Coming off an impressive win over Marvin Vettori in the main event of UFC On ESPN 47 this past weekend in Las Vegas, Jared Cannonier is now being touted as a potential opponent for Khamzat Chimaev, but the former title contender is only interested if it leads to another shot at the belt.
“I’m trying to get to the title,” Cannonier told reporters when asked about a potential fight with Khamzat. “I’m not just fighting to entertain you people. I know you guys want to see it. I know it would be a good fight. If that gets me the title shot, yes. I just beat No. 3. I’m not looking back, I’m looking forward. I’m looking at the champion. So if Dana [White] and Hunter [Campbell] and them say, ‘He’s between you and the champion,’ that’s something we can talk about. But if you’re saying, ‘Would you fight Khamzat and welcome him to the division?’ I’m like, does that get me to the title? That’s the question I’d have for you.”
Instead, Cannonier is hoping that his performance may convince the UFC that he’s the right opponent for middleweight champion Israel Adesanya’s next title defense.
“The way I see the immediate future going is Robert is going to fight Dricus, I know Israel wants to fight Dricus so bad, but I feel with my performance, as far as the guys who make that decision, I’m sure that puts my name well up there in that area,” Cannonier said.
One thing standing against Cannonier in that regard is that it’s only been a year since he last fought Adesanya for the belt, losing out by unanimous decision on that occasion.
Cannonier didn’t give the best account of himself in that fight, but Saturday night’s showing suggests that even at 39 he still has more to offer and so he’s now even suggesting that he’d be willing to serve as the back-up fighter for the next middleweight title bout, which is rumored to be taking place at UFC 293 in Sydney later this year.
“Yeah, man, we get paid for those moments,” Cannonier said. “I’m more than happy to step in for that opportunity, get paid even if I don’t fight. You still get paid a little bit, so I’m happy with that. And I wouldn’t mind a trip to Sydney. I’ve never been to Australia before, I’ve always wanted to go.”