New UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya heaped praise upon surging contender Jared Cannonier, saying he has been impressed by Cannonier’s quick rise up the middleweight rankings.
“The Last Stylebender” was asked by reporters at the UFC 243 post-fight press conference what other middleweight contenders impress him, and Adesanya immediately singled out Cannonier as someone who expects to defend his belt against in the near future.
“Jared Cannonier. I like that guy. He’s a cool dude. I like his style. I like the fact he came down from heavyweight to light heavyweight to middleweight. I’m impressed by what he’s doing,” Adesanya said.
The champ said he believes Cannonier needs a few more wins before he’s in the title conversation, but that he’s very close to fighting him for the belt soon.
“He still has another fight probably — it depends who he beats next, it depends who he fights next — one or two more fights, then I wanna see him. I like challenges like that.”
Cannonier opened up his UFC career as a heavyweight in 2015 and fought just two times in that weight class before dropping down to the light heavyweight division. After an up-and-down run at 205lbs where he went just 2-3 in five fights, Cannonier made the surprising decision to cut down to 185lbs at age 34, and so far it’s a move that’s looked incredible.
Since dropping down to middleweight last year, Cannonier is 3-0 with TKO wins over Jack Hermansson, Anderson Silva and David Branch. Like Adesanya said, Cannonier likely needs at least one if not two more wins before he gets a title shot. But there’s no doubt he’s closing in on a crack at the belt, and when he gets it Adesanya will be waiting for him.
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This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/7/2019.