clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jared Cannonier believes a win over Derek Brunson leads to title shot: ‘There’s nobody else’

Cannonier could vault himself into title contention with a win this weekend. 

Jared Cannonier weighing in for UFC 271.
Jared Cannonier weighing in for UFC 271.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Jared Cannonier knows a win over Derek Brunson at UFC 271 on Saturday night could lead to a title shot.

Cannonier made his debut in the middleweight division three years ago and became a ranked contender in less than five fights. The ‘Killa Gorilla’ earned wins over David Branch, Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson, all of which were technical knockouts inside of two rounds. He soon found himself in a prime position to make a case for a championship opportunity, but that was derailed once he fell to a former champion in Robert Whittaker. The latter bested Cannonier via unanimous decision at UFC 254.

Less than a year after the loss to Whittaker, Cannonier returned to the Octagon and defeated Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 34. Although he believed his performance was enough to warrant a shot at current champion Israel Adesanya, the MMA Lab product was not tapped as the next challenger. However, he could solidify himself as the true No. 1 contender, which Cannonier plans to do.

During his media day scrum on Wednesday, the 37-year-old said he expects to meet the winner of Adesanya vs. Whittaker II for the gold should he win against Brunson.

“I mean yeah,” said Cannonier (video provided by MMA Fighting). “Who else is there? There’s nobody else. There’s no other clear contender at this point in time. So No. 3 vs. No. 4 [in the UFC rankings]? Yeah, that’s the one.”

Cannonier also has no preference in who he would rather fight between the ‘Stylebender’ and the ‘Reaper’ because he believes both men are viable options for him in the near future.

“I don’t care either way,” said Cannonier. “I’m not hanging on to that Robert loss like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to get my hands on him.’ I’m not looking up like, ‘I can’t wait to fight Izzy’ or anything like that. A fight’s a fight. Whoever it is, I’m going to do the best I can to put you away. I know the fans would like to see either of those fights, both are exciting. And for me, both are a welcomed challenge. I look forward to if I fight one next, I’ll fight the other one some other time down the line because they’re both right there. They’re going to be there.”

Despite Cannonier vs. Brunson being widely considered a No. 1 contender, UFC president Dana White did not brand it as such. White acknowledged that it was indeed a key fight for the division but pointed at Adesanya focusing on other potential rematches right now.

Adesanya has previously said he has no qualms about fighting old opponents again, but expressed interest in new threats like Cannonier.

“Well you just said he’s looking at some rematches coming up, just like Usman is in his division,” said White at the pre-fight press conference. “We don’t know yet. I don’t know yet. Obviously it’s a very important fight in the weight class. We’ll see how it plays out.”

UFC 271 takes place on Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX.