Hellbent on living life to its fullest, UFC star and extreme sports enthusiast Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone has long been a fan favorite thanks to his thrilling all-action fights inside the Octagon and his wildman antics outside of it.
A truly unique character who seemingly has more lives than a cat, in this article we’ll take a look at 10 of the craziest stories involving Cerrone over the years, including an alarming number of life-threatening incidents on land, air, and sea.
Disemboweled On An ATV
In the summer of 2006, Cerrone was riding his ATV over a jump when he lost control and ended up landing stomach-first onto the handlebars.
The injury he suffered was grotesque, essentially leaving him disemboweled and in absolute agony.
Cerrone was rushed to hospital, where he’d have to be revived three times and had a large portion of his intestines and a section of his stomach removed, before being placed in an induced coma for the next two weeks.
Thankfully, Cerrone recovered and soon continued his fighting career, but six-years later the injury came back to haunt him when his stomach rolled around his intestine, giving him an intensely painful stabbing sensation in his abdomen.
Again rushed to the hospital, Cerrone had to have his intestines flushed out and then water poured into his stomach to unspin it from his intestines.
Cerrone was two weeks out from a fight with Jeremy Stephens at the time, but despite being urged by his team to pull out, he still fought and won by unanimous decision.
The 40′ Fall
In January of 2013, Cerrone was chastised by UFC President Dana White for putting his health at risk after he was pictured rock climbing just 13 days before a fight with Anthony Pettis at UFC On FOX 6.
“If he gets hurt I’m going to f**king kill him!” White wrote on Twitter at the time.
On that occasion, Cerrone emerged unscathed, but despite the fact his contract specifically stated he was prohibited from undertaking dangerous activities outside the Octagon, a month later he was back climbing again, and this time it almost went horribly wrong.
Cerrone was teaching fellow fighter Leonard Garcia and coach Mike Winklejohn how to climb in Alberquerque when disaster struck as three anchor points that were holding him gave way while he was giving a demonstration, sending him plummeting 40 foot through the air, before a fourth anchor halted his fall.
Cerrone was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured hip and foot, but he was just thankful to be alive and decided there and then that he wasn’t going to put his life at risk anymore.
“I guess you need to dance with death..Just so you know how Precious life is,” Cerrone wrote on twitter. “@danawhite, the wild man IS THROUGH.#tooclosetoday #ninelives.”
However, turning his back on his love for extreme sports and activities would prove to be easier said than done.
One of Cerrone’s favorite things to do is go out on the lake with his boat, but apparently, not everyone is always happy to see him there.
During one visit with a group of his friends to Grand Lake, Colorado, a resident of the area, Jeffrey S. Aley, came speeding past in his own ski-doo and deliberately sprayed their boat with water, resulting in it washing up onto some nearby rocks.
It soon became apparent that Aley was drunk and later in the day he began shouting at Cerrone and his friends from the shoreline while flexing his muscles, saying, “which one of you pussies wants some?”
He then got in his boat and came speeding up to Cerrone’s and grazed the side of it as he went past.
“What the hell are you doing, man?” Cerrone shouted at him.
“Which one of you pussies wants some shit?” Aley began yelling at them again, before threatening to ram straight into their boat with his.
Sure enough, he then came speeding towards them again, only to turn at the last second and send a huge wave of water onto Cerrone’s boat, soaking everyone on-board and their possessions.
That was the final straw for Cerrone who would eventually confront Aley at the shoreline and front-kicked him in the stomach, which sat him down on the sand.
The troublemaker got back to his feet and tried to land a sucker-punch right hand, but Cerrone dodged it and then landed a head kick that floored him again.
Cerrone then sat down next to the drunk and backhanded him a few times, at which point the instigator took out of his phone and took pictures, then dialed 911.
Cerrone would later be charged with misdemeanor assault but was found not guilty, while Aley was charged with Reckless Operation of a boat and Reckless Endangerment.
The Hunting Accident
When Cerrone first posted up a close up of his horrific eye injury on social media in 2016, many fans thought it was too gruesome to be real and had to be a prank, perhaps taken on the set of a movie.
However, later Cerrone would reveal that it was, in fact, a real injury that almost cost him his eye, and in typical fashion, there was an interesting story to go along with it that was particularly fitting given his ‘Cowboy’ nickname.
“It happened while I was out hunting,” Cerrone told reporters. “I shot off my horse, the horse went fu***** crazy.
“A lot of it was superficial scratches, they all healed up.”
That was just as well as Cerrone had a UFC fight upcoming against Matt Brown at the time, and sure enough, after some high-tech medical care he was able to heal up in time to compete as planned.
“I got some stem cell stuff done in Mexico and that sped up the process a lot.
“So I’m all good, I’ve never pulled out of a fight my entire life.”
The Scuba-Diving Incident
In 2016, Cerrone went scuba diving in Santa Rosa, New Mexico where he and his girlfriend had been challenged to find $500 hidden somewhere at the bottom of Perch Lake.
However, things went disastrously wrong for ‘Cowboy’ when he dove down to around 50-60 feet below the surface and his diving suit suddenly began flooding and he suffered a major air leak that sent him sinking to the bottom of the lake.
