Anyone who thought Donald Cerrone's fight against Niko Price might mark his final trip to the cage should think again.
The former title challenger will enter the UFC Fight Night co-main event Saturday in Las Vegas riding a four-fight losing streak, the longest skid of his professional career. That fact has prompted some to wonder whether this could be it for "Cowboy," but it seems retirement isn't even close to being on his mind.
"Hell no," Cerrone said Wednesday when asked if there's any truth to rumors he may retire this weekend, according to MMA Fighting. "Where'd you hear that from? ... Not even in my train of thought. Wrong question."
The 37-year-old, who challenged Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt in 2015, has been a UFC fighter for nearly a decade and has stepped into the Octagon 35 times. The fan favorite has the most wins in company history (23) and is tied for most finishes (16).
Asked if he thinks he'll always have a spot on the UFC roster so long as he wants to continue fighting, Cerrone said he hopes his eventual exit will be on his own terms.
"I plan on being here for a long time," he said. "I'm gonna leave when I'm done. I don't ever want the walking papers, you know what I mean? So when Cowboy's done fighting, I'm gonna bend my hat and I'm gonna say, 'Alright boys, I've had enough. I'm out.' I don't ever want to have them call my manager and release me. That would totally suck."
UFC president Dana White, however, hinted Thursday the end could be near for Cerrone.
"I would say everything is on the line for Cowboy," White told ESPN's "SportsCenter," according to MMA Junkie. "In professional sports, the day starts to come where all of our heroes start to get old, and 'Cowboy' Cerrone is getting there. He needs a win. He needs a win badly."
Cerrone said he ultimately doesn't care about those who believe he should retire from the sport.
"This fight's for me, man. All the naysayers, all the people that say, 'You've lost four in a row, you don't belong, you should be retired.' ... I don't give a shit," Cerrone said. "I don't care if I need to prove anything."
He added: "This one's just for me. I get to look myself in the mirror Saturday morning where I go, 'Let's go, baby, this is for you, Cowboy.' And I get to go have all the fun I want with no expectations, no must-wins, no must-dos, no nothing.
"Just go and fight my fight and love every second of it and have fun and enjoy it. And that's why I'm gonna be victorious."