WEC 45 underdog Ed Ratcliff ready to deliver a beating to Donald Cerrone
by John Morgan on Dec 18, 2009 at 2:50 pm ET
LAS VEGAS – If you listen to Las Vegas oddsmakers, WEC lightweight Ed Ratcliff (7-1 MMA, 3-1 WEC) is in for a long night this Saturday.
A decided underdog, Ratcliff meets two-time WEC title challenger Donald Cerrone (10-2 MMA, 3-2 WEC) in the main event of Saturday's "WEC 45: Cerrone vs. Ratcliff" event at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
But headlining a show for the first time in his career against undoubtedly his toughest opponent to date, Ratcliff seems relaxed, focused, and prepared to enjoy the moment.
"[Cerrone] is just another man," Ratcliff told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "He's human. Whether his name is big or not, he's trying to take my head off. It's an 'I'm going to get him before he gets me' type of thing.
"Do I feel any more pressure? A little bit. I want to have a good showing, especially because I want to win, but also because I am the headliner."
As current WEC champions Benson Henderson and Jamie Varner – each of whom suffered substantial physical damage despite beating Cerrone – can attest, fighting the "Cowboy" is a challenging proposition. Ratcliff said he's been preparing for the task for quite some time.
"When [a fight with Cerrone] was first presented to me, I think it was last year," Ratcliff said. "But the fight never happened – I think I had to pull out for injury. So when his name came up again, it was like, 'OK, let's do it.'"
And in fact, it's Cerrone's legendary toughness that Ratcliff feels may ultimately be his downfall.
"I think his strengths and weaknesses are one in that he's tough," Ratcliff said. "He's willing to take a beating, and as you've seen, he can take a beating and win a fight. I'll give him a beating and win the fight. So his toughness is a hindrance as well as something that's good for him depending on the opponent.
"He ain't gonna break me. I think it's going to be more of a hindrance for him."
While Cerrone's vaunted striking is often praised, "Cowboy" doesn't have a single victory by knockout or TKO. Ratcliff has five such finishes, but he said he doesn't mind if he's being a bit overlooked.
"It's not frustrating," Ratcliff said. "It's the game. He's on TV. He's more in the media and the magazines and all that. I'm at home chilling, looking at him on TV like, 'I can beat him.' So given the opportunity, I'm going to take his spot."
As the WEC's lightweight division continues to gain depth, Ratcliff knows a win over Cerrone could catapult him into the top level of the 155-pound division. But as the fight approaches, "9mm" is focused mainly on his actions rather than concerning himself with his opponent's.
"Honestly, I couldn't care less what he's trying to do," Ratcliff said. "I go in there doing me, and I rely on my instincts in the cage. Whatever he does, I'll take it. If there's a jab, I'm going to slip it, counter it. I'm going to make him pay for missing. That's the game.
"I want the strap. This is a stepping stone. I have to beat him to be able to move forward towards the title. It's huge."
Thrust into a headlining role, Ratcliff is soaking in the moment. The 26-year-old is learning on the fly as he handles increased media focus, heightened expectations and the realization that he's on the verge of fulfilling a dream he's had since he was 17 years old.
But rather then the added pressures proving a hindrance, Ratcliff feels working hard is now easier than ever.
"I don't care about the pressure," Ratcliff said. "It won't break me. It just makes me better honestly. It pushes me. The days that I don't want to go to the gym, I think about what's in store and what I can become. That's when it's like, 'Get your ass in the gym.'
"I've being doing this since I was 17, so I see progression. It's only a matter of time before you guys see it, as well."
For complete coverage of WEC 45, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of MMAjunkie.com.