If he beats Brazilian prospect Charles Oliveira this weekend in their UFC on Versus main card fight in Milwaukee, it would mark five wins in 16 months. That’s not just a nice run. That’s the makings of a potential title run.
“No. Hell no,” Cerrone said. “I’m so far away from a title run. That doesn’t even matter to me. I’ll keep fighting in the middle. I’ll stay at the bottom. I don’t care.”
At 28, Cerrone (15-3) has taken on a mindset seen more often in fighters reaching the twilights of their career. He doesn’t seem all that interested in belts or even winning streaks. He just wants good fights.
“Go in there and fight like you got nothing to lose,” said Cerrone, on what his career is about. “That’s what people want to see.”
He shakes his head when the topic of his last performance comes up -- a unanimous decision win over Vagner Rocha at UFC 131. To many, it was a solid fight for “Cowboy,” who landed so many leg kicks Rocha basically quit by the end of the fight.
For plenty of UFC fighters, a standup fight and a mark in the win column would be more than enough to call it a good day. Cerrone, though, said it was “terrible.”
“The last fight, all I did was kick,” he said. “I didn’t punch. I wanted to, but I couldn’t do it. I had him backing up and I just didn’t do it. You can’t just kick someone. It’s not just a kicking game.”
It’s that attitude that has him asking the UFC for a fight against Cole Miller, who fights T.J. O’Brien on Sunday’s card. As far as rankings go, Miller wouldn’t do much to raise Cerrone’s status in the division. He’s 2-2 in his last four fights and is coming off a loss to Matt Wiman.
What Miller does bring, though, is a long-standing rivalry with Cerrone dating back to 2008. And clearly, that means more to him right now than rankings.
“He better not get his a-- kicked (Sunday),” Cerrone said. “And I’ve told him many times I can fight harder p----- off than he can scared so he better buckle up.”
It isn’t surprising Cerrone prefers fights like one against Miller to the kind that would move him more towards a title. A self-proclaimed “slow starter,” Cerrone’s three professional losses have all come with a title on the line.
His best performance, on the other hand, came in a highly emotional fight against another rival in Jamie Varner last September. Majority of observers would agree, that’s the best version we’ve ever seen of him.
Cerrone knows that and says he’s consciously working to be that fighter, mentally, in all his fights. He perfects that, and he might find himself on a title run whether he planned to or not.
“I try to get my mind in the same mindset I had for Varner,” Cerrone said. “When I fought Varner, it didn’t matter what he did. He wasn’t going to beat me. I was coming out and I was going to win. I get myself in that mindset, no one can touch me.”