The UFC has finalized a big time middleweight matchup with title implications for January. MMA Junkie’s John Morgan was the first to report this evening that the UFC has finalized a matchup between top middleweight contenders Derek Brunson (23-7) and Jared Cannonier (14-5).
The fight will take place on January 22nd. Currently, the plan is for the UFC to host a PPV that day. Tentatively, the plan is for Israel Adesanya – Robert Whittaker 2 to headline the card which would make this middleweight clash even more compelling.
The last time that Brunson tasted defeat was against the current UFC champion, Israel Adesanya. The two fought back in 2018 and Adesanya walked through Brunson on his way to a first round finish.
However, since that fight, Brunson has been sensational. He’s gone a perfect 5-0 and turned away UFC hype machines Darren Till, Kevin Holland, Edmen Shahbazyan, and Ian Heinisch. Now, he’s finally getting a top guy in the division.
UFC title shot on the line?
Standing across from Brunson in January will be the Killa Gorilla. Jared Cannonier was one win away last October from earning a UFC title shot. Cannonier had a shot against Robert Whittaker and had he won, he was going to be next for Israel Adesanya.
However, Whittaker was able to pick up the win. Cannonier spent most of 2021 on the shelf recovering from injuries but returned last month. In a headliner, Cannonier took on Kelvin Gastelum.
Cannonier was able to hurt Gastelum multiple times and picked up a unanimous decision victory. That win has him right back in the title picture. Given the winning streak that Brunson’s on and where Cannonier sits, it’s easy to see why the UFC booked this fight.
It’s clear that the winner is going to get a crack at the winner of the main event. The UFC is putting together quite the compelling card featuring top middleweights and it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the card shakes out.