Jared Cannonier hopeful title shot is next after Israel Adesanya endorsement, questions Sean Strickland’s chances
All indications are that Jared Cannonier will soon be fighting for UFC gold.
On Saturday, Cannonier knocked out Derek Brunson decisively in the second round at UFC 271 in Houston, scoring his fifth win in six matches in the 185-pound division and apparently booking himself a ticket to fight middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
Nothing is set in stone yet, but Cannonier is optimistic that he could be next after UFC president Dana White backed Cannonier at Saturday’s post-fight press conference and Adesanya did the same. According to Adesanya, on Friday he told Cannonya that he needed “fresh meat”.
“The only thing I’ve heard is that Dana sort of agreed with that in his post-fight press conference,” Cannonier said on Monday. Hour of MMA. “He kind of nodded at me and smiled when I was in the cage, getting his attention and all that. Let’s see what happens.
“Izzy also tossed me a lane there, so hopefully that’s enough for them guys to send me that contract. But we’ll see.”
As Cannonier noted, he hasn’t heard anything official since Saturday’s tournament, but the June date has been changed and Cannonier said he’s “ready for five rounds” if the fight is scheduled for the summer.
Cannonier entered UFC 271 as the 6th-ranked middleweight in the global MMA Fighting rankings, and with his win, he will surpass 4th-ranked Derek Brunson in the contender line. No. 9 ranked Sean Strickland took home the main event win at UFC Vegas 47 earlier this month, and a third fight with Robert Whittaker could also be scheduled for Adesanya. But Cannonier thinks he’s done enough to get a title shot.
“I know I deserve it,” he said. “But if they choose Strickland over me, that will say something to me. It could be my ego thinking, my ego over my shoulder telling me, “They are afraid of you. They don’t need this heat yet. But I do not know. I can’t say for sure. These guys are smart.
“Obviously Izzy picks his fights and he called my name in the post fight interview and the press conference and it was in preparation so I would say I’m sure it will happen but I’ll just be ready for everything.”
“Honestly, this is a fight that needs to happen,” he continued. “Anyone who mentions Sean Strickland, number 7 [in the official UFC rankings]who just beat either No. 9 or No. 6 – I don’t know how the rankings go – but I beat No. 9 at Kelvin Gastelum, nobody gives me a title shot after that. Who knows? Like I said, anyone can tell if they look at the situation, top 10, Cannonier is coming out of a finish that just beat a striped opponent, if I was just a fan, I would say Cannonier is next.
“I would not give him Vettori, who just lost the title. [fight]. And a third rematch with Robert, it’s plausible, it’s possible, but I don’t know.”
Until Cannonier gets a call, any talk of how he will handle Adesanya is purely speculative. The Last Style Bender was undefeated at middleweight, and his win over Whittaker marked his fourth successive title defense in a row.
However, Cannonier has some idea of how their match will play out and wants everyone to know that he won’t rely on just one good shot to hit the target.
“It will be interesting if this fight happens, to fight someone who is not going to dive at my feet every second, every time they feel pressure, they will shoot at the legs,” Cannonier said. “It will be fun to fight another striker. I will really show my skills in this fight. All these other guys have only ever tried to shoot me because they can’t go with me to master my feet. So this will be a good opportunity to showcase your true striker skills. People only saw me as this big, strong guy who can hit you with one shot and it can hurt and all that good stuff, but my opponent usually brings out the best in me. Izzy is a fighter of the caliber of being a striker and I feel like this will also bring out the best version of my punch.
“Moreover, I have to be good everywhere. I will look at him everywhere. I’m good everywhere, so wherever the fight is, I know one thing, if he gets to the bottom, it might not last. So I can end up showing it to him in this fight. I’m not saying I’m going to shoot his thighs, we’re going to fight, I’m going to put some punches in his face, I’m going to put some punches in his body, I’m definitely going to kick his legs out from under him. He is going to do the same. But it will be a good fight, that’s for sure. That’s the only thing I can say right now.”