UFC announced that former WEC and UFC lightweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s ‘Modern Wing’ as a member of the Class of 2023. The 2023 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Toyo Tires®, will take place on Thursday, July 6, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The event will be streamed live an exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS.
“Cowboy Cerrone is one of the best lightweights in UFC history,” UFC President Dana White said. “Cowboy consistently fought the best of the best for over a decade inside the Octagon and set a ton of records in the process. He was also a complete savage who would fight anyone at any time. He is a true legend, and it will be an honor to induct him into the UFC Hall of Fame as part of International Fight Week.”
Cerrone will enter the UFC Hall of Fame as a member of the Modern Wing, joining others in this distinguished category, including Forrest Griffin (2013), BJ Penn (2015), Urijah Faber (2017), Ronda Rousey (2018), Michael Bisping (2019), Rashad Evans (2019), Georges St-Pierre (2020), Khabib Nurmagomedov (2022), Daniel Cormier (2022) and Jose Aldo (2023). The “Modern Era” category includes athletes who turned pro on or after November 17, 2000 (when the first UFC event under the unified rules of MMA was held), are a minimum age of 35, or who have been retired for one year or more.
A veteran of 55 fights during his 16-year professional MMA career, Cowboy compiled a record of 36-17 (2 NC), securing victories over UFC veterans Jim Miller and Edson Barboza, former WEC lightweight champions Rob McCullough and Jamie Varner, former UFC lightweight champions Charles Oliveiraand Eddie Alvarez, and former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
Cerrone made his professional MMA debut on February 11, 2006, as part of Ring of Fire 21, submitting his opponent, former UFC lightweight Nate Mohr, via triangle choke in the first round. Cowboy would win his next six fights across three MMA promotions, before joining World Extreme Cagefighting as an undefeated lightweight with a 7-0 record.
Donald made his WEC debut on September 5, 2007, on the prelims of WEC® 30: McCULLOUGH vs. CRUNKILTON, which took place at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Cowboy’s 56-second submission victory (triangle choke) over Kenneth Alexander would be overturned and recategorized as a no contest, but he would secure victories in his next two fights over Danny Castillo and Rob McCullough to earn a shot to win the WEC lightweight title against Jamie Varner in the main event of WEC 38.
WEC® 38: VARNER vs. CERRONE took place on January 25, 2009, at the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, Calif., and served as Cowboy’s first headlining event as a professional mixed martial artist. Jamie and Donald put on an amazing fight that would go the distance, with Varner winning via split decision.
Although that was his first loss under the WEC banner, Cowboy would bounce back by winning four of his next six bouts, including his rematch with Varner, before the organization was absorbed by Zuffa.
Over the next five years, Cerrone would win 19 of his next 23 fights, becoming one of the most consistently active and beloved contenders in the UFC lightweight division. He would continue to fight the biggest names in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions during the final six years of his career. He retired in July 2022 after a loss to Jim Miller at UFC 276.
Cerrone enters the UFC Hall of Fame with an impressive resume that includes:
UFC / WEC:
- Most finishes in UFC / WEC history combined – 20
- Most wins in UFC / WEC history combined – 29
- Most KO / TKO by kick in UFC history – 7
- Most knockdowns in UFC history – 20
- Tied for second-most finishes in UFC history – 16
- Tied for second-most wins in UFC history – 23
- Third most fights in UFC history – 38
UFC lightweight division:
- Second-most wins in UFC lightweight history – 17
- Tied for second-most knockdowns in UFC lightweight history – 11
- Tied for fourth-most finishes in UFC lightweight history – 10
- Fifth-most significant strikes landed in UFC lightweight history – 1,127
Outside the Octagon, Cerrone has been honored with several awards during his career, including being recognized by the Fighters Only World MMA Awards as the Breakthrough Fighter of the Year in 2011, and receiving Fight of the Year honors by Sports Illustrated and Sherdog.com for his 2009 fight against Benson Henderson for the interim WEC lightweight title.
A native of Denver, Colo., Cowboy began his martial arts career by training in kickboxing and Muay Thai. Cerrone holds an undefeated 28-0-1 record as a professional Muay Thai artist and competed in professional boxing. He currently resides in Edgewood, New Mexico, with his wife, Lindsay, and three sons.