(The best part about wearing a cowboy hat to a press conference? You can be dead asleep, and people will just think you’re carefully considering your answer. / Photo via MMAWeekly)
Donald Cerrone is the type of guy who will go for the kill at every moment of a fight, then blow his resulting bonus-check on a pontoon boat cooze-cruise. He’s not the kind of guy who will hold his tongue when he sees some bullshit go down, even when that bullshit is related to one of his Greg Jackson teammates.
During a recent fan Q&A session, Cowboy was asked about Jon Jones‘s refusal to fight Chael Sonnen at UFC 151 — which led to the unprecedented cancellation of that event — and what he would do if he were put in the same position. Cerrone racked his verbal shotgun and said the following:
“Yes, I’d have fought. They could call me tomorrow and ask me to fight. I think you need to fight. That’s our job. I don’t think you should curl up and find a way out. So yes, that’s my answer…He’s my teammate, and we have this discussion all the time. I said, ‘You should’ve done it.’ And he goes, ‘Well, you don’t make a million (dollars) to fight.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re right, but I f—ing fight every time with all my heart.’”
To beat an already-dead catchphrase, this business about Jones rubbing his paycheck in Cowboy’s face isn’t going to help him “get some fans.” Meanwhile, Cerrone comes off looking like the proverbial People’s Champion, who’s only a phone call away from being in the cage at any moment, fighting his balls off for your entertainment.
And while I believe Cerrone and respect his gamebred attitude — Donald would probably go up two weight classes and fight Chael Sonnen himself, if the UFC wanted it — I don’t think every fighter needs to view their job the same way Donald Cerrone does. There are MMA fighters like him and, say, the Diaz brothers, who seem to truly enjoy fighting, and are in the sport for the love of the scrap. Then there are guys like Jones and Georges St. Pierre, who approach MMA as a competition, and seem to be much more interested in achievement, greatness, and self-improvement. The pure joy of punching another human being in the face doesn’t rank high on their list of motivations.
And that’s fine; it helps to explain why Jones might turn down a short-notice fight against an unexpected opponent. But good luck convincing the fans of that. Plus, when your own teammates start to publicly accuse you of curling up and looking for a way out, it’s safe to say that you have an image problem.