Donald Cerrone picked up his fourth straight finish with an impressive second round knockout of Jim Miller in the main event of last night’s (July 16, 2014) UFC Fight Night 45 from Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
It was a telling bout that saw “Cowboy” put the inconsistency of his past behind him by defeating a top-ranked challenger in his own home state. Talk has already shifted to Cerrone’s next potential opponent, and the all signs clearly point to a showdown with undefeated No. 4-ranked contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“The Eagle” just hopped on Twitter to call out for a bout with “Cowboy,” urging Dana White to make the bout so he can test himself:
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) July 17, 2014
It’s a no-brainer to book this fight, as it would likely decide the next UFC lightweight title challenger once champion Anthony Pettis finally returns to defend his belt against Gilbert Melendez in the main event of UFC 182 on January 3, 2015.
“Cowboy’s” takedown defense often takes a backseat to his flashy and diverse Muay Thai striking skills, but he’s one of the toughest lightweights to take down in the Octagon. That’s a skillset that’s going to prove invaluable if and when he does square off with “The Eagle.”
The Combat Sambo champion has lifted and thrown his opponents to the tune of six straight UFC wins at 155 pounds, and many feel that he should already have his shot at the belt. With lightweight stagnant in terms of championship bouts right now, he’ll probably have to take another fight, however.
In this case, the fans win by default, as Nurmagomedov vs. Cerrone has the potential to be a rousing battle. Cerrone has looked unstoppable as of late, but he hasn’t faced off with an elite opponent like Nurmagomedov.
Miller is a great opponent, yet his recent finish wins over mid-level opposition in Yancy Medeiros and Fabricio Camoes masked his own degree of inconsistency. The New Jersey native tends to disappear in big fights, and he’s been suffering a fair amount of finish losses in recent years.
Nurmagomedov has ever been threatened in the Octagon, let alone beaten, so he’s going to give Cerrone one of the toughest bouts of his career. “Cowboy” has already lost to Pettis and former champion Benson Henderson twice. He needs to make a statement if he’s ever going to earn a rematch with either one.
Defeating Nurmagomedov would be the perfect way to do that.
“The Eagle” will be tough to ground. If anything can change the course of a fight, it’s Cerrone’s vaunted low, front, and high kicks. Can he stay upright long enough to land them on Nurmagomedov?
I hope we get to find out soon.
Photo: David Manning for USA TODAY Sports