In the main event at UFC Fight Night 45, Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone picked up what was probably the biggest win of his UFC career. In the second round, he knocked out No. 7-ranked lightweight Jim Miller with an incredible head kick. The win was Cerrone’s fourth victory in a row and his third for 2014.
Cerrone has been on an incredible tear since his loss to Rafael dos Anjos. Despite his past mental issues in the cage, Cerrone looks like he is becoming more comfortable inside the Octagon–if such a thing is even possible. However, what Cerrone is still missing is that one, crucial, signature title-eliminator victory that will cement his top contender status.
Cerrone has been at the very cusp of this level before. This goes back to his days in the WEC. Cerrone fell short of attaining the WEC Lightweight Championship in his fight against Jamie Varner in 2009. Later in the year, he lost a tough close decision to Benson Henderson in their bout for the WEC interim lightweight title. Later in 2010, Cerrone would go on to lose their rematch. Henderson defeated Cerrone by submission at WEC 48.
In 2011, Cerrone debuted in the UFC on a hot streak. He fought five times that year, winning all but one of his fights. The loss was his most crucial defeat against Nate Diaz at UFC 141. After the fight, Diaz went on to submit Miller and then competed against Henderson for the lightweight title. Had Cerrone won, it would have possibly put him in line for contender status, especially with five wins in one calendar year.
As usual, Cerrone rebounded off the loss well and he went on to defeat Jeremy Stephens and Melvin Guillard. Next, he was matched up against former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, the last man to beat then-reigning UFC lightweight champion Henderson. Pettis pulled off an emphatic win, knocking out Cerrone. Cerrone talked a big game before the fight, but he had virtually nothing to offer against Pettis.
It seemed to be a recurring theme for Cerrone. After getting a nice streak going, he came crashing down. Cerrone himself has admitted to using sports psychologists to help with his mental game in the cage. While Cerrone looks fantastic now, it will be interesting to see how he performs if he is matched up against someone like Khabib Nurmagomedov next. If Cerrone were to win that battle, one could hardly deny his contender status for the UFC lightweight belt. However, Cerrone has been in this position before and continuously comes up short. It is time to see if Cowboy has learned from those past experiences.