Inside Donald Cerrone’s wardrobe mind game with Conor McGregor
LAS VEGAS — Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone wanted to make a fashion statement that would show Conor McGregor how serious he is about Saturday night’s welterweight bout at UFC 246. But it was a statement PETA didn’t appreciate, creating a potential feud with the animal rights group.
Cerrone showed up at Wednesday’s presser at the Palms Casino dressed in a shiny blazer made of black python skin. Along with his black shirt and black tie, black hat and rattlesnake-skin boots, his specially designed wardrobe did exactly what it was intended to do: rattle McGregor.
Normally, McGregor is the slickest dresser at these events with his sharp, three-piece, custom-made suits. It helps him exude superiority as he launches his verbal warfare. Cerrone wanted to make sure he was dressed equally well if not better. The intention was to send a subtle message he was there to compete inside the Octagon and out.
“He knows that Conor has his fashion down pat,” Hussein Dalla, a Toronto-based menswear designer, told The Post. “Other fighters Conor has fought in the past, he has outshined them before the fight. It’s part of his psychological warfare.”
Dalla has dressed Cerrone since 2016 and said he wanted something that would create a “wow” factor.
“Cowboy wanted to show everybody he is ready for the fight,” Dalla said. “We wanted something that when he went face-to-face with Conor, Cowboy would have a really strong look that was just as good if not better than Conor.”
McGregor took notice, interrupting the press conference on Wednesday to offer an unsolicited compliment.
“That’s one hell of coat,” McGregor said. “I have to give credit where credit is due. That’s a damn good coat, brother.”
Both fighters said something about the possibility of PETA being offended and chuckled. PETA was paying attention and fired off this tweet on Thursday: “We are here to remind you that only COWARDS would brag about wearing an animal who was likely beaten and skinned alive. Why don’t you knock out your insecurities and only wear your OWN skin?”
Getting under McGregor’s skin was Cerrone’s plan and the rancher from New Mexico offered no apologies on Thursday during a media scrum at the UFC facilities outside Las Vegas. This is MMA and being political correct isn’t a requirement.
“If killing humans was legal I could wear a bad-ass human jacket,” Cerrone said in an awkward attempt at a joke. “I got a white buffalo at home, and when she croaks, I’m going to wear a legendary white buffalo cape out one of these days.”
Cerrone lives on a 40-acre ranch outside of Albuquerque, N.M., and probably won’t earn many fans who support PETA.
“At the ranch, I have a lot of animals, turkeys, goats chickens and pigs, and we kill and eat them all ourselves, every bit of it,” he said. “I don’t go down to the store and buy beef. We raise it, kill it and eat it. If there’s something inhuman or unjust about raising and killing my own meat for my own sake, then PETA, you’re f—-d up. Granted I didn’t raise the snake to build a python jacket, but damn it was cool so I had to wear it.”
No one, not even PETA, is going to spoil Cerrone’s week. He and members of his team rode Harleys to the media session on Thursday, saying, he wanted to put his “knees in the breeze.”
This is his turn in the spotlight after a long career in which he has accumulated the most wins (36-13, 1 NC) and finishes in UFC history, but doesn’t have a victory in a mega-bout.
Fighting against McGregor in the main event on ESPN Plus PPV is a chance to enhance his life’s work in the Octagon and validate a new six-fight deal with the UFC. He was genuinely excited to have his face on Budweiser cans as a promotion leading up to this fight. “How cool is that,” he said.
At age 36, he has no plans to retire regardless of Saturday’s outcome.
“When [Father Time] knocks on the door, I tell it to get out of here,” Cerrone said. “I’ve got a long way to go. I’m just looking to go out and have a good time. I literally love doing this — it’s the most fun I could ever have. There’s only a handful of real fighters left, and I’m glad to be one of them. Saturday night we’re going to blow the roof off. The Cowboy is showing up for the big one.”
Cerrone might not be a favorite of PETA, but he is a fan favorite in the UFC, where fans are loyal to those who are consistent at delivering quality performances. Cerrone fits that mold. He insisted he’s fit and ready, something Dalla confirmed.
“I’ve measured him a few times,” Dalla told The Post. “Based on his measurements, Cowboy is in terrific shape. He has a slimmer waist and a bigger chest. From all the proportions I’ve seen, he’s in really great shape for this fight.”
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