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Cowboy’ is more than a nickname to UFC 137’s Donald Cerrone

Cerrone faces Dennis Siver in a lightweight matchup between two fighters on winning streaks

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Sam Morris

Donald Cerrone talks to reporters during the open media workout in advance of UFC 137 on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2011. Cerrone will face Dennis Siver in a lightweight bout.

UFC 137 Open Workout

Nick Diaz talks to reporters during the open media workout in advance of UFC 137 Wednesday, October 25, 2011. Diaz will face B.J. Penn in a welterweight bout. Launch slideshow »

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Everyone has a different definition for what constitutes as a cowboy. Donald Cerrone seems to fit every separate piece of criteria.

A pessimistic view of a cowboy would be a country-lovin’ male who occupies his time fightin’, cussin’ and drinkin’. Cerrone would proudly brag about his exploits in each of those categories.

A more traditional description would be someone at peace with nature who lives rurally and grazes cattle and other animals. Cerrone does all of that, too.

The man who everyone around the UFC knows as “Cowboy” lives up to his moniker.

“I train every day and do what I love,” Cerrone said Wednesday at the UFC 137 open workouts. “I live a wild and crazy life. It’s definitely helped find me.”

Cerrone, who fights Dennis Siver in a lightweight bout with title implications Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, has lived on a 10-acre ranch 30 miles outside Albuquerque, N.M., for the past two years.

Cerrone spends his days there raising his own livestock — cows, goats and pigs, to name a few — and training in a full-size gym in the backyard alongside best friend and UFC featherweight Leonard Garcia.

“Cowboy” said purchasing the “TapOut Ranch” was a dream come true and living on it has helped him find his soul.

“I remember being a kid and saying, ‘One day, I’m going to have a ranch. One day, one day, one day,’” Cerrone reflected. “And now I’m fighting in the UFC. I’m here making the money and that one day is here. I can finally go get those things that I want.”

Cerrone wasn’t always that way. He was born in Colorado Springs, Colo., and enjoyed a fairly normal middle class upbringing.

Cerrone was what Garcia called “a city slicker”.

“I’ve been in the cowboy lifestyle from birth,” Garcia explained. “I was born and raised on the ranch and wore cowboy boots my whole life. When I met him, he was a cowboy. I didn’t know anything about his background. As we got to know each other, I was stunned he was a city slicker. We think it’s comical now. He’s even more cowboy than I am now and that’s my life. That’s the only thing I know.”

Cerrone’s introduction to the country way of life came when he was a child. He went to stay with his grandparents on their elk ranch and became infatuated with its environment.

It wasn’t until more than 10 years later that he met Garcia, who remembers ignoring numerous warnings that could have been taken straight out of western movie.

Everyone told Garcia that Cerrone was “trouble” or “a bad guy” and to stay away from him as they started to become closer friends and trained together more frequently. But Garcia related to Cerrone and felt he was misunderstood.

They developed a bond and now refer to each other as brothers. They spent a lot of time together daydreaming of getting to the point where they are today.

“Living at the ranch is exactly what we said we always wanted to do,” Garcia said. “It’s almost surreal. It’s everything we’ve ever wanted or said we were going to do and we’re doing it.”

One staple characteristic of all cowboys is loyalty. That might explain why Cerrone lashed out Wednesday.

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Nam Phan, right, fights Leonard Garcia in a featherweight bout where Phan won in three rounds before the UFC 136 lightweight title bout with Gray "The Bully" Maynard and Frankie "The Answer" Edgar at Toyota Center Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, in Houston.

Although a victory over Siver would put Cerrone a fight or two away from a championship bout at lightweight, “Cowboy” said he planned to drop to featherweight after UFC 137. He wants to make the cut to 145 pounds for one fight — a matchup with Nam Phan, who beat Garcia in the UFC 136 Fight of the Night.

The pairing doesn’t make much sense as Cerrone has established himself as a top UFC lightweight since winning three in a row after the WEC merger, while Phan is a middling featherweight at 1-2 in the promotion.

But none of that makes a difference to Cerrone, who called the matchup “guaranteed” after Phan allegedly disrespected his team.

“(Phan) said if our coaches were any good, they would have taught Leonard to throw straight punches,” Cerrone said. “But they don’t know Leonard. You can teach Leonard one thing and still he continues to turn into that wild caveman. That’s just how he fights. Nam just wants to talk (expletive), so I’ll show him what our training looks like.”

Garcia said he had no ill feelings and laughed off the suggestion of Cerrone vs. Phan. But Garcia understood Cerrone’s anger. That’s just the way he is.

Cerrone also managed to insult Siver, calling the German kick boxer a “one trick pony” for his feared spinning back kick. Cerrone is outspoken and willing to stand behind his words.

That’s part of the cowboy in Cerrone.

“I just fell in love with the cowboy way of life,” Cerrone said.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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