Former UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya received a ton of criticism after his fight against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 this past July. Adesanya defeated Cannonier, but his performance was deemed boring, ‘pitter-patter’ and a ‘sparring session in the gym,’ all of which were in contrast to what he said he would deliver in his fifth defense.
Though most criticized Adesanya, some, including Cannonier, defended him. To the ‘Killa Gorilla,’ the performance was what he expected from the ‘Last Stylebender,’ who is one of the best in the division.
“Everybody s—t on him and I don’t think he deserved that,” said Cannonier at media day for UFC Vegas 66. “He did exactly what I expected him to do, avoid the danger that I bring and try to lay down his game as best as he can. And I did the exact same thing that I always do, avoid the danger that they bring and shut down the dangers that they have and try to bring the damage to them.
“And that’s what you get,” continued Cannonier. “When you get two of the best going at it, things like this happen. It ain’t gonna be two people knocking the s—t out of each other for five, five-minute rounds. That’s not what the best it. The best doesn’t get hit. The best hits and not get hit and I think we did that. People saw that, and the ignorance showed. Most people don’t know what they’re looking at. They just want to see carnage, visceral, mayhem, chaos. That’s what they thrive off of.”
Months removed from his first UFC championship opportunity, Cannonier hopes to get a second one with a win over Sean Strickland, his upcoming opponent at UFC Vegas 66 on Saturday. With Alex Pereira dethroning Adesanya at UFC 281 this past November, a few contenders could challenge ‘Po Atan’ should he remain atop the division.
If he does, then Cannonier sees himself as one of them next in line for Pereira — or whoever the UFC middleweight champion is in the coming months.
“Me, Robert Whittaker is up there,” said Cannonier. “I’m sure the rematch between Israel and Alex is up there, as well. So, yeah. I’m right there. So [a] good, old fashioned ass-whopping Saturday night should put my name right there in the mix.”
Cannonier vs. Strickland goes down on Sat., Dec. 17, at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.