Donald Cerrone is taking offense to any notion that the UFC put him in a fight with Conor McGregor to take a dive for the Notorious.
Speaking to MMA Fighting's Damon Martin, Cowboy vehemently denied that he would ever lay down in a fight:
"Hell no, I'm not bowing down. There's a bunch of s--t going around, people keep telling me 'I heard you're getting paid to take a dive.' There wouldn’t be enough money in the world for someone to pay me to take a dive. I could never look myself in the mirror if somebody paid me to take a dive. S--t, never happen.
“I'd rather fight for free than take money to f--king lose. That's not me. I'm going to fight my ass off like I do every time."
UFC President Dana White announced in November that McGregor would return to the Octagon on Jan. 18 against Cerrone.
Cerrone lobbied for the fight following his victory over Alexander Hernandez at UFC Fight Night 143 on Jan. 19: "It feels good to be back at 155 pounds. ... I want top-five. I even want Conor if he'll agree to it."
At the time, Cerrone was in the midst of a three-fight winning streak. The 36-year-old has since lost his last two bouts by TKO, including a first-round stoppage at the hands of Justin Gaethje on Sept. 14.
Ali Abdelaziz, who manages Khabib Nurmagomedov, wrote on Instagram after the McGregor-Cerrone fight was announced that Gaethje "was the fight to take if you want to fight for a [lightweight title]."
The post also included a fake picture of McGregor staring at his phone with two images, one of Cerrone and one of Gaethje, and the image of Cerrone had an arrow pointing toward the word "easy" on it.
UFC 246 will mark McGregor's first fight since Nurmagomedov defeated him by fourth-round submission at UFC 229 in October 2018. That's his only mixed martial arts bout in the past three years, though he did venture into the boxing world for a matchup with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August 2017.
Cerrone is one of the best fighters in UFC history. He holds the record for most career wins (23) and finishes (16) in the promotion.