Looks like Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone won’t have to wait until February of 2016 to finally get his title sho,t nor is he going to move up to welterweight to keep himself busy.

Early Return

The UFC announced that UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos will defend his title against Cerrone on December 19th, 2015 in UFC on Fox fight card at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Dos Anjos won the title in dominant fashion against Anthony Pettis at UFC 185 last March 14th. However, Pettis hasn’t fought since then as he has been dealing with a partially torn left MCL which he suffered in the weeks leading to the Dos Anjos bout.  He was initially targeted to return in February of 2016 after surgery but has since avoided the knife as his knee has responded very well to physical therapy in the months he’s been inactive. Dos Anjos’ early availability has opened the doors for his rematch with Cerrone and first defense of the UFC lightweight title.

Long Overdue Rematch

The rematch between Dos Anjos and Cerrone was an easy fight to make as both men have been on a winning spree since the last time they met. Dos Anjos has won four fights in a row and nine of his last 10 bouts. His only loss during this period has been a three round UD defeat at the hands of #1 ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov last April. Nurmagomedov was supposed to fight Cerrone for a title contender match at UFC 187 last May, but that was called off as the former is still recuperating from a knee injury.

Most Active Fighter

On the other hand, Donald Cerrone had been promised a lightweight title shot after “Cowboy” has strung up eight consecutive wins, the longest active winning streak in the 155 pound weight class. During this stretch, Cerrone has recorded five finishes. He is the most active fighter in the UFC roster, having fought four times each in 2013 and 2014. Cerrone has also fought already thrice this year and the December 19th title shot will make him the first fighter in the UFC to fight four times in three consecutive years.

Can’t Wait

After battering John Makdessi to submission at UFC 187, Cerrone was guaranteed a title shot by UFC President Dana White. But since Dos Anjos was still nursing a knee injury at that time, the timetable given to Cerrone was February of 2016. At first Cerrone didn’t argue that but in August 11th, MMA’s Cowboy declared via Twitter that he cannot wait until February 2016 and that he needed to fight soon to stay active. Cerrone even considered moving up to 170 pounds if he couldn’t find a suitable opponent before the end of the year. That ultimatum has paid off and Cerrone won’t have to wait until 2016 to get his first shot at a world title.

Who Takes This?

Dos Anjos beat Cerrone in their first meeting in 2013 mainly because of Cerrone’s slow start. However, Cowboy says that it’s different in a five round bout because he has more rounds to work with. Although he admits that he is indeed a slow starter, Cerrone’s cardio is exceptional and he thinks this is the key against Dos Anjos. However, Dos Anjos has equally been impressive as of late, scoring beatdowns of Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz before pulverizing Anthony Pettis in five rounds. Without a doubt, the key to Dos Anjos in this fight is his knee and ring rust because Cerrone has the luxury of not having to worry about both. Cerrone should use them to his advantage and win his first ever title.

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