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Longtime ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, oft-criticized for having diarrhea of the mouth, may not be well versed in mixed martial arts (MMA), but he certainly knows a thing or two about the world of sports.

Like how to spot an athlete who doesn’t have his head in the game.

Smith was lambasted by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) color commentator Joe Rogan, along with Conor McGregor (and the rest of the angry MMA fan mob) for his claims that Donald Cerrone “didn’t show up” at UFC 246.

“Cowboy” was smashed by McGregor in just 40 seconds.

Then Cerrone told the combat sports media on Tuesday that he “couldn’t get going, couldn’t get excited, couldn’t get fired up, and didn’t want to be there,” which is exactly what Smith argued in the wake of “Cowboy’s” loss last January.

Remember, Cerrone started seeing a sports psychologist back in 2013 because he would “fold under pressure” — like he did against Nate Diaz — and was “trying to work those kinks out” for the betterment of his career.

“I always say, you never know which ‘Cowboy’ is gonna show up,” Cerrone said after his UFC win over Al Iaquinta last year in Ottawa. “I couldn’t find it today, man. I was in the back with my coaches, lying to them, ‘yeah I’m ready,’ like faking it until I make it. I couldn’t even find my stride until the second round. It was rough.”

His candor is refreshing.

I know it’s hard to accept that a savage like Cerrone would lay an egg on the biggest stage of all, particularly when you consider his hall-of-fame resume — which includes over 50 professional fights and 27 finishes — but objectivity can be difficult when you’re this close to the action.

I guess in that regard, Chael Sonnen was right, too.



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