‘It’s Either Title or Contender’ for Jared Cannonier After UFC on ESPN 29 Win

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Before he lost to Robert
Whittaker at UFC 254 last October, Jared
Cannonier appeared to be Israel
Adesanya’s choice for No. 1 contender at middleweight.

That setback knocked “The Killa Gorilla” down the contender’s
queue, but Cannonier rebounded to post a five-round verdict over
Kelvin
Gastelum in the
UFC on ESPN 29 headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on
Saturday night.

“Any win is good,” Cannonier said at the post-fight press
conference. “I feel good after that win. Took a little bit of
damage but I’m not broken so I can go home and hug my kids and be
able to play with them come Monday and stuff like that. So I’m
happy.”

In his post-fight interview in the Octagon, Cannonier said that he
was “broke,” so it was important for him to earn a victory in his
first bout since that aforementioned loss to Whittaker. It was a
competitive fight throughout, but Cannonier scored the only
knockdown of the fight and appeared to get stronger as the matchup
progressed.

“I could say there’s always that tension when there’s a decision
but I knew I won that decision,” Cannonier said. “I knew I had at
least the last three rounds. After I knocked him down, I felt I
took the momentum and I maintained it for the most part. Not
necessarily any concern.”

At the moment, it appears that Whittaker is slated for a rematch
with Adesanya with the middleweight belt on the line. However,
COVID restrictions could delay that bout until next year, which
means Cannonier might need to take another fight in the
meantime.

“It’s either title or contender,” Cannonier said. “It was supposed
to be [Paulo] Costa but that didn’t happen. I really needed to
fight. I don’t think Izzy and Robert are going to fight until next
year.

“So that’s what four, five, six months even? And then another
three, four months after that? I can’t wait that long. So who
knows, I might end up taking a fight.”

If he does indeed accept another fight while waiting on the
Adesanya-Whittaker rematch, Cannonier needs the stakes to be
appropriately high.

If they give me a name, ‘If you win, you get the shot,’ OK. Easy,”
Cannonier said. “… I will say the end of the year, beginning of…
2022. Yeah, three, four months from now, I’d like to get back in
there.”