Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is one step closer to his ultimate goal to once again fight for the UFC lightweight title following an absolute war on Saturday night.
In his second fight back at 155 pounds, Cerrone showcased a striking clinic to out duel Al Iaquinta over five rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory in the main event for UFC Fight Night from Ottawa.
It didn’t take long for Cerrone and Iaquinta to get warmed up as the two top 10 ranked fighters were immediately launching bombs at each other in the opening round.
While Iaquinta was focused on his boxing, Cerrone was setting up his entire striking attack with a barrage of kicks. From the earliest exchanges, Cerrone began chipping away at Iaquinta’s lead leg from the inside and out as welts began appearing on the New Yorker’s thigh.
Chopping down Iaquinta’s foundation was obviously a big part of the game plan as Cerrone’s corner man Joe Schilling was constantly calling for those kicks in between each and every round.
As much as Cerrone was landing his kicks, Iaquinta refused to go away on the feet as he started to find a home for his overhand right that began landing with regularity. Midway through the fight, Iaquinta tagged Cerrone with a pair of stinging right hands that snapped his head back and definitely got his attention.
Still it was Cerrone who was doing more damage with a volume striking attack while Iaquinta was often times coming up just short on his punches while dealing with a reach disadvantage against the taller, longer fighter.
The momentum in the fight really started to shift at the end of the second round after Cerrone dropped Iaquinta with a short jab that sent him to the canvas. Cerrone followed him to the ground with a barrage of strikes but the round ended before he could get the finish.
Cerrone nearly got the finish again a round later after he uncorked a front kick to the mush with shades of Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort in his mind. Miraculously, Iaquinta got knocked down for the second time but still managed to recover and work his way back to the feet.
Once Cerrone really started to put the hurt on Iaquinta his confidence soared because he began throwing three and four punch combinations with less regard for his opponent’s ability to return fire.
By the time the fifth round was winding down, Iaquinta had a cut under his eye and his nose was smashed and bleeding profusely as he wore the effects of the fight all over his face.
A late slip from Iaquinta put him back on the mat with Cerrone again raining down punches looking for a last second finish but time ran out before he could get the job done.
In the end, Cerrone still did more than enough to earn the victory with the judges returning scorecards reading 49-45, 49-45, 49-46 in his favor
“Not bad for a day drinking don huh?” Cerrone said following his second straight win in the lightweight division. “I guess I’m doing it for all the old people out there. There’s still a chance.
“I’m coming. I guess the Dad Cerrone is 3-0 now. I’m on a new mission.”
Cerrone has said often how much his son has changed his life and it gave him a whole new level of motivation to chase gold in an attempt to truly define his legacy. Cerrone already holds a host of UFC records but winning the title would definitely be the icing on the cake.
As far as what comes next, Cerrone won’t be getting a shot at the belt with lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov occupied with an upcoming fight against interim champion Dustin Poirier later this year.
That said, Cerrone has another option in mind if a certain Irish superstar is willing to face him this summer.
“I want the title, whatever that means, unless Conor McGregor you want to fight me in July,” Cerrone said. “I’m ready. Fourth of July, let’s do it.”