Since coming up short in a title fight against Israel Adesanya in July of 2022, Jared Cannonier has bounced back with big wins over Sean Strickland and Marvin Vettori.
Yet it’s Strickland fighting Adesanya for middleweight gold in the main event of UFC 293 this Saturday, with Cannonier serving as back-up, the result of the promotion’s need for fresh faces to market alongside “The Last Stylebender.”
The success he’s had since that title fight is something Cannonier (17-6) broke down for Cageside Press recently.
“It’s just reassurance of the work that I’ve been doing. Ever since the Adesanya fight there’s been a few things that I wanted to change in my own approach and those fights that I have in the octagon,” explained Cannonier. “More output was one of them. And we can’t just go in there and be swinging for the fences, especially at this level. Some guy’s going to counter, some guy’s going to catch you, something bad can happen going in there with that sort of mindset.”
“Being intelligent with my approach, being more technical, being more technical and skilled at the same time. Upping my output, increasing my output, doing more. Staying busy throughout that whole 25-minute fight. Not taking any time off, because I may be tired or fatigued. Making sure that doesn’t happen, because of the work we do here at the lab. My conditioning is top-notch, it’s only getting better.”
In terms of his overall development, “the growth for me has been exponential in the past year,” Cannonier added. And despite a lot of talk online about Cannonier being “snubbed” of a title shot in favor of Strickland, “The Killer Gorilla” is not upset. Certainly not disappointed.
“No, I won’t say I’m disappointed. I think we all deserve a shot. I’m not going to be like ‘I want his shot.’ That’s his shot. I got mine after I beat [Derek] Brunson. So no, no hate towards him. It’s not like he took my shot, it’s not like they gave it to me and then gave it to him, it was his shot from the start.”
“That’s his lane, he’s staying in his lane. He’s doing what he gotta do to get the fights that he wants. Good for him. I’m glad everybody gets at least a shot. Whether the world sees him as deserving or not, as fighters, I think we all deserve a nice little paycheck.”
With just shy of three months having passed since his Fight of the Night decision win over Marvin Vettori, what’s next is now the question when it comes to Jared Cannonier. The #3-ranked middleweight doesn’t necessarily have the answer.
“I have no idea. Hopefully a contenders match, is what I want. Hopefully the championship match; if I can’t get that, I want a contenders match.” But Cannonier isn’t closing the door on fighting someone down the ladder a little, given he’ll get paid the same money either way— and he gets paid pretty well. “I don’t mind fighting somebody lower in the rankings for the same amount I would get for fighting a contender.”
That’s a big of a shift from his thoughts a few months ago, but “I love to fight,” Cannonier added. “I’m happy my name is in the title picture, but I’m not going to be fixated on getting the next title shot. I don’t want to be too fixated on it. I want to be more fixated on developing myself as a fighter, so that when the shot does come, because it’s going to come, I’m going to be more than ready to take the title next time.”
Training in Arizona, Cannonier believes that The MMA Lab has put together the best training program he’s ever been a part of. “When I first got a taste of this program, I knew for sure that this program could make me a champion. That was what, 2014, 2015? And I ain’t looked back since. I still believe that it’s true. I’m still growing, even being at this stage of my career.”
The MMA Lab continues to help Cannonier develop and evolve as a fighter even in his upper 30s, which is why Jared feels the way he does about his home gym. Cannonier seems to be the likely next title challenger, considering the fact that the UFC decided to make him the backup for UFC 293. It is yet to be seen if the “Killa Gorilla” will be needed for the UFC 293 main event, but he will be ready, coming in at 184.8 on the scale.
Watch our full interview with UFC 293 back-up fighter and #3-ranked middleweight Jared Cannonier above.