Cerrone says he’s ready to keep fighting after 50 games

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, shown before a fight in 2020, returns to the octagon on Saturday night. (AP Photo/John Locher)

In the violent and unforgiving world of MMA, records are like bones and hearts: made to be broken.

In media interviews this week, Edgewood’s Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone said he hopes to set records before he retires that will never be equaled or surpassed.

Will he?

There’s no denying that Cerrone had, and is having, a career of historic proportions in his chosen sport. He enters Saturday’s bout on a UFC card in Las Vegas, Nevada, against fellow Graybeard Jim Miller with a chance to break a tie with Miller and Andrei Arlovski for the most wins (23 so far) at the UFC.

In total UFC fights, he trails Miller by two and Arlovski by one with 37.

If Cerrone wins impressively, he could break a tie with Brazilian Charles Oliveira for the most UFC fight bonuses (18).

If he drops Miller with a punch or kick, he will add to his own record of knockdowns (20).

It’s fair game. “My plan, I want to put records where people can’t even touch,” Cerrone said.

But to do that, Cerrone, 39, may have to convince Oliveira, the current UFC lightweight champion, to retire early.

At 32 years and nine months, Oliveira has 21 wins and 30 fights in the UFC. At the same age, Cerrone had 15 UFC wins and 19 fights. (One of those wins came against Oliveira, who Cerrone beat by first-round TKO in 2011.)

Among the under-30s is 24-year-old Chinese bantamweight Yadong Song (nine UFC fights, eight wins). Cerrone was 30 when he fought his ninth UFC fight and earned his eighth victory.

But the closest thing to an untouchable record, should he achieve it, is Cerrone’s goal of 50 fights in the organization known as Zuffa – made up of the UFC and the WEC, a circuit owned by to Zuffa for lighter weight fighters who was absorbed into the UFC in 2011.

Cerrone says Saturday’s fight will be his 49th for this organization; his fight-by-fight list shows him with 47 – 37 in UFC, 10 in WEC – entering Miller’s fight.

In any case, Cerrone made it clear this week that he intends to hit 50 and may not stop there.

“If they call me for 51, I’m going to say okay, I’m here,” he said.

Or maybe not. A loss on Saturday would be Cerrone’s sixth in a row, and UFC President Dana White has in the past expressed concern for the Cowboy’s health.

In favor of Cerrone is the anytime, anywhere, against anyone attitude that has earned him five fights in one calendar year (2011) and four in the other six years. In contrast, Albuquerque’s Diego Sanchez (32 UFC fights, 19 wins) predated Cerrone at Zuffa by three years but never had more than three fights in a year.

Can anyone else reach 50?

Miller is the UFC fight leader at 39, but he has never competed in the WEC. At 38, 50 seems the farthest of possibilities.

For Arlovski, 43, as enduring and popular as he is, 50 seems out of reach.

Oliveira has never fought more than three times in a calendar year. At this rate, he would have to fight another seven years to reach 50. He would be 39, as Cerrone is now.

Yadong, the young Chinese bantamweight, has also never fought in UFC competition more than three times in a year. At this rate, he would be at least 38 if he hit 50.

Is there anyone we missed? Most likely. It seems fair, however, to say that Cerrone has fashioned a steep hill to climb — but not quite comparable to Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 consecutive major league games.

As for Pete Rose’s all-time MLB record of 4,256 hits, if you count both hits and hits, Cerrone may already be there.

Cerrone (36-16 overall) and Miller (34-16) each weighed 170.5 pounds for Saturday’s bout, half a pound under the welterweight limit for non-title bouts.

Miller is a moderate betting favorite, although he lost to Cerrone by second-round TKO when they fought eight years ago in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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