DGS Main Event MMA’s Most Improved Fighter of the Year: Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone
When you think of a fighter who truly finds pure happiness and fulfillment in life any way he knows how, the only name you can think of is UFC Welterweight Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.
After going on a tear through the UFC’s lightweight division from 2013 to 2015, Cerrone closed out the year with a title shot against former UFC Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC on FOX: Dos Anjos vs. Cerrone 2 in December. Ironically enough, Dos Anjos was also Cerrone’s last defeat in the octagon. Fight fans saw this as Cowboy’s opportunity to finally capture UFC gold and avenge his loss to the former champ. Unfortunately, Dos Anjos TKO’d Cerrone literally a minute into the first round, taking the fight community by surprise.
Following the loss, Cerrone made the decision to start 2016 by going up a weight class to the welterweight division. As someone who walks around at an average 176-pounds, many were skeptical if he was going to be too small for the division. Many who cut weight to 170-pounds walk around in the 180’s and even 190’s in some cases, so basically eliminating his weight cut and unheard of.
Contrary to what many were weary of Cerrone has, for lack of better word, looked phenomenal in this division. He has said in many interviews how much he enjoys not cutting weight and being able to set onto the canvas on days notice if needed, which is something Cowboy is known for doing.
Since making his welterweight debut earlier this year as the main event against Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira at UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs. Cowboy in February, Cerrone has worked his way up to the #5 ranked welterweight. Undefeated in all four of his bouts in 2016, he has also earned himself three ‘Performance of the Night’ honors (although it is arguable that his fourth should have been his most recent performance against Matt Brown at UFC 206).
In an ultra-competitive division such as welterweight, Cerrone has proved himself once again of being able to hang with some of the top names in the UFC today. I believe though that 2017 will be his true test as to whether or not he can reach title contention.
Who is Cerrone’s next test? Although the promotion as yet to announce his next opponent (the guy did just fight like two weeks ago), I could see it being the winner of former UFC welterweight champion and #6 ranked Johny Hendricks vs. #8 ranked Neil Magny at UFC 207 on Friday. Not that Cerrone isn’t worthy of a top 5 ranked opponent, but there is no need to already throw him to the wolves. Let him (and us) continue to enjoy watching the super technical Cowboy do his thing a little longer.
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