Trying to steer out of a two-fight losing skid, Jared Cannonier agreed to fight the unheralded Alessio Di Chirico on Nov. 17, 2018. But, then Luke Rockhold got injured and UFC had to shuffle the deck, matching up “The Killa Gorilla” opposite former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) “double champ,” David Branch, on UFC 230’s pay-per-view (PPV) main card tonight (Nov. 3, 2018) inside Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.
Considering Branch has just one loss in 13 fights dating back to 2012 — and that “The Garden” is one of the most iconic venues in all of sports — it seemed as though Cannonier (who was also making his Middleweight debut) was in way over his head.
Cannonier opened up the action with a stinging low kick, but Branch just sat back and waited to implement his game ... almost immediately. Branch shot in for a takedown, wrestling Cannonier to the ground and trying to take his back, but he was able to escape and the pair returned to the center of the Octagon. It wasn’t long after that Branch finished another takedown, and once again, worked hard to take Cannonier’s back. Branch — a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie — was unable to get anything going and Cannonier eventually wormed his way back to his feet. With one minute remaining in the round, Branch secured his third takedown of the round, but Cannonier hit a switch and spun out and returned to his feet. Cannonier landed a nice shot on the break before the first frame came to a close.
Cannonier came out of his corner for the second round on fire, drilling Branch with a straight right hand after shucking off a weak takedown attempt, sending him crashing to the canvas. Cannonier immediately followed Branch to the floor, dropping a barrage of violent hammerfists and elbows as Branch squirmed and rolled to try and avoid the shots. Branch was able to get on all fours, but Cannonier was plugging his earhole with ferocious, incessant strikes until the referee stepped in and stopped the assault.
Dang — what an incredible, powerful performance. Cannonier — who has previously competed at Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight — took this bout on short notice and put his stamp on the No. 7-ranked former dual champion. After some struggles in different weight classes, it appears as though Cannonier has finally found a home.
And the rest of the 185-pound division is now, officially, on notice.
For complete UFC 230: “Cormier vs. Lewis” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.