'Donald showed up, Cowboy wasn't there': Cerrone explains 40-second defeat to Conor McGregor (VIDEO)
The return of UFC superstar Conor McGregor lasted less than one minute in January - and the man he defeated that night, Donald Cerrone, says that the 'real' version of him didn't show up to the fight in Las Vegas.
If there has been a knock on Donald Cerrone's future Hall of Fame career, it has been that he hasn't given the best example of himself when it mattered most. This narrative played out in full in the January 19 fight against McGregor.
From the off, Cerrone was on the defensive. He was blasted with a McGregor hip bone seconds into the fight, followed by a trio of novel shoulder strikes which left the veteran fighter clearing wearing damage around his right eye.
One high kick and a few follow up shots on the ground later, the fight was over.Also on rt.com Conor McGregor crushes Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds at UFC 246
And in that blink-of-an-eye bout, Cerrone says that he didn't put forth nearly the effort required to match a fighter as ferocious as the notorious Irishman.
"Donald showed up, Cowboy wasn't there. The wrong guy showed up," Cerrone explained to ESPN's Brett Okamoto.
"I couldn't get going, couldn't get excited, couldn't get fired up. Didn't want to be there. Biggest fight, all the attention, my time to shine, and I didn't want to be there. It was crazy, man.
"I don't know why, I don't know how, I don't know how to change that. It sucks, man."
Cerrone's career ledger stands out, even among his peers. He has the most wins of any fighter in the history of the UFC, as well as the most finishes inside the distance.
Most fans, though, will point out that when the stakes have been at their highest, Cowboy has been found wanting. His biggest fights in recent years - against the likes of McGregor, Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Darren Till and others - have all ended in defeat and Cerrone says that he doesn't understand why he so often fails to give a good impression of himself when it matters most.
"Sometimes I show up and I'm fired up, ready to go. Sometimes I get there and [I'm like], 'I don't even want to be here.'
"So, I don't know. No idea. I wish I had the answer."
Dissecting the McGregor fight further, it clear that the American fighter has more than a few regrets of how he handled his business on that January evening in Las Vegas.
"I went in there with my thumb in my ass. Made it 40 seconds," he explained.
'It was a f**ked up deal. It sucked bad. I haven't really talked to anybody about that fight or anything going in. When he came at me and ran with that big shot and I shot it, I hit his hip bone.
"Then I grabbed a hold of him to get my bearings back, and he did the jumping shoulder slam, which just compounded the f**king fog in my brain.Also on rt.com ‘I got flat money’: Donald Cerrone says he got NO pay-per-view cash for Conor McGregor fight at UFC 246
"Then I let go, and he head kicked me. There was no time to regroup. From the first second of the fight to when he ended it I couldn't even get my bearings back.
"A lot of people have come to me and said I threw the fight. You've got the wrong guy to think I'd sell my soul. There's not enough money in the world I'd throw a fight. Are you kidding me?"
For a fighter as active as Cerrone, redemption is never far away. He is scheduled to fight another former lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis, on the UFC's upcoming May 9 card in Florida but a loss in that fight - which would be his fourth in a row - may well lead to this Cowboy walking off into the sunset for good.