UFC 246 Fighter Flashback: Donald Cerrone on his ‘scariest, most intense, fun’ pre-fight nerves

UFC 246 Fighter Flashback: Donald Cerrone on his ‘scariest, most intense, fun’ pre-fight nerves

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Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone will kick off the 2020 UFC pay-per-view schedule Jan. 18 when they headline UFC 246 in Las Vegas. The fight serves as McGregor’s highly anticipated return to the octagon after 14 months, while Cerrone receives the biggest opportunity of his nearly 14-year career. As part of an occasional series ahead of the matchup, let’s flash back to a memorable Cerrone interview in which he broke down the anxiety and nerves he feels ahead of his fights.

When Donald Cerrone makes his walk to the octagon to face Conor McGregor at UFC 246, he will become the man with the most fights in UFC history.

But despite his 33 previous fights on the sport’s biggest stage, “Cowboy” revealed he still suffers with nerves and anxiety ahead of each walk to the cage.

Before he fought Yancy Medeiros at UFC Fight Night 126 in February 2018, Cerrone (36-13 MMA, 23-10 UFC) broke down to MMA Junkie just what goes through his mind as he prepares for the moment he walks to the octagon and the cage door closes behind him.

“It’s what I love, man. I love fighting,” he said. “It’s the scariest, most intense, fun feeling. … I couldn’t even explain it to you.”

What he was able to do, however, was break down the rapid-fire salvo of emotions as he experiences the sensory overload of arriving and dealing with the media on fight week, all the way up to the moment he steps into the octagon itself.

“From right now (on interview day) – can’t sleep at night. Eating’s hard,” he said. “Make the weight – half the battle’s over. Fight day, (expletive), all your friends are like, ‘You’re gonna kill him.’ Uh, no (expletive). I’ve got to go in there and fight. It doesn’t just go like that. Scared … let’s go. Pack your (expletive), we’re in the arena. All your teammates are fighting, your coaches are there. It’s crazy. It’s scary. You go throw up in the bathroom – I do, anyway – then you’re standing and you’re walking in the hall and (expletive) light’s in your face, just like this. Now you’re live on TV, you’re walking down the tunnel, and you’re like, ‘Holy (expletive). Six weeks, and it’s here, and it’s now.’

“I’ve been on the edge of a plane, about to jump out. I’ve been on top of mountains. And nothing puts the hair on the back of your neck feeling like walking into that (expletive) octagon and they shut that door and you’re like, ‘Well, there’s only two ways this can go, right? In or out.’”

That rush of emotion will return when Cerrone makes the walk to the octagon at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Jan. 18 against McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) in what will in all likelihood be the most-watched fight of the 36-year-old’s 51-fight MMA career.

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