Middleweight contender Jared Cannonier knows exactly what to expect in his UFC Vegas 66 main event showdown with Sean Strickland this weekend.
The pair face off atop the final UFC card of 2022, with both looking to return to the win column. Cannonier was served up a decision loss by then-champ Israel Adesanya at UFC 276, while Strickland was knocked out by Alex Pereira that same night.
“I’m expecting him to— I know he wants to get in my face. He says he wants to go out to the center of the octagon, stand there and duke it out. I expect him to [be the] same old Sean Strickland,” Cannonier explained during Wednesday’s UFC Vegas 66 media day. “Put the pressure on, try to walk me down, stick his jab in my face, couple of kicks, maybe get his right hand off. That’s what I expect him to try to do.”
“We’ve got answers for those attempts, and if he doesn’t want to do any of that, I’ll be more than happy to lead the dance.”
Of course, knowing he has an opponent that likes to walk forward, and knowing the success Pereira had against Strickland, gives Cannonier an idea of what could be.
“That’s the name of the game. When we close the distance, there’s opportunity to get hit. He closes the distance, what’s the word, he does it more often than most,” observed Cannonier. “Sometimes he may even seen stubborn in his forward pressure. But he’s a smart fighter, it’s not just all forward. He’ll move, he avoids punches and stuff like that. I’m expecting a good challenge out of him.”
Strickland is something of a character, one who has been known to talk trash during fights.
“If he’s doing it, then I’m not doing my job well enough,” replied Cannonier to the idea that Strickland might try to throw him off his game, noting that he should be putting enough pressure on his opponent to keep him focused on the fight rather than “talking some crap. And if he is talking some crap, good on him.”
A win over Strickland, meanwhile, puts Jared Cannonier in a good spot moving forward, given Alex Pereira upset the status quo by dethroning Adesanya at UFC 281 last month.
“Me, Robert Whittaker is up there, and I’m sure the rematch between Israel and Alex is up there as well. I’m right there,” Cannonier suggested. “So a good old fashioned ass-whupping Saturday night will put my name right there in the mix.”
If Adesanya and Pereira do run it back, it may not necessarily have a different outcome, said Cannonier — though he doesn’t necessarily mean Adesanya can’t beat the Brazilian.
“We seen how it went the first time. It could be written in the stars that Izzy may never beat him. It could be written in the stars. Because I thought he was winning that fight, and I think the same thing happened in their fight in kickboxing. He was scoring, winning, and he got caught. Nature of the beast, I guess.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 66 media day appearance by Jared Cannonier above.