At UFC 141 against the always game and dangerous Nate Diaz, Donald "The Cowboy" Cerrone's flaws were shown and in big fashion.
The loss dropped Cerrone, who had won six straight including going 4-0 in 2011 before the fight, from the cusp of a title shot into the deep waters of the lightweight division. Cerrone went the way of the previous seven 155ers who's momentum towards a title shot was stopped this year by another up-and-comer. So the question is, where does The Cowboy go from here?
For all the flaws that were exposed by Diaz at UFC 141, Cerrone still fought hard and made the lopsided contest an exciting fight. There are still some in the MMA community that feel that both fighters are much more closely matched that the fight showed.
That agreement has some legs because Cerrone was fighting for the fifth time in 2011 and sixth in 380 days while Diaz fought one of the most accurate fights in the history of MMA. No matter what the argument, Diaz pushed Cerrone down the lightweight totem pole and delayed The Cowboy's title hopes til at least 2013 at the earliest.
Following the loss one name immediately came to mind when it came to the question of where Cerrone now ranks: Chris Lytle. Lytle was a former welterweight who possessed enough skill to defeat all but the most skilled fighters at 170, making every fight an entertaining one.
He was a very well-rounded fighter who had no qualms about fighting a stand-up war but could still take you down and submit you if he felt that's where the fight needed to go. Though he could not defeat bigger, better fighters consistently, he always gave the crowd their monies worth.
Cerrone skills and flaws mirror those of Lytle's, with his relative youth meaning that he could possibly make another title run if he can raise his skills. From here Cerrone needs to devote himself to allowing his body to properly rest while also dedicating himself to improving his BJJ game.
For all his great kickboxing skills his fight at UFC 141 seemed to show that his body had begun to wear down because he was unable to pull the trigger like he normally does. If he can also improve his BJJ game he won't need to fear going to the ground, make like he did when he fought Nate Diaz.
In closing, Cerrone currently possesses all the skills to win most fights and make every single one entertaining. However if he wants to be more than just an entertaining gatekeeper like Chris Lytle he will need to dedicate himself to improving his jiu-jitsu as well as allowing his body time to rest up.