Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone told everyone he was coming for the UFC's lightweight title in 2019. He was not kidding.
Cerrone (36-11) picked up a huge decision victory over Al Iaquinta (14-5-1) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Ottawa, Ontario. Cerrone, a 36-year-old veteran with nearly 50 professional fights under his belt, gained steam as the five-round bout played out and nearly finished Iaquinta multiple times with strikes.
All three judges scored it a dominant showcase for Cerrone, via scores of 49-45, 49-45 and 49-46.
"Not bad for 'Day Drinkin' Don,' huh?" Cerrone said. "I guess I'm doing it for all the old people out there. There's still a chance."
It was Cerrone's second victory since he dropped to the 155-pound division after competing in the 170-pound division from 2016 to 2018. After his previous win, an impressive TKO over rising prospect Alexander Hernandez, Cerrone admitted he wouldn't mind fighting former champion Conor McGregor on his way to the belt. The UFC explored it, but the bout didn't come together.
He reiterated his interest in a title shot -- and McGregor -- on Saturday.
"I want the title, whatever that means," Cerrone said. "Unless, Conor McGregor, you want to fight me in July. I'm ready."
Cerrone calls out McGregor for a fight
After his win, Donald Cerrone challenges Conor McGregor to fight him in July. For more UFC action, sign up for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Already the most winningest fighter in UFC history going into Saturday, Cerrone still looked very much in his prime against Iaquinta. He dropped Iaquinta with a jab late in the third round, and again with a front kick to the chin in the fourth. Before Saturday, Iaquinta had never been dropped in his MMA career.
By the end of the bout, Iaquinta's face was a bloody mess. A ringside physician checked on Iaquinta's injuries before allowing him to go out for the fifth round. After the bout, he could barely walk, due to the damage Cerrone inflicted with leg kicks.
Despite the loss, Iaquinta, 32, showed a lot of heart, and he did rock Cerrone multiple times in the second round. He caught a kick to the body and delivered a hard counter right hand that definitely grabbed the attention of the older fighter.
Current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is expected to defend his title next against interim champion Dustin Poirier in September. McGregor is still not booked for a fight. He has not fought since a loss to Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October.