EDGEWOOD, N.M. — Donald Cerrone leans back in his recliner, rubs his beard and ponders a question. “The most painful thing I’ve ever felt?” he repeats. “Hmm …”
Cerrone is nestled in a corner of the gym on his BMF ranch, a 40-acre training complex just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cerrone — also known as “Cowboy” — methodically works his way through the list of possible answers. That time he tore his groin bull riding? “No, not that one,” he says.
Or when he lost half of his intestines in an ATV accident? “Nah … that was scary, though,” he says.
When he almost severed his right ring finger in a wakeboarding incident? “Nope, but you can see how mangled my finger is,” he says, holding up a digit and wiggling it so that it looks as if it’s making a left turn to avoid the rest of his hand.
The UFC’s most durable fighter — Cerrone, 36, will break the UFC career record for most fights with his 34th bout when he steps into the cage against Conor McGregor at UFC 246 on Saturday in Las Vegas — spends a full two minutes trying to reply to a question that most of us could answer without hesitating. MMA fighters tend to geek out about human body stories the way golfers talk club selection or offensive coordinators scribble plays on napkins. And few fighters have lived the kind of life that Cerrone has, in and out of the cage, so it makes sense that he needs some time to retrieve the perfect answer from his large injury database.
Suddenly, his eyes light up and he sits forward in his chair. “Ooh, I got it …”
Before he can finish, Cerrone pauses and braces for Danger. Cerrone’s hands drift from his beard to his groin, a move even non-cage-fighting dads recognize as survival mode when a toddler is in the vicinity. Cerrone’s 18-month-old son, Dacson — who goes by his middle name, Danger — is closing in fast, dragging a big silver chain that clanks across the floor and announces his presence throughout the gym. He has pulled it off one of the all-terrain vehicles parked nearby and now he’s hurtling toward his dad — and the kind of shot that would get a point deduction in the UFC.