Last Roundup For Cowboy Cerrone?

When a UFC fighter goes 0-4-1 in his last five fights and is 37-years-old, rumors that he may be asked to retire — implying a threat of his getting cut if he doesn't — immediately begin to swirl. And in this case the rumor comes straight from the proverbial horse's mouth — from that of UFC president Dana White, who was quoted as saying, "I know it's going to break his heart, but Donald Cerrone and I need to talk about retirement."

Cerrone managed a draw with Niko Price at Saturday night's UFC Vegas 11 only because he was on the receiving end of two eye pokes from Price, the first resulting in a warning and the second a one-point deduction.

And this despite the facts that not only is Cerrone's 36 fights in the UFC tied with Jim Miller (who Cerrone knocked out in the second round at UFC Fight Night 45 in 2014) for the most in UFC history and his 23 UFC wins giving him sole possession of the all-time UFC mark (Miller is 21-14, with one no contest), but time and again he has saved entire cards from coming to the same retroactive end as the ill-fated UFC 151 by stepping in to take a fight on ultra-short notice, otherwise his career record might be better than 36-15-1.

A native of Denver, Cerrone moved his "tack," as they say in horse racing (he had started out with a few local fights in Colorado) to Greg Jackson's star-studded camp in Albuquerque (which he left two years ago to set up his own camp, the BMF Ranch; what "BMF" stands for does not meet PG-13 standards!) in 2006 (come to think of it one of Cerrone's teammates at Jackson's, Rashad Evans, also left Jackson's in 2011 after an even more acrimonious dispute than the one that prompted Cerrone to leave — and Evans ended up retiring after losing his last five fights; talk about ammunition for coincidence deniers — and where Evans departed for South Florida, Cerrone has stayed closed at hand, his ranch being located in nearby Edgewood, New Mexico), and signed with World Extreme Cagefighting, which later became a victim of a hostile takeover by the UFC.

"Cowboy"'s signature fights in the WEC included the pair he split with Jamie Varner, the only opponent with whom he ever had any kind of feud in his entire career (indeed, Sherdog's photo gallery is littered with pictures of Cerrone shaking his opponent's hand, either at weigh-ins or after fights), his two losses to Benson Henderson, and his wins over Danny Castillo (both were undefeated going in), Rob McCullough, the previously unbeaten James Krause, and Ed Ratcliff.

With such an illustrious record, it should come as no surprise that Dana White included Cerrone among the WEC fighters who were offered UFC contracts — and he hit the ground running, winning his first four fights before dropping a unanimous decision to Nate Diaz at UFC 141. After going 3-2 in his next five, Cerrone reeled off eight consecutive victories, including an avenging of his two defeats at the hands of Benson Henderson in the WEC, before being stopped after just 66 seconds by the same Rafael dos Anjos who had defeated him by unanimous decision two years earlier, at UFC on Fox 17 in 2015 (maybe Margaret Thatcher was right when she said during the Falklands/Malvinas War in 1982 that if we gave the loser of every war a rematch, there would be chaos).

Cerrone won four in a row after the dos Anjos rematch, but since then he is 4-8-1, his last victory coming more than 16 months ago, when he outpointed Al Iaquinta at UFC on ESPN+ 9, his first win by decision in more than four years.

While discussions about "The Curse of 37" are confined mostly to baseball — Derek Jeter had one of his worst seasons the year he turned 37 (6 home runs, 61 RBIs, and a .297 batting average), Luis Aparicio hit .232 at that age (his second worst season ever at the plate) and Dave Stieb, who wore that number, pitched 11 complete games and had a 3.25 ERA in 1981, yet he could only manage an 11-10 record because the Blue Jays, for whom he played, averaged a paltry 2.8 runs per game in the games in which he started (Stieb was a seven-time all-star), there is no reason it cannot be extended to another sport, as well.

And from all appearances, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone would appear to sadly qualify.

Scott Coker over at Bellator would love to have Cerrone, just like he has snapped up so many other fighters that the UFC decided they were no longer interested in, such as Lyoto Machida and Phil Davis, who squared off at Bellator 245 earlier this month, with Davis prevailing by a razor-thin, and some would say, controversial split decision.

But perhaps it is best for all concerned if this cowboy is allowed to ride off into the sunset with his dignity still very much intact.

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