Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone wasn't even three hours into his road trip to a title fight at Saturday's UFC on FOX card in Orlando, Florida, when his notorious RV broke down on the side of the road.
You'd like to think most fighters, if their RV broke down on the way to the biggest fight of their life, would leave the thing behind and either take a car the rest of the way or book the soonest flight. That's a hard statement to make though, as most fighters wouldn't take an RV to the biggest fight of their life in the first place.
Riding "the bus" to an event is a longtime tradition for Cerrone though, and when the old girl broke down Sunday evening he didn't seem too upset by it. Cerrone and his crew shacked up at a local mechanic's shop in a small Alabama town and spent the next 24 hours fixing the RV themselves. On Tuesday morning, he proudly drove the RV into Orlando.
"My phone was going crazy that night," Cerrone told ESPN.com. "I had grease all over my hands trying to answer it, people telling me to just leave it where it was. This is what I do, man. I'm a hillbilly. I'm in my RV and this is my journey. I'm not dwelling on it. I just roll with the punches. It rents no space in my mind. It did cost me $6,000 though, so I guess it rented some space in my bank account."
Cerrone (28-6) fights Rafael dos Anjos for the UFC's 155-pound championship Saturday at Amway Center. He enters the title bout as one of the hottest fighters in the sport right now, riding an eight-fight win streak.
It's remarkable to think before this streak began, Cerrone contemplated retiring from MMA. In November 2013, Cerrone was coming off his second loss in three fights and was scheduled to face Evan Dunham at UFC 167 in Las Vegas.
Before the event, Cerrone stopped at his grandfather's grave and told the man who raised him that if he didn't beat Dunham, that would be his last fight. That fire to compete hadn't been present in recent camps. Maybe he was burnt out.
"I remember kickboxing and traveling the world when I was young," Cerrone said. "I would go to Japan or Africa and I would go for the experience. As soon as I got off the plane, we'd go have a good time, party. Fighting was just the outlet of what I was doing there. When I signed with the WEC [in 2007], that's when s--- changed. I started thinking, This is what I'm actually doing with my life now. I should take it more serious. I had coaches telling me to get serious.
"That Evan Dunham fight, I went back to not being serious. I was going to the lake and literally brought some wrestling mats down with me. We have a shop at the lake where we park the boat. I'd throw the mats in there, wakeboard all day and train all night. I was having a good time, getting back to work."
During that camp, Cerrone reunited with muay Thai coach Henry Smith, whom he worked with earlier in his MMA career. Since restarting his work with Smith and wrestling coach Jafari Vanier, Cerrone hasn't lost.
"That's when the name BMF Ranch [Cerrone's camp in Edgewood, New Mexico] really started," Cerrone said. "I got back to having a good time, playing. Doing what I love."
Dos Anjos, 31, believes that's where he holds an edge against Cerrone. The Brazilian subscribes to the the exact training regiment that didn't work out for Cerrone -- his focus never wavers.
In the buildup to the fight, Cerrone has questioned changes in dos Anjos' physique and mentioned he's happy this fight is taking place under the UFC's new anti-doping policy. When asked to clarify his stance this week, Cerrone said, "If you look at a picture of him before and then when he fought [Anthony] Pettis [in March] -- you're a grown a-- man. You let your own eyes do the judging."
Dos Anjos, who has never failed a drug test, feels Cerrone's comments suggest a lack of confidence.
"He's trying to make himself confident with these allegations," Dos Anjos said. "Maybe he's trying to get in my mind, but I've never seen him do this to anyone else. I'm in the gym training every day. I take my job serious. If you're not dedicated or training hard, you're always going to be in second place. That's why I have the belt. I've had four months of focus in training camp. I don't see anything going wrong on Saturday."
For Saturday's winner, a potential mega-fight against newly crowned featherweight champion Conor McGregor (19-2) looms. Last weekend, McGregor unified the 145-pound title and has expressed interest in moving up and challenging for the lightweight title.
That fight would represent either Cerrone or dos Anjos' biggest payday. "Cowboy" wants that fight, but says his focus right now is on the rematch.
"This is my response to Conor," Cerrone said. "I've got an a-- to whip on Saturday. After that, I'll talk all the Conor talk you guys want. I keep getting people tell me I'm sidetracked. I'm not. I'm coming to win that belt."