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Jared Cannonier can’t afford to sit around and wait for title shot: ‘I’m broke so I need to fight’

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UFC Fight Night: Cannonier v Gastelum Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Can we go a single week without another story that puts UFC’s fighter pay structure into a pretty bad light? Maybe we can, but it won’t be this week!

In the latest depressing story of a UFC athlete being underpaid, top-ranked Middleweight contender Jared Cannonier came right out of his big decision win over Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Vegas 34 last night (watch highlights) to declare he was struggling financially.

“I’m broke, so I need to fight,” Cannonier told Daniel Cormier after the win. “Hopefully, I get that title shot. The right name might make me say yes.”

During the post-fight press conference, Cannonier’s comments made it clear that wasn’t just a joke.

“It’s either title or contender,” he said when asked what was next. “It was supposed to be Costa, but that didn’t happen. I really needed to fight, so.... I don’t think [Israel Adesanya] and Robert [Whittaker] are going to fight until next year. So that’s four, five, six months even? And then another three, four months after that? I can’t wait that long. So who knows, I may end up taking a fight.”

Cannonier only fought once in 2020 and that was a loss to Whittaker, effectively slashing his typical paycheck in half. Add in the wild taxes and costs of being a professional athlete competing at this level and it’s no surprise that a fight purse somewhere between $100,000-$200,000 doesn’t leave Cannonier with a lot of flexibility.

Pay issues aside, the most important thing for Cannonier was making sure his next win locked in a title shot.

“If they give me a name, ‘You win, you get the shot.’ Okay. Easy,” he declared.

As for whether Cannonier was worried as the judges read the scores, he told the ESPN post-show that he felt he’d done enough.

“I knew I won the decision,” he said. “I knew I won at least three out of those [five] rounds ... and the judges agreed. I think Kelvin got off to a good start, landed some good shots. I got a feel for him, and then I started landing my shots. I wish I had landed more, but it is what it is. I landed enough.

“As you know this is my second time in a five round fight, so preparing for these fights is nothing new to me,” he continued. “I know I have the cardio to go five rounds. So after tonight’s performance, I know there are going to be plenty more five round fights coming for me. I’m more than ready to take on that challenge. “I’m going to keep whooping people’s behinds, I’m gonna keep kicking people’s butts, and keep cashing those checks.”

For complete UFC Vegas 34 results and coverage, including play-by-play updates, click here.