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The middleweight division has new life after Sean Strickland’s UFC 293 title victory.

Israel Adesanya was seemingly starting to lap his competition as the 185-pound title holder, having fought three opponents on multiple occasions in the promotion. Strickland’s arrival as the new sheriff in town has now opened up a world of possibilities and attached a big fat target to his back.

Jared Cannonier, 39, was the last man to defeat the current champion, earning a closely-contested split decision nod over “Tarzan” this past December. The “Killa Gorilla” followed up the victory with a record-setting performance against Marvin Vettori in June. Cannonier battered the Italian throughout five rounds en route to a unanimous decision that saw him land a whopping 241 significant strikes, the most in middleweight history. As a result, Cannonier was deemed the backup fighter for Adesanya vs. Strickland in Sydney, Australia this past weekend and now wants to get the opportunity he feels is rightfully his.

“If you’re a true hand-to-hand combat fan like me and not in it for the (clown) ass actors and their theatrics, then you know this is the fight to make,” Cannonier said on Instagram. “I beat the champ and got two checks to prove it. He wasn’t walking me down screaming in my face either. Nobody does that to me. The only other MW to beat him has ascended. He fought him differently than he fought me as well. On top of that he said it himself that he ‘fought like a b****’ so here’s your chance to redeem your man card @strickland_mma_ let’s actually do the man dance brother. P.S I was high as hell on that poster.”

It’s still too early to know the direction the UFC will head with its new outspoken and fearless fighting champion at middleweight. What we do know is that options are far from limited. An instant rematch with Adesanya has been discussed by UFC President Dana White, top contender Dricus Du Plessis has called for his shot, Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev compete in a pivotal matchup next month, and Cannonier rides a two-fight win streak that started with a Strickland triumph.

Cannonier is 7-2 at 185 pounds, suffering defeat only to the former champions Adesanya and Robert Whittaker both via unanimous decisions. The Adesanya bout was Cannonier’s only bid for UFC gold thus far in his 23-fight career (17-6)


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Between the Links.

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Cannonier has certainly been put in a weird spot after Strickland’s divisional leapfrogging to the 185-pound mountaintop. Du Plessis is still the rightful next guy in line, it’s just a matter of sorting things out between Cannonier, Adesanya, and Costa/Chimaev.

Happy Friday, everyone. Enjoy the weekend and thanks for reading!


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Author: Staff

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