“That’s how scuba diving works, it snowballs,” Cerrone told FOX Sports. “If something bad happens, one thing leads to another.”
With air screaming out of his regulator, Cerrone knew he had limited time left before his air supply ran out and so he began literally crawling along the bottom of the lake towards land.
Thankfully he eventually made it all the way to the edge of the lake and dragged himself out, by which stage his gas pressure was just 200 psi (a normal range is between 2,900 – 4400 psi), showing just how close he came to dying that day.
The Street Fight
Cerrone has always had an eye for the ladies, and that almost landed him in hot water back in 2011 when he spotted a pretty girl in a pink dress and began speaking to her while out with his friend and training partner Leonard Garcia.
According to Garcia, the woman’s heavily-muscled boyfriend was infuriated when he saw Cerrone and proceeded to rip off his shirt and threaten him while shouting, “Are you talking to my girl?!”
Cerrone told him to shut up, but he and Garcia decided to get into their truck nearby and leave.
However, as they pulled away ‘Cowboy’ spotted the still irate man chasing after the girl and so they pulled up alongside her to see if she was ok, prompting another angry outburst from her boyfriend.
At that stage, Cerrone got out of the truck, walked over to the man and proceeded to unleash a single leg kick that took the troublemaker clean off his feet.
“It was a brutal kick,” Garcia recalled in an interview with BloodyElbow. “You could hear the thump. The noise he made … he had to have used the restroom in his pants. It was like a screech, with a little bit of a burp, and something else [laughs]. Then he jumped up and took off at a full sprint.”
While this was going on, Garcia strolled over and spoke to the man’s friend who was parked nearby, who apparently wanted nothing to do with the situation, acknowledging that he knew who Cerrone and Garcia were and said, “I’m not trying to fight, I’m not stupid like my friend.”
Crashing His Truck
While being filmed for an upcoming edition of FOX’s ‘Road To The Octagon’ series just weeks before a fight with Tim Means in early 2016, Cerrone managed to flip his pick-up truck onto its roof in a snowy field near his home in New Mexico.
Soon after, Cerrone posted a picture of the vehicle alongside the caption, “Coming in hot!!”
Apparently ‘Cowboy’ survived unscathed, however, as he still showed up for training as usual later that day.
“Yes everyone, I’m okay,” Cerrone stated on Instagram. “Rolled truck and still made all my workouts for the day. My truck’s hurt, not me. Have no fear, I will still make my fight.”
The Backstage Fight
Cerrone attended an Evolution Combat Sports event in October of 2010 with his girlfriend at the time to oversee several of his Jackson’s MMA teammates who were competing that night.
However, backstage Cerrone bumped into the heavyweight fighter competing in the main event, Marcus Sursa, who just so happened to be his partner’s ex-boyfriend.
Things soon turned heated between the two fighters, leading to a shoving match and then Cerrone punching Sursa, leaving him with a cut above his eye, while during the brawl ‘Cowboy’ was also left with a bloodied lip.
The fight was soon broken up, but the laceration Sursa suffered led to him being forced out of the evening’s headliner just hours before it was scheduled to take place.
Two UFC Fights In Two Weeks
Inside the cage, Cerrone has always been known as a fighter who will fight any time, any place, but he took that a step further in 2015 when he did something that very few other fighters can claim to have done – undertaking two fights in the UFC in the space of just 15 days.
The first came on January 3rd against Myles Jury, and it wasn’t just a quick finish either, going the full 15 minutes before emerging with a unanimous decision victory.
It hadn’t been the most exciting fight, and so Cerrone vowed to fight again as soon as possible in his interview afterward, and sure enough, Dana White called him the next day, revealing that an opportunity to step in as a late replacement for Eddie Alvarez against Ben Henderson in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 59 just two weeks later had arisen.
White advised ‘Cowboy’ to take time off to recover rather than accept the fight, but though, he’d actually fought Henderson twice before in the WEC promotion and lost on both occasions, he never hesitated to agree to a trilogy fight between them.
“I wouldn’t take this fight on short notice if I wasn’t a complete…loon and if I didn’t think I could beat him,” Cerrone told the media later. “I’m excited, and I’m confident.”
Cerrone was riding a six-fight winning streak at the time and his snap decision to take the fight proved to be the right call as he would go on to win by decision, putting himself on the brink of title contention at 155 pounds.
Cerrone’s most recent brush with death came just within this past month when he went cave diving in New Mexico and almost didn’t make it back out.
“Today I can honestly say I’m Happy to be alive,” Cerrone wrote on Instagram. “We had catastrophic worst case scenario on our dive. Total silt out , lost the cave line and lost my buddy couldn’t see my own hands was the most scariest moment to this day in my life.”
According to Cerrone, it was the thought of seeing his fiance and son again that spurred him on to find a way out of this nightmare scenario.
“I remember kissing Danger and Lindsay and saying I’ll see y’all soon, don’t worry daddy’s coming home!!!! Told the grim reaper “Not today Mother Fucker,“ I’m figuring this the fuck out and coming home!!”