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TUF 25 Finale interview: Jared Cannonier talks becoming full-time fighter

TUF 25 Finale main card competitor Jared Cannonier spoke with Bloody Elbow about leaving his full-time job to focus on fighting, moving out of Alaska, and plans for the 185 division.

Fresh off of a big-name fight with Glover Teixeira at UFC 208, UFC light heavyweight Jared Cannonier has left his full time job, maintaining air traffic control equipment, to better focus on accelerating his professional Mixed Martial Arts career. After departing from his home in Alaska to join up with the MMA Lab in Arizona, Cannonier is looking to to take his career to the next level. Originally scheduled to clash with the heavy-handed Canadian Steve Bosse, Cannonier is now slated to scrap with the short notice replacement Nick Roehrick, at the TUF 25 Finale on July 7, 2017. Before waging war in Las Vegas, Cannonier caught up with Bloody Elbow to discuss quitting his benefit-riddled job to pursue his MMA dreams, picking up confidence in his bout with Teixeira, and potential plans to fight at 185.

Making the bold move to quit the full time job to pursue the life of a successful Mixed Martial Artist.

“I recently quit my job at the end of May, so now I’m officially a full-time fighter, and I’m officially enthralled in that fight life. Doing two a days, nothing but training, nothing but MixedMartial Arts. No going to the office and sitting for 10 hours, and then trying to train. No more of that. The results are already starting to show. I’ve got abs now; that’s always cool. I’m a bit more flexible than I was. I’m able to focus on myself, really be selfish. As bad as it sounds, but I’m able to focus on myself and make myself a better fighter.”

Was there a tipping point that helped you take the leap and leave the full time gig, with ample benefits?

“Of course, money is always the issue when it comes to quitting a job to do a job. When you have a family, my job offered me health insurance, life insurance, and a butt load of other benefits that the UFC has yet to offer. So, it was definitely a hard decision to make, but I have faith in my abilities, that I’ll be able to make enough to compensate for all of that stuff in the UFC.”

Freedom to travel from Alaska to train at the MMA Lab in Arizona:

“Now that I’m able to train and not locked down to one place, I’m currently in Phoenix, training at The MMA Lab, and sharpening my tools there. I’m actually relocating. I get to move now. I don’t have to stay in Alaska, stay isolated up there and work with what I had, which wasn’t bad, we had some good training up there, but it wasn’t catered to a professional Mixed Martial Artist. It was time, especially fighting at the level I fight, fighting the guys who I’ll be fighting now; It’s just the smarter move to ensure victory in this sport.

Wobbling Glover Teixeira in the 1st round at UFC 208, and remaining relatively safe on the ground, despite dropping the decision:

“In my opinion, that fight was still a victory for me. Fighting #2 in the world at that time, Glover Teixeira, who I’m a huge fan of, who I’ve watched for a very long time. To be able to go the distance with him, and not take the damage that most people take, I was very happy. It really upped my confidence in my striking, and it’s going to show in my next fight.”

Training at the MMA Lab:

“One thing that a lot of these guys don’t know is that I’m an animal on the ground, too. I’m a “Killa Gorilla” on the ground. I’m a killer on the ground. I don’t get on the ground and hold people down. If I’m on top, it’s going to hurt. You’re going to give up, or you’re going to get out of there. The guys at the (MMA) Lab are honing that aspect of my skillset, my offensive wrestling and defensive wrestling as well.”

The last time we spoke, you mentioned that your wife was in charge of all of the cooking; is that still the case with this weight cut?

“No, I left my nutritionist at home in Alaska, so I’m having to do it all myself. With that being said, the weight cut is still going good. I’m actually ahead of schedule as far as the weight cut goes, so this is going to be yet another easy weight cut. No problems, 204 on the dot. I’ve got abs, I’ve got abs now, so hopefully I get to keep ‘em.”

Is fighting at 185 pounds still on your radar?

“Yeah, it is definitely there. With the way my weight is now, I’m walking around at 215. That’s what middleweights do; they walk around at 215. I’m not big on cutting 20, 30, 40 pounds. I’ll cut 10 pounds easy. I’m not fixing to zap myself just to make weight. I for one think that’s cheating, to try to get that big of a size advantage on guys. If you a bad man, you’ll fight the biggest, the best. Find a challenge, and then over the challenge, that’s how you become the baddest man on the planet.”

Watch Jared Cannonier wage war with Nick Roehrick at the TUF 25 Finale on July 7, 2017. The main card will air live at 9:00 P.M. EDT on FS1, with the prelims beginning at 7:00 P.M. EDT on FS2. The Exclusive Fight Pass Prelims will start at 6:00 P.M. EDT. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage, including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!