Eagle County fighters featured in UFC event
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Two local mixed martial arts fighters are hitting the big time and whoever is in front of them.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Erik “Goya” Perez will step into the cage for Saturday’s UFC 150 event in Denver’s Pepsi Center.
Cerrone and Melvin “Young Assassin” Guillard are the main event, fighting in the lightweight division – 155 pounds – but there’s nothing light about the way they punish opponents.
Cerrone is a submission specialist. Guillard ia a knockout artist.
They’ve been friends, brothers and training partners for years. When they bell runs tonight they’ll be enemies.
“Is the friendship going to compromise the fight? Certainly not. It doesn’t mean I’m going to hit him less because I know him,” Cerrone said during a UFC prefight interview.
The two are close friends and in years past trained together as often as three times a week. Their birthdays are one day apart than they’ve celebrated them together.
“I know his wife, I know his dogs. We still have that camaraderie. We’re still brothers, but at the end of the day I can knock anybody out,” Guillard said.
Cowboy drifts home
When it came time for Cerrone to get serious about training for the fight, he returned to his roots with Jason Field and Inyodo Martial Arts in Edwards and Eagle.
When we caught up with Ceronne, he was cutting weight, from 189 pounds to his fighting weight, 155 pounds, which means he really was being kept in a cage for a week and not fed in three days.
Cerrone and his training partners get one chicken breast a day and all the raw veggies they can eat. He was carrying about 176 pounds.
The goal is to slip through the window of opportunity at 155 pounds during weigh-in day before the fight, then bounce back up to around 176 for the fight, Field said.
They’ve been through this before. Ceronne is 29 years old and has been training with Inyodo Martial Arts for nine years and has an 18-4 record.
One day nine years ago, Field got a call from a fight promoter in Colorado Springs about this tough young kid – untrained but uninhibited. That’s code for wading through sparring sessions busting heads.
Could Field work with him a little?
Yes, Field could.
Cerrone moved into their spare room and began to train. Field and his wife Kim took Cerrone in with the admonition that if he gets in any trouble, they’re done.
Cerrone lived with Jason and Kim for four years – no problems.
That wasn’t always the case.
There was this one time when Cerrone was invited to fight as the birthday entertainment for the king of Thailand. A few days later he was invited to fight on UFC’s television show “The Ultimate Fighter.”
He decided to say thanks but no thanks to the king and try “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Except, a youthful indiscretion popped up when they ran a background check and he didn’t get to do either.
So Cerrone started fighting professionally and his career has soared.
Local guys do good
If you don’t follow UFC, you might not know that Cerrone, Perez and Kyle Noke are famous.
Cerrone was sitting in some cowboy bar in Denver and was getting a little bored. He Tweeted that he was there and less than an hour later there was a line out the door.
It hasn’t been that way for long, and it doesn’t last. A professional athlete’s earning potential is short-lived. He gets that.
Three years ago Field was training him for one of his first UFC fights and Cerrone had to pay him in wood. It was really nice wood, Brazilan hardwood for Field’s floors, but wood nonetheless.
A top UFC fighter like Cerrone can make $200,000 a fight, but you don’t get to fight often. Still, it’s a long way from paying with wood.
He can’t train in a place like Las Vegas; he’s mobbed everywhere he goes, so he comes home.
“We can’t walk through the lobby. We have to take the service elevator,” Field said.
Cerrone is still training pretty much the same way, mostly – three times a day. Boxing and kickboxing in the morning, sprints in the afternoon and jiu jitsu at night with Inyodo.
“He still with the same people,” Field said. “We watched him get beat, the way we all get beat. Now he’s this phenomenon. Sometimes we sit around the mat and reminisce about how far he’s come.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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