This Saturday night, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (10-2) will make his fourth appearance inside the cage this year as he takes on Ed "9mm" Ratcliff in what he hopes to be a step in the right direction towards his ongoing quest of becoming the WEC Lightweight Champion.
The bull-rider turned professional MMA fighter has faced a couple of setbacks this year when he came up short in his first attempt at the title against Champion Jaime Varner.
In the fifth round of their bout Cerrone landed a knee while Varner was still on the mat. The match came to an end after Varner told the cage-side physician that he could no longer see.
The bout went to the scorecards where Cerrone lost by way of a technical split decision.
Cerrone moved on to and faced James Krause in Sacramento on the under-card of WEC 41: Brown vs. Faber II. The California crowd didn't get to see a whole lot of Cerrone as submitted Krause with a rear-naked choke in the very first round.
Immediately following the Krause fight it looked as if things were all set for Cerrone to get his rematch against Varner at WEC 43 , but that fight never came to fruition as Varner was not able to get medically cleared.
Instead, the Colorado "Cowboy" Cerrone took on Ben Henderson for the interim WEC Lightweight Championship at the aforementioned WEC 43 this past October in San Antonio, TX. After five close and grueling rounds Cerrone would once again come up short in his bid of capturing the strap as all three judges scored the bout 48-47 in favor of Henderson.
Many onlookers felt that the nod should have gone to the "Cowboy."
Cerrone had nothing but praise for his fellow combatant immediately following the fight, but also felt that had he not gotten off to such a slow start the night likely would have had a different ending.
After the Henderson bout the "Cowboy" enlisted the help of a sports psychologist to help correct his achille's heel of slow starts that has followed him into his biggest fights.
He has different plans for Ed Ratcliff (7-1) this Saturday night when he once again does battle in the cage, this time at the Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, as he vows to start strong from the moment the opening bell sounds.
Of Cerrone's 10 wins, nine have come via submission while only one was sent to the scorecards, so I naturally was left scratching my head when Cerrone recently stated in a conference call that he didn't anticipate the fight going to the ground and planned on standing up and trading with the hard-hitting underdog in Ratcliff.
Many will argue that it won't matter much whether or not the fight goes to the ground or the fighters stay on their feet as they feel that Cerrone is better than Ratcliff in every single aspect.
A submission win for Cerrone wouldn't come as a shock to anyone, but he feels going out there and letting his hands go would be more impressive.
An impressive win is exactly what he needs to get him back in the cage with either Varner or Henderson, who will face each other next month at The ARCO Arena in Sacramento to contest the WEC Lightweight Championship.
When asked, Cerrone stated that, despite liking Henderson, he feels that Varner will be too much for him and will ultimately retain his title.
As long as Cerrone can get through Saturday night's Versus televised bout with Ratcliff, he'll get a chance for revenge as well as another crack at the title.
And knowing Cerrone, he won't be willing to wait for very long.
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