Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone joins 2023 UFC Hall of Fame class
If ever there were a fighter who never won a world title but deserves to be in the UFC Hall of Fame, it’s Donald Cerrone.
That’s exactly where he’ll land this summer, because “Cowboy” is the latest name to join the 2023 UFC Hall of Fame class.
The promotion announced during Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 43 broadcast in San Antonio that Cerrone (36-17 MMA, 23-14 UFC), who for many years held UFC records for fights, wins, finishes and bonuses, will be enshrined during the UFC Hall of Fame ceremony during July’s International Fight Week festivities in Las Vegas.
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Photos: Best of Donald Cerrone
Cerrone, 39, made his octagon debut in February 2011 after a notable run under the now-defunct WEC banner, where he unsuccessfully challenged for the belt. His tenure with the organization started strong, because Cerrone won six of his first seven UFC fights.
From there, the American would go on to be the most active and arguably most exciting fighters on the roster for the better part of a decade. Cerrone picked up notable wins over Charles Oliveira, Jeremy Stephens, Edson Barboza, Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller, Benson Henderson en route to his first UFC title shot.
An eight-fight winning streak built Cerrone up to a chance to challenge then-champ Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt at UFC on FOX 17 in December 2015, but it did not go his way. Cerrone fell short with a 66-second TKO loss, a result which formed a career-long narrative that he struggled to get over the hump in the biggest fights.
Cerrone made a run in the welterweight division that featured more memorable wins and finishes, but the results started to taper off in 2017. Cerrone would register just four wins over the final 15 bouts of his career, including a seven-fight winless skid leading up to his retirement fight at UFC 276 in July 2022.
“I’m not complaining to anybody, but I don’t love it anymore,” Cerrone said after a loss in his final bout. “I’m going to be a movie star, baby. It’s time to bow out. I’ve got to know when. … Hopefully one day, I’m in the (UFC) Hall of Fame. Thank you so much, UFC.”
That skid, however, included defeats to some of the most recognizable figures in MMA history, including Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson and Anthony Pettis.
Cerrone’s rough ending to his career didn’t take away from his impact, though. His activity level and fighting style motivated a generation who wanted to “be like ‘Cowboy’,” and now he’ll be recognized for his contributions in the UFC Hall of Fame.
At the time of his induction announcement, Cerrone has the third-most fights in UFC history (38), tied for second-most wins (23), tied for second-most finishes (16), and tied for the most bonuses (18).
Cerrone joins Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo and Jens Pulver as members of the 2023 UFC Hall of Fame.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 43.
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