Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone earned a TKO win in his first fight back at lightweight since 2015 and now he may be headed for a showdown against the biggest superstar in the sport.
On Saturday night in Brooklyn, Cerrone headlined the first UFC card aired on ESPN while facing hungry young lightweight contender Alexander Hernandez, who came into the fight after back-to-back wins to start his career with the organization.
Youth and vigor got Hernandez his first two wins in the UFC but this time around he went up against a cagey veteran in Cerrone, who showed that the old dog still had a few new tricks to show off in his 30th fight inside the Octagon.
A notoriously slow starter, Cerrone had to eat a few punches early from Hernandez before he started firing back in succession and doing a lot of damage to the confident lightweight contender.
While Hernandez was the aggressor, it was Cerrone who started to land with precision and power with several of his punches snapping his opponent’s head back with a lot of force behind every combination.
With each passing minute, Cerrone gained more and more confidence with his shots doing a lot of damage with a series of cuts opening up on Hernandez’s face. Despite eating a lot of punches and knees from Cerrone, Hernandez was still managing to move forward but he was definitely getting the worst of the exchanges.
As the second round got underway, Hernandez was right back in Cerrone’s face trying to overwhelm the veteran with a pressure filled game plan but his defense was doing him no favors as he was constantly eating punches when he stepped forward.
Cerrone’s relentless attack was non-stop as he was constantly throwing combinations and if his first punch didn’t land, he’d end up popping Hernandez with one of the next three or four strikes he’d launch at him.
The barrage of punishing shots just started to weather away at Hernandez’s defense and with each passing second, Cerrone got that much closer to a finish.
Finally with Hernandez reeling, Cerrone uncorked a massive head kick that blasted the upstart lightweight and sent him crashing to the ground. Cerrone immediately followed up with a huge flurry of punches and elbows that forced the referee to rush in and prevent Hernandez from absorbing any more damage.
The official TKO stoppage came at 3:43 into the second round.
Cerrone said following his last fight that he was returning to the lightweight division with the ultimate goal to finally become UFC champion and he knows exactly the path it will take to get there.
“The old man’s still got it,” Cerrone said after his latest win. “I want top five. I even want Conor [McGregor] if he’ll agree to it. Cowboy’s back. I’m on a roll baby, here I come.”
Just minutes after Cerrone made the call out, McGregor answered back with a message of his own on Twitter accepting the challenge from the fighter with the most wins in UFC history.
“For a fight like that Donald, I’ll fight you,” McGregor said. “Congratulations.”
McGregor hasn’t fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov last October but it appears he’s ready to book his next fight even if he’s not going to get another shot at the championship.
It remains to be seen if the UFC will book it, but it definitely appears ‘Cowboy’ got McGregor’s attention for a potential showdown in 2019.