Before Donald Cerrone earned himself a fight against Conor McGregor, he was busy just earning a paycheck. But while some UFC fighters were baristas or Olympians before they joined the UFC, Cerrone did something just as dangerous as fighting in the UFC. Here’s how Cerrone’s first job made him into the fighter he is today.
Donald Cerrone’s early life
Cerrone may be better known by his nickname, “Cowboy,” these days. But, according to The Las Vegas Sun, he grew up in a relatively normal middle-class home. However, while his home was normal, he was anything but. As MMAjunkie explains, Cerrone grew up chasing anything that went “boom or bang.”
Cerrone did it all, whether it involved mountain biking, rock climbing, or four-wheeling. He didn’t just chase adrenaline in the outdoors; he also did it at school. During his sophomore year of high school, Cerrone started fighting alongside his friend. He told MMAjunkie he was pretty good in those school fights and that he was a fair fighter who followed a set of rules.
As he explained, fighting was normal where he grew up as there weren’t many guns or knives available. However, when Cerrone moved to Denver, he began spending short stints in jail for fighting too much. While his street fighting may seem like a natural way to transition into the UFC, Cerrone did something else after he got expelled from multiple high schools.
How Cerrone became a real cowboy
One of the many activities Cerrone did growing up was riding bulls, reports MMAjunkie. He’s always wanted to own a ranch and be a cowboy, according to the Las Vegas Sun. So, when Cerrone was about 16 years old, he pursued the dream full-time. The fighter traveled across many states, like Wyoming and South Dakota, competing in rodeos whenever he could.
This was a hard life in many ways. On some days, the bull could injure or harm him; on other days, he lived “paycheck to paycheck,” as Cerrone said. He wasn’t bad at it either. He earned himself a place in the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, which is just a level below the big leagues, where cowboys are paid millions of dollars for competing.
However, while he enjoyed being a cowboy, Cerrone eventually quit it to pursue fighting. While the rodeo life was behind him, he is still a cowboy at heart.
Donald Cerrone’s cowboy mindset
When Cerrone began training in MMA, he kept the same mindset he had as a cowboy. As he told MMAjunkie, “I’m not doing it because I want to be the best in the world; I’m doing it because I’m enjoying the [expletive] out of it.”
Another way that Cerrone’s earlier life chasing rodeos has affected him has to do with his toughness. Not only is a bull as dangerous as a UFC fighter but pretty much everything Cerrone did growing up could’ve caused him serious harm. As Cerrone told MMAjunkie, he was even declared dead at one point after an off-roading accident.
Despite the accident as well as the many other times he’s been hurt either riding bulls or doing dangerous things, Cerrone keeps doing what he loves. That’s one of the reasons why Cerrone is a fan favorite. He fights so often because he simply loves it. For example, McGregor joined the UFC in 2013, and he’s had 12 fights since then. Cerrone has had 25 fights during the same timespan.
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