Robert Whittaker will return to the Octagon on March 7 at UFC 248 for the first time since losing his middleweight title. And, he will do so by taking on the surging contender, Jared Cannonier, the promotion announced. It will also take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
It was not certain this would be the fight after it was reported Cannonier had already agreed to the contract. But, Whittaker and his team wanted the UFC London main event against Darren Till. What happened for them to accept the Cannonier fight is unknown.
Whittaker last fought in October at UFC 243 when he was knocked out in the second round by Israel Adesanya to lose his middleweight title. Before that, “The Reaper” was dealing with injuries as he had to pull out of his UFC 234 main event scrap the day of the fight.
To win the title, he beat Yoel Romero at UFC 213 to win the interim title and was later promoted to undisputed when Georges St-Pierre vacated the belt. At UFC 225 he was set to defend the belt against Romero, but the Cuban missed weight so it became a non-title fight but the Aussie still edged out a decision.
Jared Cannonier, meanwhile, has been a perfect 3-0 since moving down to middleweight. He started his UFC career out as a heavyweight and with mixed results and heavyweight and light heavyweight he appears to have found his weight class at 185 pounds.
Since moving down, he TKO’d David Branch at UFC 230, followed that up with a TKO win over Anderson Silva and finally, TKO’d Jack Hermansson in September in the main event of UFC Copenhagen.
It seems likely this fight is a number one contender bout and the winner should get a shot at Adesanya.