Khamzat Chimaev wants a fight with Alex Pereira, but Jared Cannonier says he should go through a contender to get it.
After Pereira defeated Israel Adesanya by fifth-round TKO at UFC 281 this past November, Chimaev was one of the first fighters to challenge the newly crowned UFC middleweight champion. ‘Borz’ and his team have said a fight with ‘Po Atan’ would be ‘amazing,’ but that could see him leapfrog the rest of the division. And with contenders, including the ‘Killa Gorilla,’ in the queue for Pereira, Chimaev should be at the end of the line.
“I feel like you should definitely fight your way to the top,” said Cannonier in a recent interview with Helen Yee. “I also understand the business side of things to a certain extent, and it wouldn’t look good. It wouldn’t feel good, that’s for damn sure. But I can’t sit here and say this is what he should do to get to the title. Alex Pereira had what? Two? Three fights? And then he won his title. I’m not here to say who should do what to get a title [shot]. The UFC has its structure that it goes by and we’ve seen how it plays out in many different situations.”
For Chimaev to get Pereira next, Cannonier says he should go through a litmus test similar to the one he received at welterweight, where he fought a one-time title challenger in Gilbert Burns.
Like Burns, Cannonier is also a one-time title challenger, so he would fit the bill for the type of fight he wants Chimaev to have — and it is one he accepts.
“Personally, if he wants to get up there, he needs to go through at least somebody in the top 10,” said Cannonier. “Being one of the ones at the top, he would have to face me, or Robert [Whittaker] or Israel [Adesanya]. If you’re going to give him somebody, give him somebody in the top 3. If you want to just throw him up, give him somebody in the top 3 like they did at welterweight.
“I don’t care what they do with him,” continued Cannonier. “I’m not really focused on him, I’m focused on myself. So I’m sitting right where I am, and whoever comes at me, I’m going to give it to them the same way I’d give it to anybody. And that’s just it. I’m just here to fight. That’d be a fun fight.”
In his most recent appearance, Cannonier returned to the win column with a split decision over Sean Strickland at UFC Vegas 66 in December.