Adesanya cruises past Cannonier to keep UFC middleweight belt
Israel Adesanya is still king of the middleweights.
Adesanya defeated Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45) in the UFC 276 main event to retain his title.
The meeting between Adesanya and Cannonier on Saturday night in Las Vegas was largely a tactical, ho-hum affair. Adesanya picked Cannonier apart with strikes from the outside and controlled the distance.
Cannonier attempted to get Adesanya to the ground on a few occasions, spending some time holding him against the fence. However, the champion's takedown defense held up well.
After the fight, Adesanya sent a message to former kickboxing opponent Alex Pereira, who defeated Sean Strickland in a potential title eliminator earlier on the UFC 276 main card.
"We know who's next," Adesanya said in his postfight interview, adding: "Like I said at the press conference, next time I put you on skates, you're going to get frozen like Elsa."
Pereira, who improved to 3-0 in the UFC by knocking out the No. 4-ranked Strickland, defeated Adesanya twice - once by knockout - under the GLORY Kickboxing banner.
With the win over Cannonier, Adesanya has now successfully defended his 185-pound belt five times since taking it from Robert Whittaker in 2019. This was his third straight victory by decision.
Cannonier earned his first shot at UFC gold by knocking out Derek Brunson in February. The loss to Adesanya ended his two-fight winning streak, which also included a main-event win over Kelvin Gastelum. Cannonier's last defeat came against Whittaker in 2020.
"The Killa Gorilla" competed at heavyweight and light heavyweight earlier in his Octagon career before dropping down to middleweight in 2018. He's now 5-2 in the division.