It wasn’t long ago that Jared Cannonier was a win away from likely bagging a title shot against current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. Unfortunately for Cannonier, that win would elude his grasps when he lost to Robert Whittaker last October.
Despite the setback, Cannonier still came into last night’s main event as the #3-ranked fighter in the division, which means he remained somewhere in the title picture. His placement would become much more visible after another win over a top-10 opponent in Kelvin Gastelum last night. In fact, as far as Cannonier is concerned, there are only two real options for what type of fight should come next for him (h/t MMA Junkie).
“It’s either title or contender,” Cannonier said at the UFC Vegas 34 post-fight press conference. “It was supposed to be (Paulo) Costa, but that didn’t happen. I really need to fight. I don’t think (Israel Adesanya) or Robert (Whittaker) are going to fight until next year. So that’s what? Four, five, six months, even? Then, another three and four months after that, I can’t wait that long. So who knows, I may end up taking the fight.”
Indeed, Cannonier was scheduled to face #2-ranked Paulo Costa, but those talks collapsed due to contractual issues on the Costa side. Now, Costa will be facing the #4-ranked Marvin Vettori instead on October 23. Meanwhile, another pivotal middleweight bout is scheduled in two weeks when the surging Derek Brunson (#5) faces Adesanya’s dream opponent, Darren Till (#7) on September 4.
Cannonier is likely going to fight again after declaring to be “broke” in his post-fight Octagon interview. And aside from his urgent need for cash, there have been strong rumblings of the Adesanya/Whittaker rematch not taking place until 2022. If that’s the case, there will be plenty of time to work out who is who in the murderer’s row that is the middleweight division. And placing himself right back in the middle of the pack after his impressive victory last night is “The Killa Gorilla” himself, Jared Cannonier.
Who would you like to see Jared Cannonier face next?