Nate Diaz On Tap, Donald Cerrone Eyes Title in 2012

December 1, 2011

What a difference a year makes. Having garnered a reputation as a slow-starter in most of his fights, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone has turned the corner from playing second fiddle to Benson Henderson in the WEC to gunning for the most prestigious lightweight title in mixed martial arts… the UFC belt.

“If you asked me a year ago where I’d be right now, I’d say I don’t know,” Cerrone told on Wednesday night following his winning the World MMA Awards’ Breakthrough Fighter of the Year. “The mental game wasn’t there. But you ask me now where I’m gonna be next year, I’m gonna be champion of the world. I know it. I feel it.”

Those are definitely lofty expectations, especially when the UFC lightweight belt is currently wrapped around the waist of Frankie Edgar, widely considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. But confidence is no longer lacking in Cerrone’s arsenal. He believes he’s worked the kinks out of his mental game, winning his six most recent fights, the last two being first-round finishes.

Cerrone is now entrenched in the Top 10, ranked No. 9, and is slotted in as the co-main event in his next fight. He’ll square off with Nate Diaz at UFC 141 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas.

A self-proclaimed fan of Nate and brother Nick, Cerrone admires the Stockton brothers’ willingness to throw down at the drop of a hat. But Cowboy has the hat and he’s willing to drop it on a dime if it means it’s time to fight.

“You don’t have to be from Stockton to have that. I got it too. So let’s go bitch.”

Watch Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s full one-on-one interview with Ryan McKinnell for below…