At UFC 230 Jared Cannonier stepped in on short notice to face top 10 middleweight David Branch. It would be Cannonier’s toughest fight to date. Making it even harder was the fact that it was Cannonier’s middleweight debut and he was riding a two-fight losing streak.
To beat Branch by knockout in the second round and look as good as Cannonier did was impressive, to say the least. Although the win was impressive, it was an important win for Cannonier who did not want to go on a three-fight losing streak.
“Oh man, you know, every win is important, especially being on a two-fight losing streak. You know that can be hazardous to my career as the losing streak would have been extended,” said Cannonier to BJPENN.com. “With that being said, I believe I have an exciting style, and I think the UFC recognizes it. They wouldn’t have just cut me, maybe. I haven’t lost in dramatic fashion, all my losses have been exciting and I come forward and bring the fight. We can’t win them all and hopefully the UFC recognizes those things.”
Turns out, the UFC did recognize it.
After the fight, Dana White stopped Cannonier just outside the Octagon to talk with him about his performance.
“He was just saying how excited he was. He was saying if I had wrestling defense, which I proved, I could be a real mainstay in the division, a real problem for the division. That is all he was saying,” added Cannonier. “I showed him that I was working on my wrestling defense and it is getting better.”
Something Cannonier spent a lot of time this camp was on wrestling defense as that was a hole in his game. However, training at The Lab in Arizona, Cannonier proved he got better and can defend takedowns and keep the fight on the feet. Ultimately, training full-time has proved to be a huge difference and for Cannonier, he knew he would get better at wrestling eventually.
“It was only a matter of time. I am only getting better,” said Cannonier of his wrestling defense. “I am only getting more hours in on the mats. It was only a matter of time for an opportunity to present itself to display takedown defense.”
Cannonier escaped the fight without any real injuries. However, the middleweight is getting an MRI done on his knee to look at ongoing issues. Even with the knee injury, Cannonier was back training on Monday after the fight.
With Cannonier back training, he already has his eyes on when he would like to fight again, as for his opponent, that is up to the UFC matchmakers.
“February they are coming to Phoenix and I would like to be on that card,” he stated, “I don’t matchmake. I don’t get paid to matchmake so I’m not even going to entertain the idea of it. Unless I have someone I personally want to fight, but I want to fight them all. We’ll see what the matchmakers come up with.”
Whoever they give him, Cannonier knows he has to keep on improving and getting better every day. He is now ranked ninth in the middleweight division, and if he can string two more wins together he could be looking at a title shot.
For Cannonier, he has fought at both light heavyweight and heavyweight, but at middleweight, he feels natural. No more extra fat on his body. But a major question was, how would his power hold up at middleweight? Well, it seems MMA fans got that answer.
“Fat doesn’t translate to power,” he said.
With one fight, Cannonier put the entire middleweight division on notice that he is here to stay. The future at middleweight looks bright for Cannonier and he can’t wait to see what it has in store for him.
“If they aren’t watching then they are sleeping on me. The rankings came out and I’m number nine, which is really cool. We’ll see what happens in the future, I’m really excited,” Cannonier added. “Man, I’m really excited about the future. I just have to train and continue to get better and continue learning.”
Ultimately, Cannonier will need to continue to get better and show he is a title contender at middleweight. However, that will all happen in the future, but for now, Cannonier made his childhood dreams come true.
“I made my own dream come true, nothing better than that, especially doing it at a place like MSG.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 11/8/2018