In the co-main event of UFC 254, former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker took on rising contender Jared Cannonier in what was essentially a number one contender matchup to determine who will be Israel Adesanya’s next title challenger. Whittaker had trouble dealing with Cannonier’s leg kicks, but his jab was on-point and he was sharp with his 1-2s. Robert’s dangerous high kick floored Cannonier in the final round but Cannonier did well to not only survive but hurt Whittaker at the end. Ultimately, Whittaker was the clear winner in a very entertaining scrap that will surely see Whittaker rematch Izzy in 2021. As for Cannonier, he experiences his first loss at 185.
Here’s Tim Burke’s play-by-play of the final round:
Jab from Whittaker. Front kick. Cannonier fakes a leg kick. Whittaker’s jab is so pretty. Another and he follows it up with a head kick that hurts Cannonier! HE’S DOWN! Whittaker swarms but Cannonier stays in the fight somehow! Whittaker works in his full guard, and quickly passes to half. He’s looking for an arm triangle choke. Whittaker moves to mount with three minutes to go. Cannonier gives up his back. Whittaker hunting for the choke. Cannonier squirms away and gets up. Short elbows from Cannonier against the fence. His resilience is amazing. They separate. Head kick from Cannonier doesn’t land. Whittaker jumps in with a hard jab. One minute to go. Another stiff jab. Body kick from Cannonier. Whittaker jab. Cannonier with a right hook that hurts Whittaker! He’s staggered, but shoots in and throws Cannonier off balance. They battle on the fence. Cannonier just misses with a big knee. Wow what and ending! 10-9 Whittaker, and 30-27 overall.
Robert Whittaker defeated Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Check out the highlights below:
Whittaker amenaza con la patada alta! #UFC254 pic.twitter.com/1MXs0qytmV— ufcespanol (@UFCEspanol) October 24, 2020
High level striking in this one!— UFC (@ufc) October 24, 2020
Who took round 1️⃣ on your card? pic.twitter.com/P81Rh8nTS5
HEAD KICK ALERT @robwhittakermma sent Cannonier stumbling with a head kick in the third round at #UFC254 pic.twitter.com/OyAbMYhDPE— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) October 24, 2020
Some late drama as @killagorillamma buckles Whittaker near the end of Round 3 #UFC254 pic.twitter.com/6Zmd59duXY— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) October 24, 2020