After testing his Octagon skills and recording knockouts at both heavyweight and light heavyweight, Cannonier has found a home at 155 pounds. In his six appearances in the division, “The Killa Gorilla” has gone 5-1, with his sole loss coming against former champion Robert Whittaker in 2020.
Now, having rebounded with a main event victory over Kelvin Gastelum and a brutal ground-and-pound KO of Derek Brunson earlier this year, Cannonier has risen to #2 on the middleweight ladder and set his sights on Adesanya, whom he’ll look to dethrone at UFC 276 on July 2.
Despite being regarded as a heavy underdog, Cannonier has given a confident assessment of his preparation, and suggested that he’ll force the champion to change his approach when they share the cage this summer.
But one former titleholder isn’t buying it.
During a recent appearance on Submission Radio, Rockhold, who sat on the middleweight throne in late 2015 after getting the better of Chris Weidman, gave Cannonier just a 20% chance of adding the first blemish to Adesanya’s 185-pound record in the UFC 276 headliner.
“Cannonier’s got a 20% chance. He’s got a puncher’s chance,” said Rockhold. “Israel’s so long and effective, how he gets out of the way of a power-puncher like that. I don’t know, I don’t see it. He fights from so many angles. It’s gonna be tough for Cannonier to get through the power kicks, takedowns, or whatever he’s gonna try to do. You never know though, he’s a tough dude.”
Having defended his title four times against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori, and Whittaker, Adesanya will be looking to extend his run of dominance by adding Cannonier to his résumé on July 2.
Should he accomplish that feat, perhaps a bout with Rockhold will be in his future. The Californian is preparing for his return against top-five contender Paulo Costa and has expressed his desire to return to the middleweight mountaintop.
Do you agree with Luke Rockhold’s assessment of Jared Cannonier’s title chances?