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UFC 253: Jared Cannonier ready to bump Robert Whittaker, take over as alternate for Adesanya-Costa

UFC Fight Night: Hermansson v Cannonier Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been keeping himself in fight shape in the off chance the promotion needs a late replacement for the UFC 253 pay-per-view (PPV) main event this September in Las Vegas.

And it looks like he’s got some company.

The surgically-repaired Jared Cannonier is also readying himself should something happen within the next few weeks that would somehow rule either Israel Adesanya or Paulo Costa ineligible to compete in their long-awaited grudge match.

With COVID-19 still floating around, anything is possible.

“I’m ready to be an alternate, and I’m ready for my contender fight,” Cannonier told MMA Junkie Radio. “As far as my therapist, he feels more comfortable me actually fighting the Octagon in October. The more time the better for the repair, so October is the time we talked about. … Hopefully with that offer, the prospect of being the alternate for the title fight, so things are happening. I’m back, hold tight, and get ready.”

The promotion has yet to make an official announcement regarding UFC 253.

Cannonier (13-4), who dropped all the way down from heavyweight, has captured three straight wins — and three straight knockouts — in the 185-pound division. That includes last September’s destruction over No. 4-ranked contender Jack Hermansson.

At the time of this writing, Whittaker remains seated in the No. 1 spot and already has a history with Adesanya, so it would stand to reason that UFC would first call upon “The Reaper” to step in on short notice. If not, there’s always this title-eliminator bout in October.