As far as heartbreaking fight cancellations go, there have been few this year that even come close to that of Donald Cerrone vs. Robbie Lawler. We were so upset that we didn’t even cover the story, hoping that the time-tested method of shutting one’s eyes to the facts and screaming “NO-NO-NO LALALALA!!” at the top of our lungs would once again prevail. Even Cerrone admitted that “the fan in him died a little” when he was personally told by Lawler that the fight wouldn’t be happening at UFC 205, lamenting that “Something must be off, because Robbie isn’t a guy that just doesn’t show up to fight. He’s one of the last dying breeds. Something must really be an issue, and I don’t know what it is.”
Now I’m no scientist, Donald, but I’m going to guess it has to do with the skull-shattering knockout Lawler suffered like six weeks ago. And the three million punches he took to the head before that. Regardless, it would obviously be in the UFC’s best interests to keep Cerrone on the Madison Square Garden card if they want a guaranteed highlight, so they went and booked him in the *next* best fight that they could find for him,
current lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez former The Ultimate Fighter winner Kelvin Gastelum.
On one hand, Gastelum is a living, breathing person, which perfectly meets Cerrone’s criteria for an opponent (though not exactly the big names he’s been calling for lately). The TUF 17 winner is also coming off a win over former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks that he actually made weight for, but short of Alvarez, the UFC was fighting a losing battle here in trying to replace Lawler. Gastelum is fine, I guess, but it’s like trading in a filet mignon for a flank steak that was left on the grill for too long because Kelvin Gastelum was too busy kicking my ass to cook it properly. Here are some reactions which illustrate my point.
So we go from Donald Anthony Cerrone vs. Robert Glenn Lawler to Cerrone vs. Gastelum? pic.twitter.com/TwXn0gpB4S
— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) September 14, 2016
— J. Romero (@AverageJoeArt) September 14, 2016
Cowboy Cerrone wanted big names for UFC 205 bout… mentioned GSP, Diaz, was set to face Lawler. UFC books him with Kelvin Gastelum. ?% #mma
— MMA Supremacy (@MMASupremacy) September 14, 2016
Cerrone vs. Gastelum? That seems pretty good. Oh wait … pic.twitter.com/9FWmbLhdBR
— Chad Dundas (@chaddundas) September 14, 2016
Another person who’s pissed about Cerrone vs. Gastelum? That would be Jorge Masvidal, who was scheduled to take on Gastelum at The Ultimate Fighting Latin America 3 finale in November. As he told MMAFighting:
It’s really heart breaking, man. We both signed bout agreements. Joe Silva told me it was more than on its way, you know. And I just found out today that they’re putting [Gastelum] to fight ‘Cowboy’ [Cerrone]. This is crazy, man, because this has happened to me three times. Like all the cases have been documented. Like me, my opponents, once I’ve signed, for some reason or another they get pulled out right before we get the match. So it breaks my heart, you know. I really wanted to put on a fight with a ranked guy.
Masvidal is hoping that the UFC will do him right by booking him against Hendricks next, but if I were him, I’d be angling for that next CM Punk fight. That’s where the real money’s at.