Ahead of his UFC Vegas 34 headliner against former interim middleweight title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum, emerging top-contender, Jared Cannonier has claimed that former division champion, Robert Whittaker did not beat him in their UFC 254 co-headliner last October on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, UAE — instead claiming that the Octagon-side judges defeated him, in fact.
Cannonier, who returns following a 10-month layoff, suffered a unanimous decision loss to the former champion, Whittaker, after fracturing his forearm in the opening round, following the first kick attempt from the former kingpin.
Recovering from a pair of surgical procedures on his arm, the renowned striker enjoyed a fast track to potential title contention — scoring a trio of knockout victories in his first three outings in the middleweight division since his move back in November 2018.
Attempting to get back to the winner’s enclosure against the wily, Gastelum, Cannonier has no preferences to potential future title opponents, after reigning champion, Adesanya meets with common-foe, Whittaker in a title rematch, expected to take place early next year.
“Whoever’s got the belt,” Cannonier said to assembled ahead of UFC Vegas 34. “The fact that it’s Izzy (Israel Adesanya) right now, you know, that’s who I’m aiming at. If Robert (Whittaker) get the win — hey, if Robert get the title, then that’s who I’m aiming at.“
Despite acknowledging the fact he suffered a defeat against Whittaker last year in Abu Dhabi, Cannonier still insisted that the former titleholder didn’t actually beat him that night — rather the judges did.
“The fact that he (Whittaker) beat me back in October is not gonna factor into it or anything, I’m not like vengeful or anything like that, I’m not like salty that he won. So — he didn’t really beat me, you know. The judges did. He just broke my arm, landed some nice shots — survived. Dead serious, it’s the truth. Time ran out and judges declared him the winner.“
Prior to his defeat to Whittaker in October, MMA LAB trainee, Cannonier had embarked on an impressive three-fight knockout run, which included stoppages over former two-weight WSOF titleholder, David Branch, as well as a main event knockout over Jack Hermansson, sandwiched between a first round knockout over former middleweight champion, Anderson Silva.
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