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Jared Cannonier next in line for Israel Adesanya, but Jack Hermansson could steal middleweight title shot

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Israel Adesanya retained his 185-pound title in emphatic fashion by smashing Paulo Costa in the UFC 253 pay-per-view (PPV) main event last weekend on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.

Watch the video highlights here.

No word yet on when Adesanya will return to the Octagon, but both “The Last Stylebender” and promotion president Dana White agree that middleweight power-puncher Jared Cannonier is next in line, if “Killa Gorilla” can defeat former champion Robert Whittaker in the UFC 254 co-main event.

“That’s the fight if Cannonier wins,” White said in the wake of UFC 253. “And I love that about Israel. He’s ready for who’s next, who else thinks they can beat me. The kid is an absolute stud.”

That said, there is a very real possibility that Whittaker prevails. No doubt “The Reaper” would be clamoring for a chance to recapture his crown, lost to Adesanya in the UFC 243 main event back in late 2019, but No. 4-ranked “Joker,” Jack Hermansson, is also in the mix.

“Cannonier next if he gets past Robert (Whittaker). The Joker, I liked his win over Kelvin Gastelum, I wanna showcase my grappling a little bit,” Adesanya told reporters at the UFC 253 post-fight press conference. “I was hoping (Costa) would try tonight so I could show him what the white belt can do.”

Hermansson remains unconvinced.

“He doesn’t want to that at all. I’m sure he wants to fight me, but I’m one hundred percent sure that he doesn’t want to fight me on the ground,” Hermansson told Submission Radio. “Not a chance. He is the superior striker and I am the superior grappler. But at the same time, I feel like I have the wrestling at my side, I have the ground and pound on my side. And I believe it’s easier to create opportunities in the striking than it is in the grappling. So, overall, I see myself as the better fighter.”

He might be the only one ... at least until he gets the chance to prove it.

If Hermansson does want to get the next shot at the 185-pound strap, he’ll need to first dispose of middleweight “Gorilla” Darren Till. They’re slated to headline the promotion’s “Fight Night” card on Dec. 5 at a location to be named.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 254 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 12 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 254: “Khabib vs. Gaethje” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.