UFC middleweight contender Jared Cannonier wants to prove that he can wrestle with the best of them, including UFC 271 opponent Derek Brunson.
Cannonier and Brunson are set to meet in a middleweight showcase on the UFC 271 main card. Both men are vying for a potential title shot against the winner of Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker.
Cannonier has always been known for his ferocious striking and intimidating presence in the Octagon. His grappling hasn’t been discussed as much by the MMA faithful, but he showed off superb takedown defense in recent wins over Kelvin Gastelum and Jack Hermansson.
Cannonier will face a tough test against Brunson, arguably the best wrestler in the middleweight division. During his UFC 271 media day press conference, Cannonier seemed to welcome the challenge.
“I can grapple. I train at The MMA Lab and we got good grapplers, D-1 level wrestlers that I’m learning from,” Cannonier said. “They don’t have to be the same size as me, but we got some big guys in there. I’ve trained with the little guys damn near my whole career. You see how far that’s gotten me.
“Yeah, I can grapple too. I can wrestle too. I have a pair of wrestling shoes my damn self. They’re probably not as worn out as his, he’s been doing it way longer than me, but my mind allows me to be as good as these other guys when I need be. You may see me taking him down if the opportunity presents itself.”
Cannonier has won four of his last five fights over some of the best contenders in the division. He has fought at multiple weight classes during his UFC career but seems to have found a home at 185 pounds.
This is arguably Cannonier’s biggest fight to date and biggest test inside the cage. If he ends up being victorious against Brunson, he’ll likely need to utilize some grappling skills in the process.
What is your prediction for Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson?