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Donald Cerrone Ends his Hall of Fame Career

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On the stacked preliminary card of UFC 276, which aired on ABC and ESPN, one fight that stood out immensely was the fan-favorite Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone going up against another long-standing UFC icon Jim Miller for the most wins in UFC history. Cerrone was looking to bounce back from a seven-fight winless streak that dates back to June of 2019. However, the results were not in Cowboy’s favor as Jim Miller submitted him in the second round with an opportunistic guillotine choke, becoming only the second man to submit Cerrone.

After the official decision was declared, Cerrone announced his retirement and left his gloves and signature cowboy hat in the middle of the octagon. Donald Cerrone was a pivotal member of the UFC roster who created a legacy that will be very difficult to replicate and will surely inspire many inside and outside the octagon.

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Donald Cerrone Retires

Start in the WEC

Before coming over to the UFC, Cerrone had only 7 fights (7-0) in his MMA career before his first WEC debut. He is known for having some underrated classics such as his first title fight for the WEC belt against Jaime Varner, the wild five-round contest against Benson Henderson, and the epic three-round war with Rob McCullough. In between all these masterpieces, he would display a unique combination of very good Muay Thai striking and the ability to find quick submissions once the fight hits the mat. Cerone was one of the big reasons why the world started to pay attention to the lighter divisions at a time when MMA was so preoccupied with the heavier weight classes. 

Path of a Cowboy 

Once the UFC and the WEC merged in 2010, Cowboy made his UFC debut against Paul Kelly on February 5, 2011, at UFC 126 replacing Sam Stout with very short notice and a win via submission. His willingness to take short-notice fights would become his signature that many UFC fans associate with the fan-favorite.

Cowboy was always willing to fight anybody anywhere, three or five rounds, ranked or unranked opponents. These opportunities created big moments for his career. One of the definitive times of his career was when he welcomed Bellator Lightweight Champion and all-time great lightweight Eddie Alvarez to the UFC back in 2014. Cerrone would be victorious, hurting Alvarez with knees to the body and leg kicks after weathering the first-round storm from the Bellator champion. After a victory over the very talented Myles Jury in January 2015, he would replace an injured Eddie Alvarez to fight familiar foe Benson Henderson only two weeks after the contest with Jury. 

After losing to Rafael Dos Anjos in a lightweight title fight in December of 2015, Cowboy would fight unranked Alex Oliveira in his welterweight debut in the main event in February of 2016. Cerrone would make quick work of the Brazilian by submitting him in the 1st round. Welterweight would become a familiar weight class for Cowboy as his next 15 of 19 fights would be contested in this weight class. He was fighting notable names like former champion Robbie Lawler, Jorge Masvidal, Matt Brown, Patrick Cote, and more. This move up in weight would give Cowboy a very notable 2016 as he fought four times in one year. Not only was he very active, but his performances were also spectacular with all of them ending in a submission or TKO victory. This changing of weight classes would begin the trend of fighters looking for the weight class that they fight the best at as opposed to cutting to the lowest weight possible to gain a size advantage. 

Legacy

This unique approach would give Cowboy the accolades of having the most wins and most finishes in UFC history, something that very few fighters can say they have.  Many take inspiration from how Cowboy didn’t worry about gameplans and matchups but more about how he carried on with his career. Not many will be like him as we get to an era where PPV points, title pictures, and politics outside of the octagon become stronger so we should celebrate the legacy Donald Cerrone brought into the octagon.

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