Will Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone Get Conor McGregor or a UFC Title Shot?

Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone holds his infant son after defeating Al Iaquinta at UFC Fight Night in Ottawa.
Photo credit USA Today Sports

By Pete Hoffman

Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone is a man on a mission.

The 36-year-old fan favorite bumped his record total to 23 career wins in UFC with a dominant victory over the highly ranked Al Iaquinta on Saturday night at UFC Ottawa. It was Cowboy's second consecutive win after he begged UFC to let him return to the lightweight division.

After the fight, Cerrone reiterated his desire for a title shot -- though he said he would not turn down a big-money fight against Conor McGregor in July. Can he pull off both: taking out McGregor on the way to a title shot?

It's unlikely McGregor, who is too wrapped up in his ongoing contract dispute, takes the bait. More realistic is seeing Cerrone get the winner of a bout between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim title-holder Dustin Poirier, unofficially scheduled for Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi.

At this late stage in his career, with 48 fights under his belt, two things appear to be behind Cerrone's newfound focus on championship gold: the birth of his son, Dacson Danger, and a near-death experience while cave diving. He looks like a man among boys in the lightweight division, and there is no better time to see him face the best in the world.

A quick look at what's next for some of Saturday night's other winners and losers:

Al Iaquinta (lost to Cerrone via unanimous decision): The 32-year-old real estate agent from Long Island ran into a wrecking ball. Cerrone beat him on almost every exchange, and Iaquinta never seemed to find any sort of rhythm. "Raging Al" never withered, though, getting back up after being knocked down to the mat for the first time in his UFC career. This is just a minor setback. Don't be surprised to see Iaquinta return in early November at Madison Square Garden versus Edson Barbosa, Justin Gaethje or Paul Felder.

Derek Brunson (beat Elias Theodorao via unanimous decision): The talented 35-year-old middleweight from North Carolina with surefire knockout power finally showed up in a spotlight fight, completely dismantling the Canadian native Theodorou. This time, it was not his striking that Brunson put on display, it was his wrestling skills that made the difference. He seemed to toss Theodorou around with ease. Brunson is always hanging around the middle of the division rankings. Maybe this performance pushes him into a title contender fight against Kelvin Gastelum or Yoel Romero in what is turning into a stacked middleweight division.

Shane Burgos (beat Cub Swanson via unanimous decision): "Hurricane Shane" announced himself in a major way. The 28-year-old Bronx native took down one of the most storied featherweights in UFC history. Swanson, a five-time UFC "fight of the night" winner and one-half of the 2016 Fight of the Year, came in at No. 10 in the featherweight rankings. Burgos should crack the top 15 for the first time in his young career. He shouted out his wife and daughter rather than calling out an opponent, as most other fighters do. But Yair Rodriguez, Josh Emmett or Jeremy Stephens would make interesting matchups for the brawler.

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