Robert Whittaker is back in title contention with a great performance against rising contender Jared Cannonier in the co-main event of UFC 254.
Top middleweights fought for a title shot at UFC 254 as former champion Robert Whittaker took on Jared Cannonier. Whittaker emerged as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC after tearing his way to the title with a nine-fight win streak. He defended the title once against Yoel Romero, but was then dominated by Israel Adesanya to lose the belt. Whittaker got back in the win column in his last fight with a fun battle against Darren Till.
Cannonier has had a unique path to the middleweight title picture. He joined the UFC as a heavyweight and went 1-1, then dropped to light heavyweight. There, he went 2-3 and moved even further down the ladder to middleweight. Since then, he’s stopped all three of his opponents.
Cannonier started the fight with a heavy leg kick right out of the gate. A second leg kick caused a Whittaker slip and Cannonier tried to chase him down with a head kick but slipped as well. A slick jab landed for Whittaker and Cannonier answered with a pair of leg kicks. Cannonier charged in and was countered by a stinging right hand for Whittaker. Another right hand caught Cannonier, causing him to reset his position. Whittaker was committed to the jab as Cannonier peppered in leg kicks. Whittaker went to a two-punch to head kick combination that Cannonier was able to deflect and the round ended shortly after.
Whittaker continued to eat leg kicks from Cannonier in the second round. Whittaker landed a combination with a few uppercuts as Cannonier continued to chew up the former champ’s lead leg. As that was happening, Whittaker was finding more success with the jab. Whittaker changed things up by briefly bringing Cannonier to the ground, but he popped right back up and landed an overhand right off a leg kick. Whittaker answered with a strong one-two, then doubled up on the jab and landed a straight right.
Cannonier went to the leg kick right away, but got rocked after Whittaker connected with a one-two combination followed by a beautiful head kick. Cannonier stumbled to the cage and Whittaker knocked him down with punches. Cannonier wrapped him up and Whittaker got to work on the ground. He moved to full mount then took the back of Cannonier, but somehow the former heavyweight was able to get to his feet. Cannonier whipped a body kick around then staggered him with a right straight. Cannonier chased him down, but Whittaker desperately forced a clinch to slow down the pursuit of Cannonier. That worked out and Whittaker rode out the fight along the fence.
Robert Whittaker def. Jared Cannonier by Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)