LAS VEGAS – Donald Cerrone may have fought to a draw with Niko Price at UFC on ESPN+ 36 but, as far as he’s concerned, it was another defeat.
“This is the worst performance I’ve ever had, hands down,” he told reporters, including MMA Junkie, backstage at the UFC Apex. “I’m very upset with myself. I don’t know how else to say it, but I definitely count this as a loss. This is five in a row. And for someone who was out there fighting to keep his job, it wasn’t a very good job.”
Trying to unpack his performance during the post-fight press conference, Cerrone struggled to explain just why things panned out the way they did. What he did confirm was that, despite some solid pre-fight preparation, “Cowboy” didn’t show up on fight night.
“You know, all camp, all week, I felt good. Everything felt really good. I was hoping ‘Cowboy’ was gonna show up. And then, no. First round, I go in there – I think I was just wondering how many punches I could take until got knocked out. I had to have a serious talk to myself. There was one time that I almost dropped to a knee and I was like, ‘Oh you (expletive) (expletive)! Let’s go!’ Meanwhile, he was unloading on me!”
After giving himself a mid-fight pep-talk, Cerrone managed to battle back to earn a majority draw, with the assistance of a point deduction for a Price eye poke. But the outcome was far from satisfactory for “Cowboy,” who said he immediately offered Price a rematch early in 2021.
“Niko wants to do it again (and) I told him, ‘Let’s run this right back,’ and he was like, ‘Oh yeah!’ So I said, ‘Let me at least let me give you the opportunity to get the win. Let me at least give you the fair run. Let me try and show up,’” he said. “I don’t know what the secret is, but I told him, ‘Let me have January or February.’ I’m gonna take the rest of the year off. (Expletive) this 2020, man, you know? I’m gonna go snowmobiling, play with my little kid. I’m actually going to step back and take some time, have some fun.
“I don’t know what else to tell you guys. I did not have fun tonight. I did not enjoy it. It sucked, man. I got beat. That’s five in a row. Five losses in a row, on someone who has accolades that run deeper than you can believe. It’s crazy. The most wins, the most finishes, the most head-kicks, the most whatever. And then to go five losses? I’ve got a lot to work on mentally and it has nothing to do with any of my coaches or my training partners – we did everything right, everything was good. Then this morning everything felt great. Then I get here and everything was like, whooooah. I wish I had the secret.”
Despite clearly being upset with his performance and his five-fight winless run, Cerrone says he isn’t considering retirement just yet. Instead, he said he plans to get back to the drawing board and admitted he may reconnect with his old sports psychologist in a bid to ensure he returns to the cage with all guns blazing.
“I just need to figure out something that I’m doing wrong,” he explained. “There’s no way I’m looking or talking of retirement. I’m just talking taking a few months off to (expletive) regroup and figure some (expletive) out. That’s all.
“I’ve gotta do something. I’m gonna fight Niko again. … We’re gonna run it back again and I’m going to do everything I can in my power to come prepared. I’ll be fighting for my job, literally. So hopefully that lights the fire under my ass that I need.”