Donald Cerrone is good.
He's really good, in fact.
An excellent kickboxer with deceiving strength and wrestling to go along with a polished ground game, Cerrone is one of the more well-rounded fighters one will find in the Octagon.
That said, he'll never win the UFC lightweight belt. The gold just isn't meant for "The Cowboy," I'm afraid.
In his recent win over perennial tough guy Jeremy Stephens at UFC on Fuel 3, Cerrone showcased a brilliant variety of strikes en route to his unanimous decision victory. He was utterly dominant, but let's be real here: It was Jeremy Stephens. While I'll never knock Stephens as a game fighter, he isn't exactly the greatest measuring stick to declare somebody the best in the division (or anywhere close for that matter).
Cerrone simply did what he was supposed to do, and he did it impressively. That's good, but he's still not a lightweight title contender.
It takes only a glimpse to Cerrone's not-so-distant past to see why. In a December 2011 matchup against Nathan Diaz, Cerrone suffered a defeat that snapped a four-fight win streak and brought his title aspirations to a screeching halt.
The fact that he got beat isn't all that's important, though. He got dismantled.
Will Donald Cerrone ever challenge for the lightweight title?
Use whatever descriptor you'd like, Cerrone was outclassed in his fight against Diaz, and it proved he is still missing some vital components before he can be a legitimate contender.
At 29 years of age and a world of experience under his belt, it's a little bit late for Cerrone to reinvent himself and make the kind of changes he would need to see his title dreams become a reality.
Honestly, what he did to Stephens was great, but we've seen him do that to fighters of Stephens' caliber in the past. If he could have finished Stephens in dramatic fashion or taken him down and submitted him with ease, I may have a different opinion on the matter.
As it is, though, Cerrone didn't really show me anything I didn't know he could already do, and until he does, I have to say he will never contend for the UFC lightweight gold.
All is not lost, though; they probably make replicas of the strap that he can buy as a ridiculously large belt buckle to add to his cowboy garb.
That is, unfortunately, as close as he's going to get to the real thing.