We have an incredible preliminary main event this coming weekend at UFC 249, as Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone once again squares off with Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis. Their first bout ended quite quickly, as ‘Showtime’ finished ‘Cowboy’ off via KO (body kick) just 2:35 into the first round. Each of them have had a great amount of success since, and each have also had quite a few downfalls since. The way these two match up with one another, it’s almost surprising they haven’t had a rematch, until now that is. Though Pettis finished Cerrone in convincing fashion the first time, this is one of those fights where if they fought ten times, it’s likely they’d each win five of them.
At the time of their first encounter, they were both on the rise. This time, they’re both headed toward the end of their careers, or so it would seem. Pettis’ win over Cerrone marked Cerrone’s first knockout defeat, it was very surprising to most. Pettis was 15-2, and Cerrone was 19-4 (1 NC) in professional mixed martial arts competition; Pettis was just 2-1 in the UFC, while Cerrone was 6-1 with the promotion. Of course, ‘Cowboy’ has always been the most active fighter out there. Though Pettis went on to win and defend the UFC Lightweight Championship, it may be safe to say that Cerrone’s seen the most success since. ‘Cowboy’ has gone 17-9 since and is 4-7 in his last eleven, while ‘Showtime’ has gone 6-8 since and is 4-8 in his last twelve.
However, just because they’ve each lost a good amount recently doesn’t mean they haven’t had good wins in between. ‘Showtime’ submitted Charles Oliveira and Michael Chiesa, and also became to first, and still the only person to ever knock Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson out. ‘Wonderboy’ is one of the best strikers to ever compete in the sport with multiple black belts and a perfect 57-0 kickboxing record (37-0 amateur, 20-0 professional). Pettis got the KO victory at 4:55 of round two, plus submitting Chiesa, and especially Oliveira is absolutely remarkable.
‘Cowboy’ went 1-1 in his next two before going on an eight-fight win streak, which awarded him a shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship against then champion Rafael dos Anjos, the man to most recently defeat him at that point. Dos Anjos finished Cerrone via TKO just 66 seconds into the fight. ‘Cowboy’ then moved up to welterweight for the first time in his career and quickly racked up a 4-0 record from February to December 2016. This saw him submit Alex Oliveira, and become the first man to ever finish Patrick ‘The Predator’ Cote, Rick ‘The Horror’ Story, or Matt ‘The Immortal’ Brown via knockout.
Brown had been finished via TKO (body kick) in his fight prior against Jake Ellenberger, and that was the only knockout loss in his career, but he’d never been finished from a strike to his chin. Cerrone’s head kick was timed perfectly, and it was over 44 seconds into round three. It’s pretty insane he was able to finish Cote and Story as well. Cote has fought as high as light-heavyweight; he fought Tito Ortiz in his UFC debut when he was just 5-0, who couldn’t finish him, and he previously challenged Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
‘The Predator’ was also on a three-fight win streak going into his fight with ‘Cowboy’, as was ‘The Horror’. Story was a very tough, durable, talented prospect with wins over Johny Hendricks, Thiago Alves while Alves was still incredibly dangerous, and he’d also just recently handed Gunnar Nelson his first loss.
It was insanely impressive that Cerrone was able to go on a streak like he did that quickly in a weight class above. He then went 2-4 in his next six before dropping back down to lightweight. He defeated Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta once returning, but dropped his last three to Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, and Conor McGregor. Many people believe he’s done, that there’s no more to give in his career, but those three are literally the number two, three, and four guys in the lightweight division.
Donald Cerrone (36-14) 1 NC vs. Anthony Pettis (22-10) II
These two having a history makes this fight intriguing, but the most intriguing part of it is how they match up together, as well as it being contested at welterweight this time around. Cerrone boasts a 6-4 record at welterweight, while Pettis is 1-1 in the division thus far. They’re both very accomplished strikers, with ‘Cowboy’ being 28-0-1 with 19 knockouts in professional kickboxing, and ‘Showtime’ being a third degree black belt in Taekwondo.
They’re also both black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, they’ve always been great grapplers. It’s funny, despite Cerrone’s kickboxing background, he didn’t get a knockout win in mixed martial arts competition until his sixteenth win, and now he has the most head kick knockouts in UFC history. Pettis is also keen on throwing head kicks, having three knockout victories from them, and two body kick knockouts to his credit. Twelve of Cerrone’s first fifteen wins were submissions, and three were decisions. Pettis started his career out a bit differently, picking up his first eight wins via knockout, before scoring his first submission victory in his WEC debut.
Most of their submissions come from their guard as well, actually all of Pettis’ have. Seven of Pettis’ wins come via submission: three triangle chokes, one armbar, one triangle armbar, and two guillotine chokes. Seventeen of Cerrone’s wins come via submission: eight triangle chokes, four armbars, and five rear naked chokes. They’ve also each been submitted just one time; Pettis in his most recent outing, a defeat to Carlos Diego Ferreira via rear naked choke, and Cerrone back in 2010 in his second title fight with Benson Henderson via guillotine choke.
Another thing that makes this fight so intriguing is the fact that they have ten common opponents. They both finished Danny Castillo in the first round, Cerrone via submission (armbar), Pettis via KO (head kick). They’ve both defeated Benson Henderson, Pettis has a 2-0 record against him, winning both the WEC and UFC Lightweight Championships against him. Cerrone fought Henderson twice in the WEC, each time for a belt, losing both fights, though their first fight could’ve easily went either way. He could’ve been the interim WEC Lightweight Champion, but it wasn’t in the cards. Cerrone fought Henderson for a third time almost five years later in the UFC and won via unanimous decision, making his record against Henderson 1-2.
They both defeated Jeremy Stephens via decision, Cerrone’s was unanimous, Pettis’ was split. They both lost to Rafael dos Anjos, Pettis lost his UFC Lightweight Championship to him via unanimous decision in one of the most one-sided title fights in UFC history. Cerrone lost to to him via unanimous decision the first time they fought, and was finished via TKO the second time around.
Cerrone defeated Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza, both defeated Pettis via split and unanimous decision. They both defeated Charles Oliveira, Cerrone via TKO, Pettis via submission. They both defeated Jim Miller, Cerrone via KO (head kick), Pettis via unanimous decision. They were both defeated by Tony Ferguson via TKO (corner and doctor stoppage) at the end of round two, and they were both defeated by Nate Diaz via unanimous decision.
Neither of these two have ever lost more than three fights in a row either. ‘Cowboy’ lost his last three, and Pettis will have lost his last three should he lose to Cerrone in this rematch. With ‘Cowboy’ standing 6’1” with a 73” reach, and ‘Showtime’ standing 5’10” with a 72.5” inch reach, they not only match up together well stylistically, but physically as well. Cerrone also turned 37-years-old in March, while Pettis turned 33-years-old in January. Who do you see walking away the victor this time around?