Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone: I Think Khabib Nurmagomedov Is Next

Hunter Homistek@HunterAHomistekCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2015

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Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone just keeps winning. 

Since November 2013, Cerrone has fought seven times. 

He's won seven times, too. 

With his win over Benson Henderson at UFC Fight Night 59 Sunday evening—his second win in as many weeksCerrone climbed ever closer to the top of the UFC's lightweight mountain. A title shot is within sight for the Greg Jackson's MMA product, but according to him, that opportunity has not arrived just yet. 

Speaking at the UFC Fight Night 59 post-fight press conference, Cowboy said he's going to take some time off then likely accept a bout against No. 2-ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov. (Skip to 15:45 in the embedded video for this quote. Warning: Link contains NSFW language.) 

"Talking with (UFC President) Dana (White) and (UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta), I think Khabib's going to be what's next for sure," Cerrone said. "I'm just going to take some time off and just get ready and stay ready and hopefully Khabib will be ready...I don't know. Whatever's next, I'm willing to take up and fight." 

For Cerrone, the words "time" and "off" usually don't sit so closely in a sentence. 

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The 31-year-old fighter fought four times in 2014 and twice already in January 2015. While his willingness to fight whenever, wherever earned him tremendous respect of late, it's probably a good thing he decided to take a little time off before his next bout. 

Be it Nurmagomedov or any other top-5 lightweight, Cerrone will face an elite competitor during his next trip to the UFC Octagon. Cowboy sits on the cusp of championship contention, and one more win will almost certainly result in his first shot at UFC gold. 

It's admirable to fight as much as possible, but now is simply not the time for Cerrone to overextend himself and take a fight without being as sharp and ready as possible. Doing so could cost him his chance at the title, and another opportunity may never arise. 

Against Nurmagomedov especially, Cerrone will need to be at his absolute best. The 26-year-old Dagestani fighter is a monster, racking up a perfect 22-0 record in professional mixed martial arts competition while establishing himself as one of the most polished and powerful grapplers in the sport today. 

Nurmagomedov has already soundly defeated current 155-pound title challenger Rafael dos Anjos, and the only thing keeping the American Kickboxing Academy product out of the title picture is himself. 

A torn meniscus forced him out of a UFC 178 bout opposite Cerrone (h/t MMAJunkie.com), and he's been out of action since that time. Still, with his stellar resume and undeniable skills, Nurmagomedov remains just one win away from a sure chance at the UFC strap. 

This makes the showdown with Cerrone all the more interesting should it materialize. Not only does it represent a classic striker vs. grappler matchup, but a title shot will be on the line, revving up the stakes and adding a healthy dose of excitement and intrigue to the fight. 

Nothing is finalized yet, but if Cowboy's crystal ball proves accurate, fight fans have one fantastic lightweight scrap to look forward to in the near future. 

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