Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans has witnessed the growth of Donald Cerrone closer than most others, as “Suga” was a former teammate of “Cowboy” at Greg Jackson’s camp. And, while Evans has since left New Mexico for Florida, he continues to watch with amazement at the progress of Cerrone.
Cerrone, who has signed to face Nate Diaz in the co-main event of UFC 141 in December, is riding a six-fight win streak. Already this year, Cerrone has defeated four opponents inside the Octagon, putting himself in talks for a shot at the UFC lightweight championship.
“I definitely think Cerrone can win the title. I love to watch the way he’s grown in the sport,” said Evans, in a recent interview with ESPN. “To watch his growth is ridiculous. I sit and watch how good he’s got and I get chills. He’d practice all day long. He’d practice, eat, take a nap, then practice some more.”
Cerrone has stopped three of his last six opponents by submission, recording tap-out victories over Dennis Siver, Paul Kelly and Chris Horodecki. He has also defeated Charles Oliveira, Vagner Rocha and Jamie Varner since a loss to Ben Henderson for the WEC title in early 2010.
“I remember when he first came to Jackson’s gym, he had virtually no wrestling at all – zero wrestling. And his ground was so-so. He was all stand-up,” Evans said. “Donald’s (now) a leader too. He’s got his guys, but he’s the leader. The work he puts in is paying off.”
Cerrone-Diaz takes place December 30 from Las Vegas, Nevada and will be available on pay-per-view. Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem will fill the main event slot for the night.