With reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya already starring in reruns, defeating Marvin Vettori (again) and moving on to rematch Robert Whittaker, it’s clear that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is in dire need of fresh contenders at 185 pounds.
Enter Jared Cannonier.
While “The Killa Gorilla” is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Whittaker at UFC 254 back in late 2020, the former heavyweight believes his performance was enough to convince matchmakers that he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the Top 5 of his division.
“As far as my energy goes, I’m picking up right where I left off,” Cannonier told MMA Junkie. “You know, I’m a better fighter than I was back then. Even going through the injuries, I’ve gotten better, and no, I didn’t take any steps back. No. Losing that fight to Robert the way that I lost it, can’t nobody take anything away from me with that. Luckily, the people who book the fights and cut the checks, they see that as well. So I’m glad we got competent people running the show and not the guys who wanna see bloody, all-out brawls and stuff like that. I want to have an intelligent approach, as always.”
Cannonier (13-5) will look to keep his place in the 185-pound line when he battles venerable middleweight bruiser Kelvin Gastelum (16-7) in the UFC Vegas 34 main event, going down this Sat. night (Aug. 21, 2021) inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.
See the entire UFC Vegas 34 fight card right here.
With Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2 delayed until 2022, the winner of Cannonier vs. Gastelum is unlikely to secure a crack at the 185-pound crown. The winner of Derek Brunson vs. Darren Till, who settle their middleweight score next month in “Sin City,” is the more likely option.
Especially with this top contender having recently been erased.