Israel Adesanya hinted last week that Sean Strickland may be poised to take Dricus du Plessis place as the next middleweight title contender, but now Jared Cannonier has stated that he should get the opportunity instead.
“It would be good for Sean Strickland. I know he’s wanted it for a little while and I know Izzy has wanted to fight him,” Cannonier told The Schmo. “It would be good entertainment… But, you know, the way the rankings stack up, the way that my last fights have gone, the way that his last fights have gone, it just doesn’t make sense. I feel that I’m definitely ahead of Sean Strickland in the line.
“There are sentiments that the champ picks who he wants and stuff, especially considering the situation that he’s beaten most of us at the top of the division. I feel that he scraped away with that victory against me. I didn’t do much of anything to get things done and I nullified a lot of his attempts. He didn’t beat me handily.”
Cannonier does have a fair claim to the title shot over Strickland as he did beat him by split decision back in December of last year and has since gone on to defeat Marvin Vettori by unanimous decision too.
However, as he alludes to, he already fought Adesanya in the summer of last year and didn’t perform at his best, so while he may feel that he’d have more to offer in a rematch, it might be tough to convince ‘The Last Stylebender’ and the UFC brass that they should book him rather than a fresh challenger.
Meanwhile, Strickland has since responded to Cannonier’s comments, and needless to say he doesn’t agree with him.
“Makes me laugh to hear Cannonier opinion on me and Izzy,” Strickland wrote on Twitter. “I like him but man I won that fight, you know I won that fight, the announcers know I won the fight.
“I won the fight in first gear lol but yes you threw really hard, I don’t know what they felt like but they looked hard.”
Strickland has strung together two wins in a row since that loss to Cannonier, beating Nassourdine Imavov by unanimous decision and then Abusupiyan Nurmagomedov by TKO earlier this month, leaving him ranked No.6 in the division, two spots behind Cannonier.
And as things stand it does seem as if he is the frontrunner for the title shot as in an interview late last week, Strickland confirmed that he is ‘in talks’ with the UFC about it.
“It is very natural just to fight, which I just fought like a week before you, and them to be like, ‘Hey, do you want to fly across the world to fight a guy on seven weeks’ notice?’ It is very natural to say, ‘I might not want to do that.’” Strickland told Helen Yee.
“But I’m a f—king man, I’m not a f—king p—sy. If you pay me, I have a price. You pay me money, I’ll f—king fight him right here.
“So, unlike Dricus, who’s probably a smarter man, the true African he is, I am not,” he concluded. “You f—king pay me, we’ll fight right here.”
Neveretheless, Cannonier still believes he would give Adesanya a better fight and suggests that Strickland would really stand a chance against the champ.
“Sean doesn’t even believe he could win that fight. He just wants to go in there and fight and get some money. I believe I can win that fight. I think that’s the big difference between me and those other guys,” Cannonier said.
“Izzy is not an easy fight. The way those styles match up, I don’t think Sean will be able to work his jab and his funky-ass footwork, and his ability to evade shots. Izzy is way too long. He’s a sniper. Izzy is too diverse and versatile with his striking, and I don’t think Sean’s grappling is good enough to make it a factor to make it as competitive.”