DENVER — Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone would probably fight on every single UFC card if he could — but there is something perfect about him fighting on this next one.
The UFC will celebrate its 25th anniversary at UFC Fight Night on Saturday, inside Pepsi Center. The location of the event is nod to UFC 1, which took place in Denver’s since-demolished McNichols Sports Arena in November 1993.
Cerrone (33-11) will meet Mike Perry (12-3) in Saturday’s co-main event. A victory would make Cerrone the single most winningest fighter in UFC history. He is currently in a three-way tie with Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping for the most wins (20) all time.
“It’s cool, especially on such a historic 25th anniversary,” Cerrone told ESPN. “You’d think they’d get easier. You’d think, ‘Man, 40th-something walk, maybe you’d be cruising.’ I’m still gonna be sweating bullets, faking it ’til I make it.
“I enjoy taking it all in. When you get a win, the whole team lights up — or you get a defeat and the whole team, it’s like one, big unit. It’s so cool, man. The journey, this life, it’s been fun. I couldn’t have picked a better career. I couldn’t have picked a better job.”
The circumstances around the fight are tense, in that Perry trains at JacksonWink MMA — the Albuquerque, New Mexico gym where Cerrone spent the majority of his career. Cerrone had a falling out with coach Mike Winkeljohn, because he says Winkeljohn agreed to coach Perry, a relative newcomer, against him in this fight.
When asked if he wishes this matchup would have never happened — so the entire situation could have been avoided — Cerrone didn’t hold back.
“Yeah, but it did happen,” Cerrone said. “And Mike Winkeljohn drew his line in the sand, and now I get to spit on him on the other side. So, it’s alright. F— him. There’s your clickbait, m—–f——. F— Mike Winkeljohn.”
Other than the clear animosity towards Winkeljohn, Cerrone appears to be in a good place headed into his potentially historic night.
The 35-year-old is actually from Colorado originally, and has enjoyed some of the best moments of his career here. Cerrone’s favorite moment all time actually happened at Pepsi Center, when he knocked out Melvin Guillard in comeback fashion in 2012.
“I almost lost, he hit me, I fell against the fence,” Cerrone said. “I ended up knocking him out. The place just went crazy. That was it. Denver, Colorado. Melvin Guillard.”
And if Cerrone breaks the record on Saturday, he wants to turn his attention to the only thing he never accomplished in his career, and actually always stated he never cared about: the lightweight championship.
He’s said this fight against Perry will be his last at the 170-pound welterweight limit, before returning to his longtime home of 155 pounds.
“It’s time. My whole career mentality-wise I was always like, ‘I just want to fight and put on a show,'” Cerrone said. “But I can see the end of the tunnel. I’m not lying to anybody. I’m the oldest guy on this card, man. But it’s time. That’s the last thing I need to do in my career before I hang it up.”