Coming off of a disheartening loss to UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in December, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone returned at UFC Fight Night 83 on Sunday in Pittsburgh looking to take Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira’s head off.
Cerrone had an eight-fight winning streak derailed by dos Anjos, and wanted nothing more then to get back on the horse. Taking a fight at welterweight was the quickest way to do that.
Oliveira stepped in on short notice when Tim Means was pulled from the fight for a possible UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The other Cowboy was on a three-fight winning streak heading into Sunday’s showdown.
The fight started off on the wrong foot for Cerrone, as Oliveira quickly clinched and started to land knees and punches to the body. The fight moved over to the fence where Oliveira kept the pressure on for the next minute or so, continuing to get the better of Cerrone in the clinch.
Cerrone eventually slipped away and they began trying to gauge the fight at striking distance. Oliveira used his three-and-a-half-inch reach advantage well, landing a punch combination that snapped Cerrone’s head back, but when Oliveira loaded up again, Cerrone timed it and scored a double-leg takedown, landing in half guard.
Cerrone quickly transitioned to full mount, slipped his legs into a triangle position from the top and then rolled to his back, the triangle choke remaining intact. Oliveira began tapping a short time later, but Cerrone had to point it out to referee Mario Yamasaki before he noticed and called a halt to the fight at 2:33 of the first round.
Even though Cerrone faced some adversity in the opening moments of the fight, he was fighting back and working to find his opening. As a notoriously slow starter, that’s something that hasn’t always worked well for him in the past.
“Today’s about the best I’ve felt because, for once, I wasn’t worried. This one was for me,” he said after the fight, before thanking Oliveira for taking the fight on short notice.
“My hat is off to the dude. He took the fight against me on short notice. We need more guys like that in the UFC.”
The victory moved Cerrone’s professional record to 29-7 with 1 no contest, but perhaps more importantly, it got his feet wet at welterweight. And while he may go back down to fight at 155 pounds, Cerrone, who likes to remain active, sees this as opening up an entire division of new opponents for him to face.
“I get to do 50 and 70 now, so everybody, if you wanna get hurt, I know a guy.”