SPORTS

UFC lightweight Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone lives life to the fullest

01/03/2015 12:47 EST | Updated 03/05/2015 05:59 EST
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Snowmobiling, race car driving, flying, wakeboarding, rock climbing. There aren't many adventure itches that UFC lightweight Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone hasn't scratched.

Prior to UFC 182 alone, the "UFC Embedded" video series has shown the 31-year-old free spirit piloting a Ferrari around a race track, snowmobiling in Colorado and doing barrel rolls in a small plane.

"Do I love it? No," UFC president Dana White said of Cerrone's extensive extracurricular activities. "But what are you going to do with this kid?"

Cerrone, who takes on unbeaten Myles (Fury) Jury in the co-main event of UFC 182 on Saturday, is a thrill-seeker.

"I admire him. He's a very very talented guy," White said of Cerrone, who has getting his pilot's license on his bucket list. "There isn't a thing this guy can't do."

Cerrone (25-6 with one no contest) has no problems fighting. He is ranked fourth among 155-pound contenders and is riding a five-fight win streak.

Cerrone is also a crowd-pleaser, as witnessed by his record 15 fight bonuses in the UFC and now-defunct WEC. Three of those — worth a combined US$150,000 — came in 2014 against Adriano Martins, Edson Barboza and Jim Miller.

"I don't know if I'm at my peak, I can't answer that. But I feel like I'm on my way, that's for goddamn sure,"

said Cerrone.

His ultimate destination is a title fight. Current champion Anthony (Showtime) Pettis stopped Cerrone in the first round in January 2013 before he won the 155-pound crown.

In the past, White has tried to corral Cerrone's wild streak — mainly in a bid to keep his fighter in one piece. In 2013, for example, Cerrone survived a 12-metre rock-climbing fall.

And even when the sports are safer, White isn't too keen on having his fighter push himself to the limit.

"You can't wakeboard five days in a row in the summer in Las Vegas and then expect to perform Saturday night," said White. "You can't."

The deal nowadays is supposed to be that Cerrone cuts down on his extracurricular activities 10 days before a fight, but it seems a loose agreement.

"They used to (object)," Cerrone said of the UFC when asked what they think of his hobbies. "They don't it so much any more."

Wakeboarding is a particular favourite of the tattooed fighter with a penchant for Budweiser and cowboy hats.

Cerrone counts Canadian pro wakeboarders Chad Sharpe and Rusty Malinoski in his circle of friends. He speaks to them two or three times a week and wakeboards year-round, often heading to Orlando to play with the pros.

So how good is Cerrone on the water?

"I like to say I'm pretty damn good," he said.

Malinoski is expected to be in the stands for Saturday's fight. Cerrone's post-fight plans include snowboarding in Colorado, although he says he wants to return to the cage sooner than later.

His post-fight routine is to seek out White to learn the details of his next bout. Cerrone's appetite for action is insatiable, with four fights in 2014 alone.

"Everyone talks about staying healthy but I get just as hurt as everybody else," he said. "It's just I ask myself how far away is that injury from my heart? And it just pushes me through and lets me fight. Like right now, I'm injured and I'm still fighting. I don't care."

"As long as this is OK and this is OK," he said, pointing to his head and heart, "I'm good."

While a notoriously slow starter, Cerrone is a dangerous fighter with punishing leg kicks and excellent submission skills. And at six foot one, he is tall for a 155-pounder.

He also oozes confidence. At Wednesday's public workout, after enthusiastically hitting pads with his fists and legs on a makeshift mat on the MGM Grand casino floor, he stripped off his sodden T-shirt — which said "Cerrone" on the front and "Anyone, Anyplace, Anytime" on the back — signed it and then threw it into an adoring crowd before wading into a media scrum shirtless.

Originally from Colorado, where he still owns land, Cerrone lives up to his nickname.

He owns a 40-acre ranch about 65 kilometres outside of Albuquerque, N.M., where he trains at the renowned Jackson's MMA gym.

"Always a work in progress, always," he said of the ranch.

His busy fight schedule helps pay for any renovations, not to mention his fight camps.

Cerrone estimates he spent $20,000 just to bring fighters in to help him train for Jury.

"But you figure would you spend 20 to make 100? Because I would."

Cerrone landed in Albuquerque in 2007, coming down to help a friend, Leonard (Bad Boy) Garcia, get ready for his UFC 69 fight against Roger Huerta.

"I had no idea who Greg Jackson or what Albuquerque actually was. I just came down with him one day and never left," Cerrone said.

Cerrone has planted roots. He's already added his own gym at the ranch and is currently building a dorm building so he can bring in more fighters for training camps. Prior to the Jury fight, he had 10 people staying at the ranch to help him prepare.

He trains in the morning with Jackson and then continues his workouts at the ranch. Cerrone has live-in help to look after the horses, chickens and other animals, not to mention the ATVs, motorcycles and other toys.

"I love the lifestyle," Cerrone said of being a fighter. "It lets me to do all the crazy things I want to do."

"I can't give you an age or how much longer I'm going to go but I'm going to go until I can't any more," he added.

Cerrone is favoured to beat the eighth-ranked Jury (15-0), a talented young fighter climbing the ranks. Jury's 6-0 UFC run includes wins over veterans Takanori Gomi and Diego Sanchez, a Cerrone training partner.

"The kid's like a new breed, he's good everywhere," Cerrone said. "I'm great everywhere so I should be all right."

Cerrone, who travels to fights in an RV, wore his traditional cowboy hat and boots, jeans and a Budweiser T-Shirt for Friday's weigh-in.

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