Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone has been competing as a professional MMA fighter for over 20 years, and in the UFC Octagon since 2011. While he’s never held a UFC belt (not even an interim one), coming up short in his only title shot against then lightweight king Raphael dos Anjos in 2015, Cerrone has remained among the MMA elite for his entire career. He has consistently been ranked in the Top 20 fighters in the world at lightweight or welterweight since his third UFC fight, a first round stoppage over Charles Oliveira, and has reached as high as #2 at 155 lbs and #5 at 170. He is also the winningest and the most active fighter in UFC history.
Last year, we published an article musing on who will be the first UFC fighter to achieve 30 fights in the promotion, and did a follow-up piece a few months later. Since then, Cowboy went from 27 UFC bouts at the time of the first article, to the current record of 32. So despite a disappointing loss to Tony Ferguson at UFC 238, Cerrone remains a legend of the Octagon and a future lock for the UFC hall of fame.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at Donald’s accomplishments (striking statistics courtesy of UFCStats.com).
Cerrone firmly holds this record with 23 wins – three ahead of the three-way tie for the second place between Michael Bisping, Georges St. Pierre, and Demian Maia. With Bisping and GSP retired, and 41-year-old Maia realistically not having many miles left in the tank, Cowboy will likely hold on to this record for a while – and pull even further away from the pack.
Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone are tied for the first place here, with 32 Octagon appearances a piece. Again, Cowboy is likely to soon be the sole record holder – even though Jim Miller is a year younger, he has been fighting for a year longer, and is the far more shopworn and less active fighter of the two. Beyond them, we have the retired Bisping and the seemingly everlasting Maia, Diego Sanchez, and Andrei Arlovski sharing the second place with 29 UFC fights each.
As only less than a third of Cowboy’s fights have gone the distance, he is not quite as high on this list despite his 32 UFC bouts. Nonetheless he sits at a respectable #12, and is one of only fourteen fighters with more than five hours spent locked inside the the Octagon with just his opponent and the referee!
This record has been growing fast in recent years, with several 10+ active win streaks at the moment. Tony Ferguson just made it twelve in a row with his TKO win over Cerrone. Cowboy lags a bit here, tied for number eight having won eight straight between 2013 and 2015, leading up to his one and only UFC title shot. Cerrone’s win streak included former & future lightweight champions Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez, as well as Edson Barboza and Jim Miller among other notables. Not bad at all!
Similar to ‘Most Wins’, Donald Cerrone is running away with the record in this category at combined 18 performance bonuses, with Nate Diaz & Joe Lauzon tied for the second place at 15 and Charles Oliveira & Anderson Silva in third with 14. Given the recent activity level of Diaz, Silva, and Lauzon, only ‘Do Bronx’ has a realistic chance of catching up. The third place is a five-way tie with 10 bonuses, a very long way from eventually matching or beating Cerrone’s record.
With six ‘FOTN’ bonuses, Cowboy shares the third place with seven other fighters – a few of them his former opponents. Ahead of Cerrone are Nate Diaz with eight bonuses, and Frankie Edgar & Joe Lauzon with seven each. This record is certainly within reach for Donald.
Cowboy shares the fourth place in this now defunct category with three ‘KOTN’ bonuses. These have since been replaced by the UFC with ‘Performance of the Night’. Four of Cerrone’s seven POTNs also stemmed from KO/TKOs.
Though he has never held the UFC gold, Cerrone was once the lineal lightweight champion, after defeating Eddie Alvarez in Eddie’s UFC debut. Cowboy successfully defended this unofficial title three times, before passing it on to Rafael dos Anjos.
Other Achievements (among active UFC fighters only)
- Most knockdowns landed (20)
- Most total significant strikes landed (1518, second to Max Holloway with 1808)
- Most total strikes landed – eighth place (1697)
Prior to Zuffa buying out WEC and merging it with UFC, Cerrone went 6-3 (1 NC) in the now defunct promotion best known for boosting the popularity of lighter weight divisions. He holds the record for most ‘Fight of the Night’ awards in WEC history, with five of his 10 fights receiving the honors.