Cowboy vs. El Cucuy: The Match We've All Been Waiting For

Cowboy Vs. El Cucuy: The Match We've All Been Waiting For

MMA fans better not blink when these two top lightweights go head-to-head.

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Shock waves were felt across the world when the UFC announced that Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone will face Tony 'El Cucuy' Ferguson in the main card of UFC 238. The match seeks to end the speculation of who will face the winner between interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier and current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the future. Fans of the UFC are in for a treat as two of the arguably best fighters in lightweight division history meet face-to-face for the first time ever. Cerrone (36-11, 1 NC) was impressive in his dominant decision win over Al Iaquinta at UFC Ottawa earlier this month while Ferguson (24-3) makes his return to the octagon after dealing with personal issues that kept him aside from the sport for over several months.

The scheduled three-round contest will give everyone a clear indication of which fighter deserves a title shot in the next chapter of this drama-filled lightweight division saga. Cerrone has plans to change the narrative in the division by making his intentions clear of wanting a title shot in the foreseeable future. He currently has a three-fight win streak which does place momentum on his side. I do have to question Cerrone however because throughout his career he has come up short against top-ranked opponents. He's lost to almost every top contender he's faced including the likes of Nate Diaz, Darren Till, Robbie Lawler, and Anthony Pettis. Ferguson, on the other hand, has a better streak of winning 11 fights in a row including his latest victory against Pettis back on October 6 of 2018 at UFC 229. Yet it's unclear of how severe the problems Ferguson faced with his family will affect his return to fighting.

However, one thing I'd like to point out is that we should still not count out Conor McGregor. On March 25, McGregor did announce he was retiring from the sport but I already predicted that he would return soon enough with UFC President Dana White confirming that to CNN on April 12. Indeed he did lose to Nurmagomedov already but arguably could still be worthy of a rematch unless White thinks it could potentially stain the company's look even more considering the antics following their match at UFC 229. After all, it was the highest-selling MMA fight of all-time with roughly 2.4 million views on pay-per-view.

If it all plays out the way most fans want it to be, then we could finally get the highly anticipated match-up between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov. White has worked tirelessly tried to make this happen but has failed to do so on four separate occasions. The two fighters were originally paired to face each other in the finale of the Ultimate Fighter 22 back in December of 2015. Nurmagomedov suffered a rib injury and pulled out of the contest. Then five months later, a match was made for UFC in Tampa, Florida on April 16 but never materialized as Ferguson felt ill leading up to the fight resulting in doctors finding fluids within his lungs that canceled everything altogether.

In March of 2017, UFC 209 featured a co-headliner between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov, but due to Khabib being hospitalized after the weight cut process made it a third time in a row the two were unable to exchange gloves. White's final attempt came last year in 2018 at UFC 223 where then interim lightweight champion Ferguson was supposed to fight Nurmagomedov but ironically was canceled again on April 1st with Ferguson requiring knee surgery just six days before the match on April 7. White responded, "Hell no" to ESPN.com if he would try an unprecedented fifth time for the two lightweights to fight in the octagon. Perhaps White will have no choice and reconsider trying one more time if Ferguson defeats Cerrone.

I'm unsure of how any of this is going to pan out, but we're going to have to wait and find out what happens at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on June 8.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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