While he didn’t hide the fact his retirement was approaching, Cerrone (36-17-1 MMA, 29-17-1 UFC) fibbed about just how soon he planned to hang up the gloves. So when he took off his cowboy hat and gloves in the center of the cage after his loss to Jim Miller at T-Mobile Arena, an audible rumble built from the crowd.
It was a sound of bittersweet (and somewhat selfish) disappointment from fans who grew to adore a fighter who competed nearly 50 times under the UFC and WEC banners. It was also a sound of appreciation.
The fans weren’t the only ones dealing with contradictory feelings. At a post-fight news conference, Cerrone explained the weird mix of emotions even though he’s known since January his next fight would be his last.
“This sport is crazy. It’s the highest highs and the lowest lows,” Cerrone told MMA Junkie and other reporters. “I just feel probably the best I’ve felt in my career at my lowest right now, if that makes any sense. It was important for me to go out with Joe (Rogan) and Bruce (Buffer) in the cage. I started with them. It’s such an iconic thing here in Vegas.”
Overall, Cerrone described the overarching feeling as relief. There is a weight off his shoulders now that his professional fighting career is finally behind him.
“I feel like the biggest sigh of relief I’ve ever had in my life,” Cerrone said. “Like, ‘Ho-ha, we’re done.’ Now it’s off to the next chapter. I’ll be back. I’ll come hang out and watch fights, talk to the young generation about all the things I should’ve, would’ve, could’ve, should’ve done, and maybe I’ll get an itch in two years. Who knows? Any time soon? Hell to the no. I’m going off to make some movies. I’ve got race cars I’ve got to race next weekend. We’ll get in a race car and go play and go to the lake house with my wife.”
At UFC 276, Cerrone lost by submission and subsequently ended his career. But the crowd ovation, the moment, and the people made up for it. Cerrone said Saturday is tied with his UFC signing for his favorite career moment.
“I must’ve done something right along my career somewhere to get the crowd to love me as they do,” Cerrone said. “Thank you to everyone so much who’s been there and supported me. Even those who haven’t supported me, they keep you hungry, too. The guys who are sitting at home making messages on your thing. They help motivate me also. Thank you to you (media), as well.”