Cannonier, who was the number two-ranked contender in the middleweight division heading into UFC 254, was expected to be the next in line for the title, had he gotten past Whittaker, the former titleholder and number one-ranked contender.
“The Reaper” had other plans however, as he outpointed Cannonier en route to a unanimous decision win.
As it turns out, the first kick that Whittaker threw ended up fracturing Cannonier’s forearm and taking him off his game.
“That didn’t go exactly how I wanted but my spirits remain high and I’m happy with how I fought all things considered,” Cannonier said on an Instagram post after the fight. “The very first kick he threw broke or fractured my left ulna. I couldn’t find my grove and adjust quickly to get the W so I’ll take my L with pride.”
Responding to a fan on Twitter, Adesanya - who publicly stated that Cannonier should be the number one contender if he can beat Whittaker - said that maybe it wasn’t meant to be.
“Guess it’s not meant to be that we faced each other. All love to him,” Adesanya said.
Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker rematch likely?
Israel Adesanya is coming off a second-round TKO win over Paulo Costa back in September, his second successful defense of the 185-pound title - the very same title that he snatched from former titleholder Robert Whittaker back in 2019.
Since their title bout last year, both men have won their last two bouts and it’s looking increasingly likely that the two are on a collision course yet again.
Adesanya has taken care of business against Yoel Romero and the aforementioned Costa, while Whittaker has bounced back impressively with decision wins over Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.
According to UFC President Dana White at the UFC 254 post-fight press conference, the rematch is the fight to make.
“It’s very appealing to me. It’s the fight that makes sense right now,” White said. “Adesanya has a lot of options, but the fight that makes the most sense right now is Whittaker. I thought Cannonier was going to be a much tougher challenge for [Whittaker]. He looked good tonight, so the Adesanya fight makes sense.”Published 28 Oct 2020, 18:51 IST