With champion Israel Adesanya expected to rematch Robert Whittaker next, top contenders Cannonier (14-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC) and Brunson (23-7 MMA, 14-5 UFC) are vying for title contention.
Winner of four his past five, Cannonier is coming off a unanimous decision win over former interim title challenger Kelvin Gastelum in August. Meanwhile, Brunson came up big as an underdog once again when he submitted Darren Till this past Saturday for his fifth consecutive win.
But Cannonier thinks his recent strength of schedule has been a lot more impressive than Brunson’s and if Brunson wants a shot at Adesanya, he needs to go through him first.
“I understand his stance,” Cannonier told Submission Radio. “He’s been doing this for a long time, he hasn’t had his title shot, he was close to his title shot, and then he ran into Izzy, and now he’s on his way. I don’t think he’s in a position to wait for a title shot, to be honest. He’s No. 5, he beat No. 7. I don’t think that does much. I think that just solidifies your position right there at contendership. I don’t think it makes you the No. 1 contender.
“So, if he wants to be certified officially the No. 1 contender, he’d fight me. And then he can sit around and wait and be guaranteed the title shot. But as far as if I wait and he waits, I’m getting the title shot first. If you look at the rankings, that’s just how it is. I mean, to be honest, I’m waiting for them to call me. And if he says no, he won’t be the first one to say no to a fight with me. A bunch of these guys say no to me. A lot of these guys in the top of the division have said no to me. So, I’m not surprised.”
Derek Brunson wants title shot after UFC Fight Night 191, but Jared Cannonier not ‘off the table’
Cannonier had previously mentioned that his only two options after beating Gastelum were a title shot or a No. 1 contender bout. “The Killa Gorilla” sees the winner of the Oct. 23 headliner between former title challengers Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori as the more logical next step, but he’s open to facing Brunson if the matchup was a title eliminator.
“Well, of course the winner of Costa and Vettori is a more clear-cut contender,” Cannonier said. “That’s one versus two. But if they called and said Derek Brunson (in a) contenders match, this is for the next tile shot, we’re not thinking about Vettori and things, they’re going to be after you, then yeah, I’m accepting that fight.”
Twitter reacts to Jared Cannonier’s main event win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on ESPN 29