Legendary UFC fighter Donald Cerrone left his gloves in the Octagon at UFC 276 on Saturday night after announcing his decision to retire from the sport following a submission loss to Jim Miller.
Backstage afterwards ‘Cowboy’ spoke to the 39-year-old about calling time on his career, and by the sounds of things it’s a big weight of his shoulders.
“This sport is crazy,” Cerrone told reporters at the UFC 276 post-fight press conference. “It’s the highest highs and the lowest lows, and I feel, probably the best I’ve felt in my career at my lowest right now if that makes any sense,” Cerrone said. “It was important for me to go out with Joe [Rogan] and Bruce [Buffer] in the cage. Just an iconic thing, here in Vegas. I knew back in January when we started training for the first round, this was going to be my last round, no matter what I told you guys. I remember telling the media team you guys are not to ask me about retiring, and I said, ‘I’ll do 50,’ but win or lose tonight, this was it, I was riding off.
“I don’t love it anymore like I used to. Last night I couldn’t sleep. I was up until six in the morning laying there, and I’m not going to miss those feelings, I’ll tell you that. But it was good to go in there. I surprised the hell out of my team. They had no idea it was coming. My wife didn’t know. No one knew. It was a good secret I had. Talk about emotional, yeah, but I feel good. It’s like the biggest sigh of relief I’ve ever had in my life. ‘Ooh. Aah. We’re done.’ Now it’s off to the next chapter. And I’ll be back. I’ll come hang out, watch fights, talk to the young generation, tell them all the things they should’ve, could’ve, would’ve done. And maybe I’ll get an itch in two years, who knows? But anytime soon, hell to the no.”
Cerrone also revealed that he’d been contemplating retiring since before his TKO loss to Conor McGregor, having also been TKO’d in his previous two bouts against Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje a year earlier.
“Before I fought McGregor, I knew,” Cerrone admitted. “Then after the McGregor fight, I took another fight and I was just going through the motions. I didn’t enjoy it, didn’t love it. I knew the time was soon I just had to pick the right time. So I took a lot of time off and then called my agent and said let’s get a fight, and I just knew this was going to be the last one…
“My wife played soccer in college, and a lot of the things that kept me going in the last fights of my life was, she was like, ‘I wish I could go back and just play one more game,’” Cerrone said. “‘You have the chance to do one more fight. Go experience it and love it.’ And I was trying to love it, I was trying to find it, and I was trying to experience it. I just was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I was doing it for everybody else and on myself. But retiring tonight, that was for me, and I f****** feel good about it. I’m gonna go home tonight and crack me a nice cold Budweiser and f****** chug it all the way down and be like, ‘Ahh. Good career, Cowboy.’”
So, Cerrone bows out with an overall 36-17 (+2nc) career record, including a 23-14 (+1nc) run in the UFC, breaking multiple records along the way, while also becoming a firm fan favorite and guaranteeing his place as a future hall-of-famer.
“This is it right here tonight,” Cerrone said. “Everyone got really emotional. Like I said, I had both my boys in there, Bruce and Joe sent me off, and I’ll hang my hat on that all day long. One hell of a career. And why not? The guy tied with the most wins takes the wins and keep going. Hell yeah! Good job, Jim. F****** run with it, baby. I’m going to step down and it’s all good. So if I had a moment that I look back on, this is it. I’ve dreamt of this moment for a long time, of finally being OK in my heart saying it’s time to walk away, and this was it.”
“I’m going to drink beer up there on the front row and have a belly so big I can’t even see my d***, that’s what I’m looking for,” Cerrone joked. “So take a look at this body because it’s going to be the last time it’s ever looking this way, and after that I’m turning the corner and never looking back.”