering retirement. 2017 wasn't kind to "Cowboy," as he lost all three fights he was a part of. He started off the year with a knockout loss to Jorge Masvidal, lost a decision to Robbie Lawler, then got knocked out by Darren Till. This was by far the worst year of his career.

2018 started off a bit better for Cerrone, as he knocked out Yancy Medeiros to snap his three-fight losing skid. But he rejoined the losers circle with a decision loss to Leon Edwards, and it looked like he was about to spiral back into his losing ways. Considering he was 35 and had lost four of his last five fights, you can be forgiven if you were someone who had written off Cerrone at that point.

But since then, Cerrone has done nothing but win. He ended 2018 on a high note, when he tapped out Mike Perry to win his first post-fight bonus since 2016. Then out of nowhere, Cerrone announced he was moving back down to lightweight. After the success he had as a welterweight, it was a bit surprising to see him move back down to 155, particularly in an era of the sport where it seems fighters are much more likely to move up a weight class. But so far, the proof has been in the pudding that this has been a great move for Cerrone.

Though he's 36 now, Cerrone looks better than ever. Since moving back down to lightweight, Cerrone has won back-to-back fights over younger opponents in Alexander Hernandez, who he finished to win a double bonus on the first ESPN+ card, and most recently Al Iaquinta, who he won a dominant decision over at UFC Ottawa. Cerrone is now riding a three-fight win streak, his first streak that long since 2016, and he looks like a legitimate title contender at 155 lbs, as the lopsided win over Iaquinta puts him in the Top 5 in the UFC lightweight division.

Cerrone credits the birth of his son, Danger, for why he's been fighting at such a high clip as of late. The newfound "Papa" Cerrone says that the motivation of putting food on the table for his child has taken his game to a whole new level, and considering the results, there must be something to it. Cerrone has looked absolutely outstanding since his son was born, and despite being one of the oldest fighters at 155 lbs, he's still one of the best in the world.

Cerrone says he wants to fight for a title next, something which has eluded him his entire career so far, but he also said he would love to fight Conor McGregor in what would be the biggest money fight available for him. Regardless of who Cerrone fights next, however, he'll get a top-five opponent once again. That said, it doesn't help that the lightweight division is backlogged right now with UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov still sitting on the sidelines with a suspension. However, if Cerrone keeps winning, the UFC won't be able to deny him.

It's amazing to see what Cerrone has done as of late. Despite moving down in weight later in his career, the UFC's all-time winningest fighter keeps on winning fights in impressive fashion and is arguably the most complete version of himself that he's ever been. The extra motivation of having a child has transformed Cerrone from a good fighter into an elite one, and with another win or two, he'll be deserving of the opportunity to prove he's the best lightweight in the world.

UFC on ESPN+ 9
Al Iaquinta vs. Donald Cerrone: Donald Cerrone defeats Al Iaquinta via unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-46).

UFC on ESPN+ 9: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy (formerly UFC on ESPN+ 8: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy) took place May 4, 2019 at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN+ 9 Post-Fight Analysis

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