UFC 126 vs. Paul Kelly
Cerrone’s debut at the UFC closed the preliminary game of à la carte in Las Vegas and was certainly an impressive performance, while “Cowboy” dominated and finally subdued the durable and dangerous Briton in the middle of the second tower.
Although his first UFC win is worth mentioning, making it an automatic addition to this list is what happened before Cerrone reached the Octagon.
Cerrone was raised by his grandparents in Colorado and his grandfather, who had been instrumental in the continuation of his fighting career and had participated in all of his grandson’s fights, fell ill and was in the hospital during the period leading up to this fight. As Cerrone started walking towards the Octagon, his friend and teammate Leonard Garcia was on FaceTime with Cerrone’s family in Denver when “Cowboy” saw his friend’s face fall.
Her grandfather had died.
With a heavy heart, Cerrone crosses the Octagon threshold for the first time and wins the first of his 23 victories to date.
And if you wanted to know how much of his life is his family, understand that grandmother Jerry could be even more loved in the MMA community than his grandson, and remains a constant presence to each of his fights.
UFC 150 against Melvin Guillard
Guillard had rebounded from consecutive losses and had moved to South Florida to join the Blackzilians after spending some time at Jackson-Wink, which gave this feeling a bit of “old-school rivalry”, while that Cerrone had rebounded from his first defeat at the UFC with a victory over Jeremy Stephens.
Most saw it as a crossroads fight for every man, with the winner remaining on the margins of contention and the loser likely to step back in the ultra-competitive lightweight division. He also had to be a barn burner and still managed to exceed expectations as these two came out of the door swinging and racing all kinds of excitement in a 76 second fight.
Just 11 seconds into the bout, Guillard dropped Cerrone with a left chin hook which had “Cowboy” on shaky legs and “The Young Assassin” looking for a finish for the next 30 seconds. But Cerrone stabilized and cut the top of Guillard’s head with a high left kick for a minute in the fight that shifted momentum.
Guillard was immediately on roller skates and Cerrone took advantage of it, loading forward and connecting with a clean right hand that ended combat on contact.
UFC on FOX 11 against Edson Barboza
A fight like this is representative of why light weight is widely regarded as the most competitive and entertaining division in the sport, as talented and entertaining guys like this square stand out all the time in fights that are not of immediate importance for the championship. They’re important for advancing the winner, of course, but it’s not like anyone thinks, “The winner is next.”
It’s just one of those competitive and undeniably intriguing confrontations that excite you as soon as it is announced and delivered when they hit the Octagon in Orlando.
Barboza came out swinging, poking Cerrone with a punch in his initial burst that had the veteran pistolero looking to pick up and fight less than 30 seconds. Cerrone recovered and started settling in, but Barboza’s speed advantage was clear and allowed the Brazilian to get the best of things as they traded in space.
After three minutes of the first round, everything was Barboza, as he started to open a little more, but just when it looked like Cerrone was going to be for a long night, he stuck Barboza with a quick blow who put it on the canvas.
Cerrone followed him onto the carpet, climbed onto his back and tied a bare choke on the back. The final streak lasted 11 seconds and showed not only how quickly the momentum of a fight can change, but also how dangerous Cerrone is at all times.