Donald Cerrone, one of the most popular fighters to have crossed over from the WEC to the UFC at the turn of the year made his debut on Saturday at UFC 128, and picked up a second round submission win over the UK’s Paul Kelly.

With that in mind some may have been surprised to see the normally upbeat Cerrone looking somewhat subdued backstage after the fight.

Perhaps some put it down to the emotion of the occasion getting the better of him, but MMAfighting’s Ariel Helwani inadvertently stumbled across the real reason during his post-fight interview with the fighter.

“I was actually in the hospital when I got the call [asking me to fight Kelly].  My grandfather was up there really sick and I said yeah – he said go do what you got to do, and I did,” Cerrone recalls.

When asked how his grandfather was now, the real reason behind Cerrone’s subdued mood became painfully apparent.

“He just passed away,” Cerrone said, fighting back tears.

Realizing that the fighter was trying his best to keep his emotions in check, Helwani wisely moved on quickly to other topics after offering his condolences.

That meant however that many viewers were not aware of just how recently Cerrone’s loved one had died.  The heart-breaking truth was only revealed when the heavyhearted Cerrone wrote a message to his fans on Twitter later that night.

“I just had the greatest night of my career and 20 mins before my fight my grandfather ( father) passed!! I’m so sick I don’t know what to do,” he wrote.

It’s a heart-breaking story, but Cerrone dealt with it as well as anyone could have expected. No doubt his grandfather would have been very proud to know that his grandson’s first victory in the UFC was dedicated to him.

We at would certainly like to take this moment to send our sincere condolences to both him and his family.

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Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.


  1. I watched the video. Its tough seeing Cerrone so downtrodden and my best wishes go out to him and his family in their time of grief. Bittersweet for sure :(

  2. Yeah, the very definition of a ‘bittersweet’ moment. Glad he was able to keep his composure and get the win though. I’m sure there was nothing his grandfather would have wanted more than that.