After a terrific first-round submission win over Mike Perry in front of his home fans at UFC Denver, longtime fan favorite Donald Cerrone made the decision to drop back down from welterweight to lightweight.
Set to fight Alexander Hernandez at UFC Brooklyn on January 19th, Cerrone is focused on his next opponent, but he does have his eyes on a showdown with Conor McGregor.
“I think [McGregor’s] side is interested in it, I know I’m very interested, and for the UFC, that’s a money fight,” Cerrone told ESPN. “By no means am I overlooking Alex. I’m focused on getting through him, and Conor is potentially what’s next.
”I don’t see why he would turn the fight down. I’m interested to see how it all plays out. I’m pretty sure Conor and I will be meeting in the Octagon soon.”
Cerrone hasn’t fought at lightweight since losing to then-champion Rafael dos Anjos back in December 2015. He quickly rose up the ranks at welterweight before suffering three straight defeats vs. Jorge Masvidal, Robbie Lawler, and Darren Till. His peak years were undoubtedly at 155 lbs, and this time around he vows that his weight cutting habits have improved.
“I weigh 175 pounds right now, and I’ve hired a full-time chef,” Cerrone said. “I used to just starve myself and cut 20 pounds the week of the fight.”
Hernandez, whom Cerrone claimed accepted the bout after four others turned him down, is 2-0 in the UFC, but he made a big splash when he upset Beneil Dariush by first-round KO in his short notice debut. He followed up that performance with a hard-fought decision over Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
Cerrone explained the process he’s taking to get back into title contention.
“This first fight is about getting back into the rankings, but from that point on, we’re going to have to sit and choose opponents,” Cerrone said. “Because getting all the way to the front door, only to have the guys ahead of you say they want to wait, so you give an up-and-comer a shot at your position -- I’d just be turning myself into a gatekeeper, which is not what I want.
”It’s time to get that belt. It’s the last thing I need for my legacy. So I plan on doing that, and doing whatever it takes to get there.”
Cerrone vs. Hernandez will be the featured ESPN TV prelim, with the UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw main card airing live on ESPN+.