Jared Cannonier believes that Alex Pereira’s upset TKO win over Israel Adesanya at UFC 281 was a good thing for the rest of the middleweight division, including himself.
With Adesanya no longer champion, “Tha Killa Gorilla” believes that he and the other middleweight contenders now have a more direct route to a title shot, rather than having to work they way back up to a rematch.
Despite the opportunity that Adesanya’s loss presented to the division, however, Cannonier made it clear that he did not hope for or celebrate “The Last Stylebender’s” shock defeat.
“I wouldn’t say I was shocked,” Cannonier, who lost to Adesanya this past July, said on The MMA Hour (h/t MMA Fighting) “That’s how fights go. That’s how some fights can go. You can be winning one minute, next thing you know you’re trying not to get hit with some of the biggest shots coming your way. That’s how it goes. It’s unfortunate how it went down for Israel [Adesanya], but that’s the fight game, man.”
“I wouldn’t say it was a good thing for me,” he added. “I wouldn’t say I was happy or anything like that. I didn’t have an emotional reaction to it. It was more of a logical thing. And the way I think of it is, it brings more interest to the division, as opposed to bringing more interest to Israel himself.
“So it is good for the rest of us. We all get more of a chance of fighting for the title, as opposed to trying to make our way back up to a rematch, which I feel is harder to do in this sport. But no, I wasn’t happy that Israel lost. I wasn’t like clutching my crystals hoping Israel loses this fight or anything like that. So no, I’ve never wished ill will on anybody.”
Cannonier rebounded from his loss to Adesanya with a split decision victory over Sean Strickland at UFC Vegas 66. After the fight, he called for a rematch with Robert Whittaker, offering to step in as a replacement for Paulo Costa at UFC 284. He is currently #3 in the UFC middleweight rankings, with standout victories over Strickland, Brunson, and Gastelum.