Top 5-ranked Middleweight contenders, Jared Cannonier (No. 3) and Derek Brunson (No. 4), battled tonight (Sat., Feb. 12, 2022) inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, to see who’s likely next in line for a 185-pound title shot. Cannonier had won four of his last five bouts dating back to 2018, his lone loss coming to former division champion, Robert Whittaker, back in Oct. 2020. Brunson, meanwhile, was looking to tie a ribbon around his mixed martial arts (MMA) career with a win this evening followed by another in a future championship clash.
Clearly, something had to give, and in the end it was hellacious elbows from Cannonier that put Brunson to sleep in round two.
Cannonier came out with the early pressure, looking to put Brunson on his back foot from the jump. He fired off a one-two combination that just missed, with Brunson attempting to lock up an potentially get the fight to the ground. One minute in and Brunson dove in for a takedown along the cage. Cannonier fought it off as best he could, but Brunson was able to get him down, but not for long. Nice shovel hook from Cannonier, which he followed up with a teep. Low kick from Cannonier, with Brunson countering with a nice punch upstairs. Brunson bulled his way in with a combination upstairs, which he tried to use to set up a takedown that didn’t materialize. Brunson landed a nice left hand on the break, ducking under a Cannonier hook moments later and tying him up along the fence. From there, he scored another takedown, quickly going from half-guard to full mount with one minute remaining in the round. Cannonier, again, was up pretty easily, looking to put something together late. But, Brunson caught him with a short hook on his entry, dropped him t the ground and jumped on his back looking to choke him out. Cannonier was able to hang on, eventually saved by the bell. It was a solid round for Brunson.
Immediate shot from Brunson to start the second stanza, and just like that, he was back on top of Cannonier with almost a full round to go. Cannonier was able to escape again quickly, landing a nice right hook and knee to the belly on the restart. Brunson slowed down immensely, perhaps still buzzing from thos hard shots. Cannonier remained calm as Brunson eventually dove in for another takedown attempt that wasn’t meant to be. Cannonier with a hard straight right hand that snapped Brunson’s head back, throwing lazy kicks and punches at this point ... very odd. Cannonier with a nice jab from Southpaw stance, while Brunson appears to still be on auto pilot. Elbow from Cannonier finds its mark, wobbling Brunson and eventually getting him to the canvas, where he dropped monster elbows that put Brunson out cold.
It was so brutal that Brunson’s corner actually threw in the towel just as the referee rushed in to save him.
The first round was a but shaky, but Cannonier delivered an absolute mauling that will likely set him up for a future title shot later in 2022.
Final result: Cannonier def. Brunson via knockout (elbows) in round two
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