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SportsColumnistsMark La Monica

UFC's Donald Cerrone ready to fight at any moment

Donald Cerrone looks on as he presents NASCAR

Donald Cerrone looks on as he presents NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick (not pictured) with a UFC belt at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 22, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Credit: Getty

Donald Cerrone is the ultimate fighter, and not in that initial capital letter sense of the phrase that refers to the UFC's reality competition series for up-and-coming prospects.

Connotatively, those three words should be boldfaced and in all caps. Heck, you can italicize one, two or all three of them. They all play into what Cerrone is all about.

He epitomizes the "anytime, anyplace, anyone" concept.

"The opponent never matters, I just need a 'who,' " Cerrone said Tuesday.

Cerrone's not the greatest mixed martial arts fighter, nor is he the best in his own lightweight division, although he's among the top 155-pounders.

Rather, "Cowboy" Cerrone embodies an attitude and approach to fighting that should endear himself to all fans of this sport of physical talent, artistry and aggression. As soon as he's done with a fight, he wants another one. Soon. Sooner than soon.

"Denver, Colorado, in a couple weeks would be pretty cool," Cerrone said after UFC 182 last Saturday.

"That's my boy," UFC president Dana White said in response.

Cerrone's attitude never wavers, win or lose.

After defeating Myles Jury by unanimous decision at UFC 182 -- Cerrone won handily but wasn't happy about his performance and said he considered it a loss -- he said he wanted his next fight to be in 42 days in Broomfield, Colorado.

"If Dana says you can fight in Denver and get another paycheck, I would love it," Cerrone said after the fight.

A noble attitude indeed.

Well, 42 days was too long for Cerrone, the No. 3 lightweight in the UFC's media-generated rankings, to wait. Fifteen days seemed more acceptable to the "Cowboy."

He happily agreed to step in for Eddie Alvarez to face No. 5-ranked Benson Henderson at UFC Fight Night in Boston on Jan. 18.

We'll do the math for you: That's two weeks and a day to recover from 15 minutes of MMA fighting against Jury (albeit very little damage suffered by Cerrone), train, drive his RV to Boston, cut weight again, get back down to 155 pounds for a few minutes on a Saturday afternoon, then prepare to fight the former UFC lightweight champion.

"I don't even have enough time to prepare a cake," Cerrone said. "There'll be no game-planning. Just fight."

That's not normal, unless of course you have "Cerrone" tattooed across the top of your back and you walk out to the octagon to Kid Rock's song "Cowboy."

This is what Cerrone does, when he's not busy riding bulls, skydiving, riding motorcycles, off-roading on an all-terrain vehicle, sparring light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones or any other to-the-extreme activity he can come up with for an adrenaline rush. Cerrone's Instagram feed is an adventure show in waiting for an outdoor sports network.

Cerrone said White called him on Monday to say the fight was available and that he preferred Cerrone pass on the opportunity and take some time to rest. That's like telling a little kid he can't play with a toy. The exact opposite will happen.

"All right, well, I'll take the fight," Cerrone said. "My mentality is still the same."

Sure, the short turnaround presents its share of danger, but as Cerrone put it, "so does cocaine and alcohol, but this is a little less."

Cerrone (26-6) and Henderson fought twice before. Both were WEC lightweight title fights, and both were won by Henderson (21-4). Cerrone has won six straight fights, all of which have come in the past 15 months. The average fighter, if he or she remains healthy, gets about three fights per year. Henderson lost his UFC title to Anthony Pettis in the summer of 2013 and has gone 2-1 since. In his most recent fight, he lost by first-round knockout to Rafael dos Anjos.

"I could sit back like every other fighter and wait, but I'm not every other fighter, I'm my own guy," Cerrone said Tuesday. "If I'm gonna be the champ, I'm gonna have to beat everybody anyway. What does sitting and waiting and holding my position do?"

New York Sports