Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland squared off in a Middleweight contest earlier tonight (Sat., Dec. 17, 2022) at UFC Vegas 66 from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It didn’t take these two long to stand in the pocket and start picking shots. Cannonier showed off his speed advantage, targeting the head and body. Strickland’s defense was on point early, however, preventing any huge lands. Strickland did some pretty decent work with his jab through the first half of the round, which was starting to land more and more. Soon afterward, Strickland caught a kick and converted it into a brief takedown. Cannonier popped up well, but he took some shots in the clinch in the process.
After escaping, Cannonier landed his first heavy calf kick of the fight. He went to the low kick twice more immediately afterward, scoring well. Strickland closed a competitive first round with a couple lands upstairs.
Cannonier chopped the calf to start the second as well. Strickland answered with some nice jab connections, and that seemed to be the primary battle of this match up: jabs vs. low kicks. As the round wore on, Cannonier slowly shifted that momentum into his favor, continually digging into the thigh and calf at a damaging rate. His big swings were getting closer as well. In the final minute, however, Strickland did land a hard combination that really backed Cannonier off. “The Killa Gorilla” landed one last power right near the bell, perhaps his best punch to that point.
Cannonier increased the aggression in round three, and both men landed heavier as a result. Cannonier found some real connections with his 3-2, and his low kicks landed well also, even if a few were checked also. For Strickland’s part, the jab continued to flow, and he walked Cannonier into a few hard counter shots as well. Even with an increased volume from both, the overall round remained very competitive.
Strickland turned it up in kind in the fourth. His jab was humming, and Strickland’s right hand found a home several times. At least once, Cannonier’s knees wobbled a bit from the shot. It looked to be a run away Strickland round until the final minute, at which point Cannonier started biting down and swinging big — a few clean lands definitely got Strickland’s attention.
It really felt like the entire fight was up for grabs with five minutes remaining. Strickland started planting his feet and throwing more combinations, but Cannonier fired right back. Despite their best efforts, neither could really pull ahead and definitively put a stamp on the round or fight. It was tit-for-tat until the final bell, and all we could do was await the judges’ verdict.
For complete UFC Vegas 66: “Strickland vs. Cannonier” results and play-by-play, click HERE!