"I could never look myself in the mirror if somebody paid me to take a dive"
'Cowboy' has also confirmed that he is coming into his January bout determined to stand and swing.
At the age of 36, and with 36 Mixed Martial Arts victories to his name, Donald Cerrone is set for the biggest fight of his career.
Of all the men vying to be the opponent for Conor McGregor's comeback fight, Cerrone got the golden ticket and will earn his biggest ever pay-cheque for stepping forward as dance partner for 'The Notorious' at UFC 246.
Having snapped the mould for UFC 244, in November, and leading a pay-per-view with a non-title fight, Dana White & Co. are championing the biggest names and match-ups. Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz fought for the B.M.F belt at Madison Square Garden but it is not a rankings title and we may never see it again.
McGregor and Cerrone face off in a non-title fight that is very much the UFC 246 headliner and what of it. As long as fans get the fights they have been craving, few will care if there is a belt to be strapped around the victors' waist at the end.
What does appear to be up for grabs, for McGregor at least, is a title shot in both the 155 and 170lb divisions should he get the win over Cerrone. Masvidal is also in the frame but one imagines McGregor would need a victory to get to the Floridian too.
Indeed, defeat for McGregor opens up the possibility of him walking away from MMA for good. He is without a win in the UFC since he defeated Eddie Alvarez back in November 2016 [albeit he took a gap year in the world of professional boxing].
As for Cerrone, an impressive win over McGregor could finally earn him another crack at a world title. His last title fight was against Rafael Dos Anjos - for the lightweight strap - in 2015 but he was stopped just over a minute into the first round. He then lost a No.1 contender bout with Tony Ferguson, snapping a three-fight winning streak, in June 2019. Beat McGregor and Cerrone could conceivably call out welterweight champion Kamaru Usman or tempt Masvidal to bring his B.M.F belt out to play.
Ahead of his January 18 bout against McGregor in Las Vegas, Cerrone [36-13 in his career] did not shy away from suggestions that he has been lined up as an eminently beatable opponent for the Dubliner.
"Hell no, I’m not bowing down," Donald Cerrone told MMA Fighting.
"There’s a bunch of sh** going around, people keep telling me, 'I heard you’re getting paid to take a dive'. There wouldn’t be enough money in the world for someone to pay me to take a dive. I could never look myself in the mirror if somebody paid me to take a dive. Sh**, never happen.
"I’d rather fight for free than take money to f***ing lose. That’s not me. I’m going to fight my ass off like I do every time."
Meanwhile, the full, 13-fight card for the PPV has been finalised. Here is how it will all play out:
UFC 246 fight card
- Welterweight: Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
- Women's Bantamweight: Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
- Heavyweight: Aleksei Oleinik vs. Maurice Greene
- Women's Strawweight: Cláudia Gadelha vs. Alexa Grasso
- Lightweight: Anthony Pettis vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira
- Women's Flyweight: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Maycee Barber
- Featherweight: Andre Fili vs. Sodiq Yusuff
- Lightweight: Nasrat Haqparast vs. Drew Dober
- Featherweight: Grant Dawson vs. Chas Skelly
- Light heavyweight: Aleksa Camur vs. Justin Ledet
- Flyweight: Tim Elliott vs. Askar Askarov
- Bantamweight: Brian Kelleher vs. Ode Osbourne
- Women's Flyweight: Sabina Mazo vs. JJ Aldrich