Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier are going to decide who will become Israel Adesanya’s next challenger. Now, even though this isn’t an official title-eliminator, many see it like one. Whittaker is anxious to get his chance to avenge the defeat against Adesanya once he lost the belt. Meanwhile, Cannonier is the Last Stylebender‘s wish. He stated that immediately following the match against Paulo Costa, putting additional pressure on the American. This bout was supposed to occur at the UFC 248, but Whittaker pulled out because of his personal reasons.
Whittaker (-105) comes in as a minimal underdog, as some might say. Many suggest that such a situation comes purely because he seems a bit less powerful than Cannonier, who is a hard-hitter.
Still, there are plenty of those who remind that Whittaker holds two wins over one other mighty beast, Yoel Romero. The last one was via split decision, which was a controversial call. Many disagreed with the outcome, and started disputing Whitaker’s title.
As a confirmation of those doubts, came his KO defeat against Adesanya, once the current champion destroyed his rival, propelling himself to the stars. Whittaker already then had some issues with injuries, having just three matches in 25 months.
He returned against Darren Till on 26th July this year, with a unanimous decision, enduring all five rounds and a pretty rough start once Till knocked down Whittaker with an elbow. Until the Englishman hurt his knee, Whittaker wasn’t performing very well, to be honest.
Cannonier (-115) is going up, and right now, he has three straight wins, following two nasty losses against Jan Blachowicz and Dominick Reyes. But these two matches were in the light heavyweight division, and since coming down to the middleweight, Cannoniere didn’t feel the taste of defeat.
All three victories came after TKOs, not going beyond the middle of the second round. David Branch was the first victim, Anderson Silva, after that, and Jack Hermansson the latest, although that bout took place in September 2019.
As we already mentioned, Cannonier is a ferocious puncher, who was once a heavyweight, but gradually moved down to the middleweight. Therefore, he has a significant power advantage over all other rivals in this division. We could say that he is a bit raw, but the improvement had been evident over the last few years, and we might guess that he used this big pause to perfect some of his skills additionally.
In our opinion, Cannonier will beat the former champ, and earn a chance to challenge Adesanya. Now to break down why.
Whittaker was unconvincing against Till, and as mentioned previously, until his rival didn’t hurt his leg, the fighter from Australia didn’t have the edge over him. It seems that even though his technique and skills are still at the solid level, Whittaker’s body is not a sharp as before, and against Cannonier, who is way more physical, that will present a problem.
The odds on the American’s win are at -115, which is excellent, so don’t hesitate to place your money on that pick.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.